Category Archives: Random Musings

Working from Home – Week 3

Hopefully you’re in a groove now. I know I am even though there are moments where I just want to curl up on the couch for a nap.

I find mid-afternoons are the hardest. My husband turns on the TV for his afternoon fix. Dr,Phil, Ellen and then Dr. Oz. He is a huge sports fan but since there isn’t anything happening with any team, he’s made Dr. Phil his plan B.

I can work through Dr. Phil without any problem but I enjoy Ellen. I find myself paying attention to her even though I’m not in the same room as the TV. Dr Oz comes on around the same time I would have been leaving the office, so I don’t feel guilty for shutting down my computer and heading in to spend time with my husband and watch the show. Dr. Oz at least has some interesting topics and his guests are usually legit. (except for the whole true crime segments – that doesn’t seem to jive with the rest of his MO. Maybe that’s just me though.)

We are progressing in ways we didn’t expect when this all started. At work, we’ve digitized a lot of our processes that we’d been procrastinating on switching. It hasn’t been completely smooth as we’re making the changes under duress and necessity, instead of following a well planned process. Right now, some tasks take longer than the old way but it eliminates the need to pass papers back and forth between the staff. That alone makes it worth it in these days of Coronavirus.

I hope you are all well and adapting. These are weird days and I believe that we’re just starting to hit the halfway point. Stay strong and stay safe.

Working From Home – Day 3

When my husband retired I told him to find a schedule. Find something to do and someplace to go, even if it’s just to the Tim Horton’s on the corner. Always give yourself a goal for each day.

Yes, for now I am working from home, so I have plenty to do. But as this pandemic spreads and more people get sick, I will have fewer daily tasks to keep me occupied. I work for a construction company and once the job sites close down, the paper work will dwindle and they won’t need the same level of administration support. And, let’s face it. I was already transitioning away from my job, to look after my husband.

So, I’m taking my own advice. I’m creating a schedule that will see me through the next year or two. Because even once this crisis is over, I’ll still be home caring for hubby.

I’ve decided to start commuting to work. Instead of waking up, pouring a coffee and heading down the hall to my office, I’m descending the stairs to the exercise bike that has been gathering dust lately.

For the past six years I’ve been weightlifting in the gym at the office. The bosses even provided a personal trainer which helped keep me motivated and in proper form. Even though I could deadlift 225lbs, (before you get too excited, I’m a fatty so that was barely my body weight) my doctor said weightlifting is great but I needed cardio too. So I started walking at lunch. Within 4 months I was bored with just walking so I started jogging my fat ass up and down the trails.

I’ve fallen off the wagon since September as shit started to get real with my husband. If I stayed on this course of emotional eating and lack of motivation, I was going to be in big trouble. Especially since I take barely 2000 steps when I’m working from home as opposed to 6000 just wandering around the office. So exercise bike it is. I’ve even brought up a set of hand weights to use when I’m taking a break at my desk.

This will be the start of my new schedule. Wake up, start the coffee maker, do a mini Tour-de-France and then continue on with my day. I do a bit of stretching afterward so that my legs don’t seize up when I’m at my desk. Eventually I’ll try one of those yoga videos to stretch me out after sitting all day.

After all, if you go online there are thousands of workouts available. Even more now that the gyms are closed and trainers need to stay relevant. Hell, just find a piece of marching music on Spotify and lift your knees high and swing your arms to the beat.

Added bonus, exercise gets you out of your head and eases some of your stress so that you can better look after yourself and those around you.

Let’s commute together!

Life and the Pandemic

I’ve been away from writing for a while as you can probably see by my lack of posts. Life, in all of it’s glory, got in the way.

I got married, lived happily ever after until recently. I was already in the process of transitioning away from my full time job to look after my husband as he declines. Yup – I’m staring widowhood square in the face and it’s not a pretty sight.

Then along came the Covid19 pandemic which threatens to take my husband sooner rather than later.

Life can be a bitch!!

So here I sit at my computer in my home office, winding down the work day of my full tie job ,while still in my pajama pants and slippers pondering what to do next.

I’ve been preparing for my semi-retirement for a while. Over the past few months I’ve been gathering all of the partial stories I’ve abandoned since my wedding and organized them into priorities, genres and tasks to get myself back into the publishing game. Note to self – having several genres is going to be a publishing challenge.

This Coronavirus pandemic has hastened me along because I’m going to have a lot of spare time in the days and weeks ahead. IF I don’t have something to occupy my over-active imagination, I’m going to be in real trouble.

It will be a little bit different this time. I’m not going to edit and publish other people’s work like I did when I was half of PaperBox Books. This time it’s all about me.

