Monday, March 29, 2010

Another Day, Another Dollar

March 29, 2010

Outside my window...a sunny but cool day. About 10 C.
I am thinking...the College and Careers group are a good bunch of young adults. They contributed quite a bit to the discussions last night. One man prepared a devotion, and another led the music. We plan to go to Missionfest Toronto in April for our next meeting. One of the girls is in College studying Fashion Design. She brought her sketch book and some of the clothes she has designed and made. She's very talented. There were seven young adults plus my husband and I.
I am thankful youngest daughter's acceptance into all the universities she's applied to. Today she heard from University of Toronto, which was her first choice. She was so excited. I never had any doubt she'd get in.
From the kitchen...leftover ham, hassleback potatoes and green beans.
I am wearing...jeans, a red tank top and a grey cardigan.
I am reading...Captives of Minara by Eric E. Wright.
I am hoping...for a good resolution to my eldest daughter's rental situation. She has a room in the basement of a house. The last time it rained, the foundation leaked into her closet. When a contractor looked at it, he said they'd need to dig down and fix it. The landlord then prepared a lease saying they wouldn't be responsible for any repairs related to water damage or leaks. I don't know how they think they can do that just because they're students. I don't want her to have to worry about her health. They have two days to decide whether they'll take a chance that it won't be a problem or try to find other accommodations for the fall. Times like this I wish I had easy access to a lawyer to find out if they can do such a thing.
I am hearing...the GO train on my way to work.
Around the house...we had someone in to pull up the 20 evergreen trees that the previous owners had planted in our little yard. They were too close to each other, to the fence, the deck and the house. They will grow to be monsters. Better to remove them now while they're still small. We also had a contractor in on the weekend. He gave us some good suggestions about a floor plan for the basement. We still have to have a few others in before we can get started. I also chose a paint colour for the halls, stairwell and entrance way. The walls got damaged when the previous owners moved out. We'll have the painters in to start either this week or next. The mens' breakfast went well. I would have let them fend for themselves, but that would have meant relinquishing control of my kitchen and I'm too much of a micro-manager to do that. They seemed to appreciate having the food ready for them. They say women talk a lot but from where I was upstairs, it sounded like a hen house. We had a second party for my Mom's 70th birthday. It's a typical Finnish custom that on your 50th birthday they take a picture of you in front of a table full of flowers. I think we missed doing that then since she was living up north. My kids said they were going to do that when I turned 50. Not sure I like that idea since it just reminds me of seeing pictures of my grandparents. Not ready to be "old" yet. I still have four years to go.
One of my favourite things...the hot tub; our new toy.
Some plans for the four nights, then a four night weekend. I'll miss our Good Friday service since I'm working Thursday night. No big plans for the weekend other than a Sunrise breakfast at church on Sunday morning. Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! I'm kind of glad not to be too busy since we've had something going on every weekend recently and more of the same planned for April.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Am I In Your Book?

I saw an interesting show on t.v. the other day called Writers' Confessions. Nothing steamy, in spite of the name, just a bunch of authors talking about the writing life. They brought up an interesting topic: when authors are portrayed on t.v., what is their book about? Usually just an autobiography in thin disguise. See the t.v. show, Castle, and NCIS as examples.

While it's true that writers often 'write what they know' in regards to places and cultures, and to a certain extent, they can't help that sometimes their voice and opinions and favourite sayings come through in their work, everything that happens in their book is not something that really happened to them. It is fiction, after all.

I try to stay away from describing any of my characters so that they sound like someone I know. While some may want to be included in a book, they may not like my impression of them. I'd rather keep my friends.

I know that if a book is researched well, people will say, "You must have worked in a lumber camp, because you describe it perfectly." I've told writers when I thought they "got it" perfectly. They take it as a great compliment, because that's their goal. They want you to get so into the story, that you believe these are real people and you care about them.

I think I 'show up' in some of my characters. But I also like to explore what a person who is completely different from me would think or say. That's the beauty of fiction, and the fun a writer has in creating a character and then stepping back and seeing what they have to say. Some characters take me by surprise.

