Hi everybody, since it’s the middle of the winter,
and the world is STILL not back to normal,
here is a little “nature break” video for you – with chill music!
It’s a collection of pictures and videos I took in the neighborhood park, most in 2020.
I hope it gives you that “Ahhhh” feeling.
And especially for you, my fellow Albertans, enjoy some colors (besides white!) …and remember that those “Extreme Cold Warning” emergency alerts on our phones will one day be a thing of the past!
Here’s the link again: https://youtu.be/zKykIjbUrkY
Sit back, take a few deep breaths, relax and enjoy the gorgeous music, “Teth”, courtesy of
Angelo God’s Minstrel
A HUGE thank you for your generosity!
“Yet with the woes of sin and strife the world hath suffered long;
Beneath the angel-strain have rolled two thousand years of wrong;
And man, at war with man, hears not the love song which they bring:
O hush the noise, ye men of strife, And hear the angels sing.”from “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear” by Edmund Sears
Woes, sin, suffering, years of wrongdoing, war, strife… it seems like I’ve been hearing more of those words than usual these past few years.
So here we are in the end of the year “holiday”. But is it possible to find rest with our spirit so weary from life around us?
Many of the original holidays were holy-days, a time to focus on the spiritual health of individuals, a community or nation. They were intended as an opportunity to put the day-to-day work on hold, in order to have time to intentionally celebrate or remember significant spiritual principles or events.
What about now? Are spiritual matters that important these days?
I think so. I believe that we live eternally as a spirit, we have a soul, and we dwell in a body.
It’s easy and natural to focus on the physical and mental parts of our lives. I think that’s because they are, for the most part, visible and tangible. The spiritual side is intangible, however. And intangible may mean hard it’s hard to grasp its significance.
It might be that our spirit just doesn’t make as much noise, so we need some inner quiet to hear it.
What brought this to my attention was really listening to the lyrics of some classic Christmas songs. In them I heard a longing for relief from the powers of evil, from guilt, and from the tendency to sin, to go astray from what is right. And I also heard words of joy and peace coming to hearts of those who had found spiritual hope or rest.
Here are a few examples:
“Long lay the world in sin and error pining, ’til he appear’d and the soul felt its worth. A thrill of hope the weary soul rejoices…” (from “O Holy Night”)
“Then let us all with one accord sing praises to our heavenly Lord;
That hath made heaven and earth of naught, and with his blood mankind hath bought” (from “The First Noel”)
“Fear not then”, said the Angel, “Let nothing you affright… this day is born a savior… To free all those who trust in Him from Satan’s power and might…Oh tidings of comfort and joy!” (from “God rest ye Merry Gentlemen”)
“No more let sins and sorrows grow, nor thorns infest the ground; he comes to make His blessings flow far as the curse is found. He rules the world with truth and grace and makes the nations prove the glories of His righteousness and wonders of His love!” (from “Joy to the World”)
We need those things: goodness, light, a savior, mercy, a feeling of worth, reconciliation, fearlessness, deliverance, blessings, truth, grace, love. And when we can’t depend on our physical or mental powers, or mankind, scientists or governments to give them to us, we need to look at the spiritual, the divine.
I know it helps me immensely to focus my mind on spiritual good news. My spiritual beliefs center on Jesus, who created this beautiful world and everything in it, is the highest authority and power, paid the sin-debt I owed, and walks with me through life. What a relief for my conscience, and peace for each day. Now that is tidings of comfort and joy!
This holiday, especially after the strain of 2020, I hope you will find a quiet time to attend to your spirit, get out in nature, talk to God, hear his voice, and respond to Him.
And I wish you a healthy and happy New Year in 2021!
Ah, the joys of writing!
And today I am referring to literally WRITING, handwriting, using pen or paper–not typing. I have found handwriting or printing one of the best ways for me to create and record my thoughts.
But here I want to focus on sending snail-mail letters to people as a way to connect and keep in touch.
Coincidentally, today I received a thank you message from a dear friend who just received my card in the mail. I’d commented that I felt closer to her sending a physical card than emailing or texting, and she agreed wholeheartedly.
Also coincidentally, today I read an article by one of my favorite bloggers who writes about the joys and opportunities of handwriting and sending snail mail. Barb at ritewhileucan.com is full of creative ideas and has a heart for brightening up someone’s day with a card or letter. She just posted about an opportunity to be a pen pal with a senior in a care centre, who are especially lonely because of lockdowns. I am looking into to adding one of these dear ones to my snail mail pen pal list. Thanks, Barb!
Go to Rite While U Can and see more precious smiling faces of men and women with their written notes to potential pen pals!
There are also many other similar initiatives catching on around the world, in Canada, the U.K., Australia, to name a few. Check out these news stories!
You may be inspired to pen a letter or send a card to one of your loved ones, or one of the seniors at a website. If so, I hope you’ll post a comment about it below!
image courtesy of https://www.pexels.com/@shkrabaanthony
Are you, like me, dusting off some stories or manuscripts that have been filed away for a few years? If so, you probably want to find homes for them.