While doing my research, it’s been fun to see what changes have been made since I stopped publishing.

I’ve been an avid subscriber to the Amazon Kindle platform for a couple of years and was excited to see how they’ve simplified the process and made it so much easier to publish a book.

Having said that, from a reader’s perspective, there are a lot of great stories that I’ve stopped reading because the writing sucked. No matter how fascinating the characters or the plot, if I had to keep internally correcting the wording or grammar I’d get frustrated and find another book.

Amazon Kindle pays it’s authors per page read. It doesn’t matter if you have 100 people downloading your book, if no one can make it past the first 10 pages, you’re killing your revenue. Not only for that book but many readers won’t ever attempt to read anything by you again.

So as a writer, I’m taking all I’ve learned to heart. Who am I kidding, I was already super anal about grammar, spelling and story flow. Now I just have to get my butt in gear and finish a few of these stories and get them out there.

Hopefully posting this will help to keep me accountable, while the roller-coaster called life has its wicked way with me.

Keep safe out there!

oops

As I sat at my desk this morning trying to avoid housework, I realized it’s been a while since I blogged. I actually blogged about my almost failed trip to Banff last month, but it’s still sitting in draft mode. Probably a good thing, since the story is about to become a novel (don’t want to give too much away).

Yeah, I’ve carved out some time to write for myself. This new novel is the battle of wills between a moderately successful writer such as myself and the great writer in the sky. A deity, who follows the advice we’ve all been given, such as, ‘keep throwing stuff at your characters’, ‘test their limits’, ‘see what they can do’.

Great advice if you’re a writer, not so much if you feel like the character in one of their novels.

So the new story is based on my trip to Banff in March, i.e. ridiculously delayed flights and arriving almost too late to pick up the rental car. Happily that’s where the two stories part ways. In real life mine continues with a lost wallet, panic and a trek back to the Calgary airport to retrieve it. In the novel my heroine veers off the road at 3am to avoid hitting an elk. She’s thrust into a world of rapid time and morphing landscape where she meets a guy… and then stuff happens. (Hey, I’m a pantser. I know how the story ends, but I have no idea what’s going to happen to them between now and then.)

I also have a second story on the go. I’ve been writing it as part of the Toasted Cheese Sunday Brunch Prompts. In this one, she’s an arson investigator and he’s like Prof. Trevor Anderson in the Journey to the Centre of the Earth. She’s found a medallion that acts like a portal through time and space and well… let’s just say her new pet is… interesting.

In between writing my own stuff, I’ve been reading a lot of submissions for PaperBox Books. They’re coming in fast and furious and the quality is looking pretty good. I’ve already called for a few full manuscripts. Things are really starting to hop over at PBB.

OK – I’ve delayed long enough – it’s Saturday morning and I want to finish housework so I can go out to work in my gardens. Sunny spring days in Vancouver on the weekend are rare – can’t waste this one.

*sigh*

Realized last night just how long it’s been since I blogged. After this stunning realization what did I do? closed the window and did something else…. Bad Buckley.

Lots has happened over the past few months.

New job, new books (mine and our author’s). In July, I went home for my brother’s wedding and a mini road-trip with one of my best friends, Tim.

The wedding rocked. I’m glad to welcome my new sister and her two children into our family and to be accepted into theirs too. Tim and I had a great road trip. It was a learning experience for both of us… and despite Tim’s dire predictions, we were still speaking to each other by the time we got back home.

Leaving New Brunswick to come back to BC has been really hard over this past year since Dad died. I’ve done it three times now, and it’s getting easier, but I still fell guilty every time I step onto that plane to come back out West.

Looks like my next few trips won’t be quite so long though – Seattle with Wil and friends in a couple of weeks and Banff to meet up with Robin and her family for their March break.

Okay – now that you’re all caught up the next blog will be all about the writing – I promise.

Distruction is the Lazy Man’s Way

This isn’t just about the recent riots in Vancouver, it a general observation. Although, the riots prompted me to talk about it.

Have you ever noticed how the destructive folks cite a noble cause to justify their actions. Violence to combat homelessness, computer viruses to bring down Microsoft – the list goes on.

To me these are lazy solutions.

You want to stop homelessness, devote your energy to helping. Don’t cause even more money to be spent on the thing you hate (like the Olympics) which only diverts funds away from the cause you’re supposed to be championing.

You hate Microsoft and want to take it down, then build a better system and make it free. Kill their money flow and they’ll disappear.

I saw a saying etched into one of my desk chairs back at university that has stuck with me over the years, “Fighting for peace is like fucking for virginity.”