What about you? How much of yourself and those you know shows up in your writing?

Monday, March 22, 2010

Full Life

March 22, 2010

Outside my window...a cool and rainy day.
I am daughters are complete opposites. I call them country mouse and city mouse. My eldest likes antiques, quilts, distressed wood furniture, muted colours, country music and the outdoors. My youngest likes black furniture, bold colours, shiny things, rock music and city life. Did they really come from the same parents?
I am thankful for...a friend of mine who will be typing my stories into the computer. I'm old school and do all of my writing on paper. I have seven "babies" at various stages of gestation. I need to get them into a format that will allow me to send them electronically, should that day arrive. I gotta get into the new millennium. My friend lives a few blocks away and is reliable. She also is not working since she had a stroke a few months ago. She has recovered completely, thank God!
From the kitchen...steak sandwiches and salad. My husband bbq'd in the rain.
I am wearing...jeans, a red tank top, a white CANADA hoodie and a fall coat.
I am reading...Beguiled by Deeann Gist and J. Mark Bertrand. I was at the end of reading Plague Maker by Tim Downs, got to page 360, then the next page was 329-360 and the back cover. Publishing FAIL! It was my favourite book of the year so far. So exciting. So I wrote to the publisher, Thomas Nelson and they said they'd mail me a new one. I appreciate that.
I am youngest daughter had a good day in court. It was her last day of Spring Break. She went with her grandmother to see a woman (her friend's daughter) who passed the bar a few years ago. She is a criminal defense attorney. My youngest wants to be a lawyer and she loves all aspects of the justice system. She wants to work for International Justice Mission.
I am know...the train. I always do my journalling on Monday on my way to work.
Around the house...we used the hot tub four nights in a row. My eldest was home for the weekend and had a friend over. My youngest went to youth group and then had two friends over. Saturday we cleaned the church and then took my Mom out to the Keg to celebrate her 70th birthday. Sunday we had chicken pot pie at home. No guests. A short nap and great preaching. I missed the morning service because I was in the nursery. Not my favourite ministry. The pastor preached 15 minutes longer than usual. The kids seem to sense when they've been there too long. The last ten minutes those eight kids were out of control. The longest 95 minutes of my week. They're starting to paint the sanctuary of our church today, so next weeks' service will be downstairs. Could be standing room only. We're buying things for the house little by little, but we seem to have something going on every weekend and time flies. We bought a new bbq and some accessories for the girls' rooms. We have some men coming on Saturday to see about basement renovations. Ideally, I'd like it renovated by the fall.
One of my favourite things...a schedule like I have this week: two nights on, five nights off. That's the way a work week should be. If all goes according to plan, in nine years I can semi-retire and have a schedule like that for five years before I retire completely. I don't want to rush my retirement, though. There's time for a lot of living between now and then.
Some plans for the week...schedule as above. Shop for a desk for my daughter's room. Drop off my stories to my friend. We're hosting a men's breakfast (from church) at our house on Saturday morning. Clean and cook for Sunday. My Mom wants to have some of her friends over for Sunday dinner to celebrate her birthday some more. That's fine with me. I want her to feel like it's her home, too, even if we haven't built her basement apartment yet. Sunday evening we're having the second College and Careers meeting. We're getting them to take more control of it: devotions, games, food. They're a good group.

Monday, March 15, 2010


March 15, 2010.