Or, you might be looking for periodicals that are in need of exactly the kind of articles you write.
Let me tell you about a website I recent discovered, Freedom with Writing.
Most of the online resources I’ve found focus on either non-fiction or fiction, but Freedom with Writing focuses on both, which I like. It’s free and couldn’t be simpler: they send you emails with valuable links to writing opportunities. Apparently, they have been going since 1999!
I can never just “scan” their emails, like I can many others. They are full of meaty information all the time. On top of that, the format is an absolute joy: clean, clear, simple, to the point, giving you in a glance exactly the information you are looking for.
Take their home page, for example. It looks similar to many other websites offering to help you find success. But once you start clicking on their links, you can tell they put in a lot of time and energy into digging up valuable information and passing it on to you.
They also lend a helping hand to newbies like me with various straightforward, useful articles, such as how to send in your proposal, or helping you understand the realities of the freelance life.
Here is an example of two entries I found today while browsing the information under “95 Technology and Science Blogs, Magazines, and Websites that Pay Writers” on their home page.
The following is a list of 95 technology publishers that accept pitches directly from freelance writers, and pay for the writing they publish. Payment rates in this area tend to be higher than some other categories; blog posts for a programming site are often in the $200 to $500 range. If you’re not sure how to approach these publishers, then be sure to watch this free webinar.
And here are a couple from today’s “24 Free Writing Contests & Cash Grants (Up to $30,000)”, also on their home page.
Today, I STRUCK GOLD! 35 Themed Calls for Submissions (Non-fiction, essays, etc.) This article is what inspired me to write this blog post. It is right up my alley!
Now, I tend to be overly trusting, so these days I scan reviews of EVERYTHING. I was happy to see that there are many others who agree with my positive reaction to Freedom with Writing. Here are a few:
If you check out Freedom with Writing, let me know what you think!
Have fun dusting and getting your creative works out there!
[“laptop-and-diary-on-table-in-garden-4559527” photo courtesy of Ketut Subiyanto from Pexels;
Gold photo courtesy of James St. John at Flickr : “Gold-quartz hydrothermal vein (16 to 1 Mine, Allegheny County, California, USA)” ]
UPDATED ON MAY 31, 2020
At this time of year, I usually post information to help you plan for the Calgary’s biggest and best used book sales, but this year things are (obviously) a bit different…
RESET Calgary usually holds the first used book sale at the Crossroads Market. Here is the note on their website:
“We have made the decision to postpone the 18th Annual Book Drive & Sale. We are truly sorry that the Book Drive & Sale will not be able to move forward in the spring as in previous years, but we are feeling excited about the possibilities for this event next year.
This is an extremely important fundraiser for our agency as it provides over 12% of our revenue and we thank you for your considering supporting RESET Society in other ways during this time: https://resetcalgary.ca/how-you-can-help/”
The Calgary READS sale is usually at the Calgary Curling Club, and they are planning their used book sale for the fall of 2020. BUT in the meantime, they need your donations of new and “like-new” CHILDREN’S books NOW.
“If you are able to donate “gently used” children’s books, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will provide instructions on how to donate.”
And for those who just can’t wait for the in-person used book sales, you can still shop online. Although the following do not offer as many incredible deals as RESET and Calgary READS will offer, here are some used book stores to get you started:
Calgary’s Fair’s Fair used bookstore updated their webpage: “Our Inglewood store will be OPEN to the Public effective THURSDAY, MAY 14th 10:00 am – 4:00 pm – 7 DAYS A WEEK“.
Calgary’s Better Books and Bibles (new and used Christian books) has posted this notice on their website: “We are opening our doors again on Saturday May 30th! Our hours will remain the same (10-2) but will increase if business calls for it. We are very excited to see all of you again!” https://www.betterbooksandbibles.com/
AbeBooks, founded in Victoria, B.C., Canada, now worldwide, has a page for searching for books with free shipping to Canada.
Better World Books has free shipping to Canada, and has several deals happening now. As their website says, “Every time you purchase a book on betterworldbooks.com, we donate a book to someone in need.”
Powell’s Books is included in my list because it is near and dear to my heart. This “City of Books” was established in 1971 and is also one of the top attractions in the city of Portland. In the two hours I had allotted to explore it in 2007, I only made it through about a third of this unique store.
Happy reading to all!
Wishing you all health, safety, sanity, and patience as we get through this time!
Life is still beautiful. Consider yourself hugged.
[Warm appreciation to photographer Artem Beliaikin for the “Pile of Books” image!]
I hope all of you authors and aspiring authors out there will get a chuckle from this 1958 film. I did, and as a writer I also found it encouraging.
While researching video viewing options online, I ran across many sources of entertainment and education (see below), including the National Film Board of Canada. I decided to check out this vintage work because it was about the writing life.