For those truly committed to their causes, maybe it’s time to rethink strategies.

Post Game/Riot Observations

Initially, I wasn’t going to join the throng, but after a few days of pondering I thought I’d weigh in on my insights.

They are not accusatory. I’m hoping they may help Vancouver save face a little and perhaps help plan better for next time. Hindsight of course is 20/20.

I was downtown for four of the final round games and in Surrey for two of them. Although, I’ll admit I didn’t stay in the fan zone in Surrey, I passed by it just before and just after the game. Admittedly it was much smaller, and didn’t have nearly the threat potential as downtown.

Mayor Gregor Robertson had it right. Having a fan zone was a better alternative to having thousands of fans wandering the streets during game time.

The initial set up of having three separate fan zones needed tweaking. The merchants along Granville were blocked that first Saturday. I loved it when they created the giant zone surrounding the Vancouver Public Library.

The police and security controlled the crowd as they came in bags were good-naturedly searched and there was enough of an incline to enable people to sit down and allow those behind to see. Cops were on patrol and even the older security guards were shown respect. When we won there were high fives and hugs all around. When we lost there were a lot of shrugs and ‘next game’s.

It was what you’d expect from a Canadian fan zone.

Game 7 was different. Thanks to the media, there was an expectation of a riot. Most of the kids you see in the pictures were barely walking in ’94. Had the ’94 riot been downplayed, the idea of rioting probably wouldn’t have entered their heads.

On the night of Game 7, my roommate arrived in the fan zone around 4pm. At that time bags were still being searched and the entry points were controlled by security. By the time I arrived at 5pm. There was no security and the gates had been removed. Word spread quickly to anyone still heading downtown… bring booze.

The next thing I noticed was that the large screen at the bottom of Georgia had been moved. Instead of being centered in the middle of the street had been set-up over to the side. It caused a lot of aggression within the crowd. Instead of the blind spot being over in the relatively small area of the library courtyard, it was almost the entire centre of Georgia Street which affected a lot more viewers.

People were pushing their their way through the already packed crowd trying to get to where they could see the screen. Some were very aggressive which only heightened the frustration in the folks they shoved aside.

Alcohol was everywhere. Very little of it was beer.

One of the groups in front of me was a bunch of university/college students. Well dressed, excited and eager for the game. They each had 2 bottles in their hands. One of ‘water’ and another of pop. It took me a minute to realize the water bottles were filled with vodka. By the 2nd period, the water bottles were finished and they were drinking out of pint bottles which latecomers had brought. One started guzzling out of a quart bottle. I was actually relieved when one of them started smoking pot. It seemed to calm them and the crowd around them (and yes probably me too).

Even before the puck dropped at the start of the game, I was hearing comments like, “I can’t wait to see the riot.” and “It’s going to be so cool.” Mostly from kids who would never on their own started a riot but were eager to watch one happen. I’ll bet if you asked them before the game if they would participate, they would have said no. We just want to watch. Never thinking for a second they’d fall victim to mob-mentality.

The only police presence I saw was the police checking open bottles as we left Granville Station and the cops directing traffic.

Let’s flash back to the big party on Granville that first Saturday. There were no check points either, but the cops were visible. They had rooftop cameras and strode through the crowd in groups of 8. There were several pour-outs and a few incidents but the crowd was well behaved. The police were visible, and by traveled in large groups they were sending a clear message. Do NOT start.

I have to ask why wasn’t this done for Game 7. Bigger crowds, should have meant a bigger preventative measure. I’m not naive enough to think that this would have prevented a riot. There were people who came downtown equipped to start chaos. The difference would have been that there would have been more separation between the fan zone and the riot zone.

Those 20-somethings I heard all excited about the riot would have gone home disappointed about the game. They would have been sober and if a riot broke out on the next block, they would likely have thought twice about joining in.

And I know, it’s easy for me to talk after the fact. I wasn’t involved in the prevention/ emergency measures decision making process and have no access to the manpower data that the VPD and the RCMP had to work with.

But, I do know the preventative measures that worked for the previous games were not carried through to Game 7.

My advice for next time is plan for the crowd.

There weren’t enough screens or speakers. Next time pay attention to the numbers. There were estimates of how many folks they were expecting so it follows if you’re expecting a bigger crowd don’t try to squeeze them into a space too small to accommodate. Next time block-off more streets, add more screens to make sure everyone can see. This will increase the enjoyment for the crowd, decrease their frustrations – and as a bonus it will also increase the number of entry and exit points to make for a smoother disbursement of the crowd when the event is finished.