Outside my window...a grey Monday. It rained all weekend.
I am, it's the ides of March. I've never been superstitious. Part of the reason is my culture; Finns just aren't superstitious, unlike Asians. I worked with a Chinese woman who told of a baby born, who wouldn't open its eyes. The parents went through the whole house, until they found a picture that wasn't nailed in properly. They nailed it in and the baby opened its eyes. I said, "Oh, Come On!" It was the most ridiculous thing I'd ever heard.
But I think the main reason I'm not superstitious is because of my faith. I'm a Christian. I know God is in control. So all those times I spilled salt, walked under a ladder, or had a black cat cross my path, I didn't worry. I serve a sovereign God.
I am thankful Mom. She turns 70 this month. We're taking her out for dinner on Saturday. She's relatively healthy and independent, and still his her wits about her. She's a great help to us around the house, doing the laundry, helping with cooking and cleaning, and driving my daughter to school. She's not a meddler so she's easy to live with. Soon she'll have a place in the basement so it'll be even better. The biggest concern I have is for her soul. She's still unsaved. She comes with us to church regularly, and I bought her the Bible in modern Finnish, and she's reading it. She recently said she didn't understand why Christ was crucified. I mentioned it to the Pastor and now he's going through a four part series on different aspects of the cross: propitiation (relating to the altar), justification (relating to a court of law), redemption (relating to the marketplace), and reconciliation (relating to interpersonal relationships). Yesterday, he preached on propitiation. You can hear it at I thought it was quite clear. God is angry and we need a shelter from his wrath and something to satisfy His righteous anger. Jesus' sacrifice on the cross does that. When she got up from the pew, she said, "I didn't understand a thing." I was so let down. Lord, open her eyes.
From the kitchen...pasta with chicken and sausage casserole, fresh baked bread.
I am wearing...jeans, a green sweater, and a beige windbreaker. My neon green windbreaker is SO two years ago.
I am reading...Plague Maker by Tim Downs. He's going to be the main speaker at a writer's conference I'd like to attend this fall, and I wanted to read something he's written, in case I get to meet him.
I am hoping...for good nights at work.
I am hearing...the train. I love it.
Around the house...we've been using the hot tub a lot. Three times this weekend, plus my husband even had his morning coffee in there on Saturday. When we put it just 3 degrees cooler, we find we can stay in longer without feeling faint or nauseous. My youngest daughter had a friend visiting for the weekend. They were on the go the whole time. We had a great time at our tri-annual dinner party with two other couples from our church. The theme was Italian this time.We had a great date on Friday night. The time change is nice because it's not dark when I come to work in the evening, but I felt wiped out all weekend. It's especially hard on my husband who has insomnia. He has to wake up at 5 a.m. for work so this is like 4 a.m. Plus he has stresses from many projects. One good benefit of the hot tub is that it helps him to fall asleep and stay asleep, even if he can't sleep long.
One of my favourite things...attending live soccer games. We're trying to secure tickets to at least one TFC game this summer.
Some plans for the three nights. Have friends over for dinner and a hot tub on Thursday, shop for a prom dress for my youngest daughter on Friday, clean the church on Saturday, take my Mom out for dinner on Saturday evening, church on Sunday (maybe have guests), and prepare to do it all again next week. Yeah, we're busy, but life is good. We have jobs and friends and plenty to do to entertain us, and a place to serve God.