This 30-minute film, “First Novel“, dramatizes the struggles of a novelist. In spite of the excitement of finding a publisher for his book, he gets a reality check from the editor, a visit from a college buddy who wants help to write his own story, and neighbors gossiping about the faithful wife who goes off to work everyday while her bum of a husband “doesn’t work”. And of course he battles self-doubt, and the ever-present worry about the lack of money coming in (look Ma, no pension!).
It has the feel of a 1950s film or television show, wholesome and rather endearing. The author and his wife are being pulled by the typical dilemma of a writer, or any other artist: practicality, or “writing what you want to write and letting the money take care of itself”.
While I watched it, I tried to figure out the purpose of the film. Was it to encourage Canadian authors? (Or discourage them?) I kept waiting for someone to break into the story and say something profound to the would-be-authors in the viewing audience.
The script was co-written by the well-known award-winning Canadian author Mordecai Richler, no doubt inspired by some of his own experiences. “First Novel” also stars Len Birman as the author in one of his first screen appearances.
…And about those other online viewing options, here are a few gems that caught my eye:
Internet Archive – “A non-profit library of millions of free books, movies, software, music, websites, and more”: a weather report from 1974, “The Day of the Killer Tornadoes” (not Tomatoes)
Pluto TV: All Aboard (train trips in Norway, Spain, wherever–I can’t take my eyes off the screen)
YouTube: Classic movies
and, of course, YouTube: Kitten Academy Live Stream, just purr fun!
I grew up in the U.S. in a predominantly white neighborhood during the sixties and seventies. My city’s school system began forced busing when I was eleven years old, just as I was leaving elementary school and preparing to start junior high. It was a controversy that sparked violence and unrest.
From a social media group established for our 40 year high school reunion, I know that many people of all races suffered from this mandatory integration. Personally, aside from a couple minor incidents, my memories of that time are good.
I enjoyed meeting new friends of all races, and grew in my respect toward my non-white classmates. I am sure that the forced busing policy accomplished some of its goals to intermix blacks and whites successfully.
(If you’re interested, here are two articles I saved from the city newspaper in the early 1970s. One covers a sit-in protest by students, and another shows a more peaceful option for trying to find common ground among different races.)
So did that experience influence the writing of my third book? You decide.
Last year I was pleased to write another educational book intended for the Canadian school curriculum. It turned out to be my favorite so far!
This is the first biographical work I’ve done, and I so enjoyed discovering many unsung heroes! It was nearly impossible to choose which to include in the book, but I am so happy with how the book turned out. I especially love the many full-sized photos.
Some of the heroes included are:
Rose Fortune, Viola Desmond, Addie Aylestock,
Oscar Peterson, Willie O’Ree, Portia White,
Drake, Phylicia George, and Eugenia Duodo.
I hope you’ll be curious enough to look up these great Canadians!
Black History in Canada is a series of educational books published by Beech Street books. My book is entitled Famous Black Canadians and intended for students in grades 4 through 6.
One of the joys of the holiday is settling down
after all the energetic activities
to read inspired holiday fiction.
You are no doubt familiar with some of the well-known holiday books and short stories…
Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol… The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Anderson…
Eugene Field’s The First Christmas Tree… O. Henry’s The Gift of the Magi…
A Visit from St. Nicholas (‘Twas the night before Christmas) by Clement Clarke Moore…
And, of course, the sacred Bible accounts of the first Christmas.
Well, here are some gems that I’ve recently discovered.
They are not as well known, perhaps, but are some of the most beautiful holiday stories I’ve read!
“Christmas Day in the Morning” by Pearl S. Buck
A farm boy works so hard, only to see disappointment in his father’s eyes, until one Christmas he overhears his parents’ conversation and learns what Dad really thinks of him.
My Christmas Miracle by Taylor Caldwell
A true story of the lowest point of her life
“A Christmas Inspiration” by Lucy Maud Montgomery
Fun-loving young women living together in a boarding house take notice of one of their quirky, quiet neighbors.
“A Gift from the Heart” by Norman Vincent Peale
The true story of a young Swiss girl employed by a wealthy American family and her Christmas surprise.
The Father Christmas Letters by J.R.R. Tolkien (1976)
A collection of letters the author wrote from 1920 to 1943 to his children “from Father Christmas”.
and, my VERY favorite,
The Man at the Gate of the World by W.E. Cule
The Magi Caspar’s quest to find the Saviour of the World, and his obedience to the call to stand at the Gate of the World—in the city of Damascus—and wash the feet of weary travelers.
Most of these I found during the past few weeks of reading these two books:
A Classic Christmas, and The Fireside Book of Christmas Stories.
For more selections…
Here is American Literature’s beautiful collection of Christmas Stories, and
(I can’t resist!) Linus’s version of the first Christmas.
Wishing you many peaceful, happy hours of reading, and
A HAPPY NEW YEAR 2020!