Stick to the no alcohol policy. It worked. I love having a beer while watching a game. But If I’m going to a public place, I have no problem sacrificing the beer to be part of the crowd. From the size of the well behaved crowed during previous games, I wasn’t the only one with this attitude.

 

I am extremely proud of the way the real fans and Vancouverites gathered downtown to clean up a mess they didn’t make. I’m pleased that the media stopped calling the rioters ‘fans’ This is a very necessary distinction. And I hope that they report responsibly next time and not focus on the sensational riot but remind potential participants how devastating it was to Vancouver and the livelihoods of the people who reside here. How social media swooped in to help capture the looters and the sentences they faced.

I hope they remind the next group of young people that the goal isn’t to join in and have a bigger riot but to avoid having one all together.

And for the record, I’m probably more of a Canucks fan now than I was when the series started. Even though our boys didn’t play well enough to win the cup, they behaved like true sportsman. I’m very proud of them and their accomplishments.

Mom, men and monster to-do lists

Mom arrives here on Wednesday for a week. We lost Dad last August, so this is her first solo venture outside of my hometown without him.

Instead of holing up in her house like a weak widow, she’s staying with me on her way back from New Zealand. She’s been there for almost a month visiting her sister and nephews. She’s been able to see places and things my grandmother (her mother) described when she talked about growing up in New Zealand. I’ve talked to Mom on Skype a few times and she’s having a ball. She’s spending her last weekend in Rotorua, checking out all the geothermic pools and catching a Maori Haungi (feast) and live show.

I’m so proud of her.

In other news, I’ve turfed my guy. It wasn’t working out and I’m pleased that I recognized the path we were taking and decided to leave instead of doing my usual ‘hold on til the last hope and get crushed in the process’ thing. So “Yay me.”

This week it seems I’ve been attacked by the to-do list from hell. Every time I look at it I swear it’s doubled in size. As fast as I knock one thing off it, three more appear.

It’s not fair.

Especially since it’s sunny outside and I want to go play in my gardens, which technically are on the list, just not a priority this weekend.

Why did I want to be an adult again?

New Novel is Coming

Whew – I’ve been editing my butt off over the past few weeks… well months really. Hiding in Plain Sight is finally uploaded and will be available through Smashwords and Amazon by the end of this week. I’m almost too exhausted to be excited… almost 🙂

I thought that doing this book would be a lot easier than the two versions of ‘Jake‘ but I was wrong. I guess with all I learned from the first go ’round, I’m even pickier now. Happily, I think it made for a better story. Let’s hope you agree!

Now I think I deserve to sit back with a glass of wine and relax.

Alas, no such luck, now it’s on to marketing and housecleaning (my Mom gets here Thursday for an overnight stay enroute to visit New Zealand)

End of February… really?

How the heck did this month go by so quickly?

Seriously, it was the first of the month only a few days ago. I guess it’s true when they say time flies when you’re having fun…. and it’s been VERY fun.

I will finish the edits for ‘Hiding in Plain Sight’ today. It’s taken me longer than expected to do it so while I’m a bit bummed at the delay, I’ve very pleased with the results. The feedback from my proofreaders has been awesome and I’ve made some tweaks that really make it better. A huge thank you to you all.

Work has been spectacular. I made a joke to a couple of my friends that they’d have to bring someone in to do the grunt work for me because I’ve stepped in and been able to do some bigger things than what I was hired to do. It’s happened, well at least they’ve been making arrangements for someone to cover the front while I take care of a project with a tight deadline.

The people are fantastic and the feedback I’ve received from one of the people who hired me is that he’s hearing great things about me. They’re very pleased with the way I just see what needs to be done and do it. (Now if I could just apply that to my housekeeping skills…)

The guy is still around. It’s been over two months and we’re still having fun. Actually I just got off the phone with him. He makes me happy.

Last fall, after NaNoWriMo was done, I said to my friend that I was going to start dating again. My schedule had been too busy for far too long and I wanted someone just for me. He asked me what I was looking for and I said someone strong, independent, who will respect me and take care with me yet not smother me because I still have a busy life and an insane schedule.

There must be something to that whole theory of ‘tell the universe what you want and it will get it for you’.

I met my guy less than a month later. He runs his own business, with several employees and he has children who he spends a lot of time with. He loved to laugh and is appreciative of the good things in his life – which is a really important facet of personality for me. We don’t get to see each other a lot, but we keep in contact every day.

It works, it’s wonderful and it’s exactly what I wanted. I like it

Now to cuddle up on my recliner and get this book finished so we can upload it for sale.

Go Sue GO!