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Ups and Downs of Writing

Date: March 8, 2010

Outside my window...a beautiful spring day. So beautiful that I had the patio doors open for a few hours this morning. Yay! Spring is here (I hope).
I am thinking...I had a freak out this past weekend. I was frantic because I couldn't find my main story's paper copy, which is the majority of it, since I've only typed three chapters into the computer. I searched and searched, knowing there were only a few places it could be. I started to wonder if when I sorted through my papers, I had accidentally placed it in the throw away pile. I prayed and prayed. My eyes were filling up. It represented hours of work and creativity. Then I found it tucked in between the books my husband has for his course. How it got there, I have no idea. I was never more relieved to find something. One benefit: I'm determined to get my hand-written stories onto the computer. Time is an issue, but I probably have to do it myself as a previous arrangement with someone else did not end well.
I am thankful for...our south facing deck. This morning I had the house to myself, so I sat out on the deck and wrote for two hours. I got a thousand words written, and a sense of well-being from the sunshine.
From the kitchen...linguine and shrimp (see recipe under Main Courses).
I am wearing...jeans, my SUOMI shift, a cardigan, and my beige leather jacket. Yeah, I'm feeling springy.
I am reading...The Daily Writer by Fred White. He calls it a daily devotional, although there's nothing Christian about it, but it does have an idea for every day of the year to help you cultivate the habit of writing daily, i.e. keeping a journal, writing out your dreams, blogging, describing people on a train, etc.
I am hoping...we can draw up a floor plan for the basement layout. I'd like to get the sauna built first.
I am hearing...the sound of the train. I love the gentle rocking. I'm surprised I stay awake.
Around the house...we had a great weekend, both girls were home. We used the hot tub. My husband and I had a great date Friday night. He really appreciated the 101 things I loved about him. Men need to hear those things. Then we had a family from church over for dinner on Sunday. Roast beef and good fellowship are always a good combination. I also was contacted by a producer from the CBC, asking me about an article I wrote two years ago. Funny, eh?
One of my favourite things...sunshine.
Some plans for the week...Another long week, four twelves. I have a student with me for three of the nights. It's good because they help with some of the work, like vital signs and medications. It's bad because I have to stop and explain everything I'm doing. Overall, though I enjoy training new staff or students. Then my youngest daughter's friend is visiting for the weekend. We have a dinner party on Saturday night, and a church luncheon on Sunday.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Olympics End, College and Careers Begin

Date: March 2, 2010

Outside my window...the sun is still shining, even though it's 6 p.m. Spring is coming!
I am thinking...that though the Olympics were good, it's nice to get back to normal life. Proud to be a Canadian, though. Plenty of gold medals. After the hockey win, people were out on the streets with flags. Uncharacteristic for Canadians, but nice.
I am thankful for...the good first meeting we had with the College and Careers group. There were five of them. I made pizza and brownie pizza. They're a good bunch, all saved and anxious to serve the Lord in this place and wherever else He leads. This was the ministry that's been on my heart since the summer . It's finally underway.
From the kitchen...balsamic and rosemary chicken drumsticks, scalloped potatoes, stuffing, carrots, lemon meringue pie.
I am wearing...jeans, running shoes (yay, no boots!) and a green sweater.
I am reading...One Fell Swoop by Virginia Boyd. The jury's still out, whether I like it or not, but I'll give it a chance. I'm also reading Step By Step by James C. Petty, which is the book we're going through with the C&C group on divine guidance and knowing God's will.
I am hoping...that my Mom will be saved. I bought her a Bible in modern Finnish because all she had was the new testament. She's reading it and says it's easy to read, but she doesn't understand why Jesus was crucified. Lord, open her eyes!
I am hearing...the soothing voice of Spence, my Customer Service Ambassador on the GO train.
Around the house...the other night while we were waiting for our daughter who was at a party, we were killing time and ended up in a Chapters. I know you're surprised to learn I bought a book, well, three actually. I bought a cookbook called Comfort Foods, a book on writing called The Daily Writer, and a book called GRRRREAT Romance. It has 101 date ideas. We've done something similar before and it really revitalized our marriage. I think the recent move to the new house caused some stress on our marriage and we've both been kind of snippy. Anyway, I chose my first one. I had to come up with 101 things I loved about my husband. I knew I could think of some, but 101? Yet, when I started, the ideas just flowed, and I wrote it in one sitting. That says something about him, doesn't it? It's all those little things together that make up why I love him. Mushy, eh?
One of my favourite things...watching the Biathlon. The origin of the sport is the Winter war between Finland and Russia in 1939. Finnish snipers dressed in white would ski in, snipe and ski away. I'm amazed at the Norwegian Bjorndalen. He is a machine. He's one of my favourite athletes of all time.
A few plans for the three more nights. Date night Friday, Ladies' meeting Saturday morning, friends over in the afternoon, house stuff in the evening, church Sunday with friends over for lunch, church Sunday night. We bought a new stove and it arrives on Thursday. My mom also bought a new car, a Honda Civic which also arrives on Thursday.