Although I love being able to text and email, there is really nothing like a card or letter to hold in your hand and a handwritten message inside. (I guess the only thing better is being there in person, but it isn’t always possible, right?)
I have been greatly inspired and encouraged to revive my enjoyment of sending snail mail cards and letters by my friend Barb who blogs at RiteWhileYouCan.com. I met her in the collectible books section of a used book sale that raises funds for literacy. We browsed through a fascinating old book together, and when we realized that we both blogged, we started following each others posts.
I enthusiastically joined her last year when she invited readers to send encouraging snail-mail letters to the struggling members of a First Nations band in northern Ontario. Recently Barb shared some great pen-pal sites with me, and now I am again in awe of her creative compassion as I read her most recent post, “Send a Christmas card to someone who is homeless“.
I am sending at least one card, and I am using Barb’s Resources page for help in composing messages. I hope you’ll been inspired to send one, or have the children in your life send a card (here are Samples of Cards sent by children). They’d love your card to be sent by November 30th, or at the latest have it in the mail by December 10th.
I am thankful for Barb’s compassionate heart and her practical ways of making others’ lives better, and I hope you’ll pass this along!
Specializing in used children’s books, a big selection of quality books, including children’s books, classics, Christmas and Christian books, are available at this sale!
Prices start at ONLY $2 PER BOOK
Last fall, I happened upon this sale sponsored by Used Book Treasures, and loved it. I bought 3 gems, including two unique Christmas books written by classic authors, for only $3 each.
You’ll find picture books, young reader books, historical fiction, science, chapter books, Usborne and much more!
Come and browse!
The Lutheran Church of our Savior
in southeast Calgary
at 8831 Fairmont Drive SE
Thursday November 2nd, 2017 – 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Friday November 3rd, 2017 – 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Saturday November 4th, 2017 – 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
If you need more information,
email email@example.com or call (403) 254-2686.
Treat yourself to a nice browse-through and see what treasures you find! Do some Christmas shopping and find great gifts for all ages, especially kids.
Home-schoolers, you don’t want to miss this one!
Here are some of my treasures from last year, excellent books by excellent authors:
Maybe I’ll see you there!
If you had offered me a book with a rather off-putting cover drawing about a family who endured the hardships of trying to make a living on a farm in the late 1800’s, I’d have probably declined. That’s been done in various scenarios, and sounds depressing. I’d have preferred something with more pizzazz and originality.
But when I found this book on the shelf of a thrift store, I discovered some key information to change my mind. It was published in 1953, the author’s name was familiar, she had won a Pulitzer Prize, and it was $2.50 that would go toward a good cause. Seemed like a good bet, and a good book to bring home. And was it ever.
The story centers around Ase, whose brother Ben is the apple of his mother’s eye. After his father dies, Ben leaves the farm to seek fortune and adventure. Their mother grieves his loss, and will not believe that he went on his own volition. She never pretends to have any affection for Ase, but he nevertheless devotes himself to her care and making a success of their farm. He marries energetic trickster Nellie and they start a family. He is a thoughtful philosophical dreamer, yet too responsible to let his own longings interfere with his duties.
Ase is wise, yet timid and unable to articulate what is in his huge heart and his keen mind, so others find him an easy target, including his own children. He opens his home to those down on their luck, and finds true friendship in unlikely places. Through hopeful and sad events, despite all the years that go by without any word of him, Ase never stops hoping for the return of his brother.
From page one The Sojourner was too gripping to put down, and I didn’t want to miss one single word. Each character in turn was introduced in a few pages to make you feel as if you had known them for a lifetime. Each had their own strengths and weaknesses, triumphs and failures. The intense commitment of the farming community to their livelihood and to one another show the stoicism and dedication that built the powerful American society of the early twentieth century.
Reading it was a quiet experience. I don’t just mean that I read it in silence; it also calmed my mind. The longer I read, the more I joined this family miles away from the nearest neighbor, and enjoyed the restful evenings without electricity, as though I could hear the silent breeze rustling the grass in their distant field. All of these combined to make a quality story of depth, common yet uncommon humanity, spiritual truth, and a satisfying outcome.
Following the motivations, decisions and outcomes in each of their journeys was illuminating. It makes me feel like I understand those in my little circle, and people all around the world, even more. It is the kind of book I keep hoping to discover in contemporary fiction and rarely seem to find. (Please enlighten me if you have found otherwise, I’d love to find some great contemporary fiction!) And the wonderful thing is that in learning more about her, I have discovered nine more novels of hers to read.
Marjorie Rawlings’ classic novel is a great example of why I comb the vintage book sections and why I trust the classic authors of fifty or more years ago. Tell me: where else can you get a heartwarming, inspiring experience every evening for three weeks…all for the grand total of two-and-a-half dollars?
Alberta was formally declared a province of Canada on September 1, 1905. To celebrate the 112th birthday tomorrow of my province, and to celebrate the publication this month of my book, Respect Our World: Sustainability, I thought I’d share some of the ways that Albertans work toward sustainability. I admire the leadership Alberta has taken with innovative steps to a better environment for Canada.
Micro-generation is the production of electricity on a small scale by individual home owners and small businesses, using renewable and alternative energy sources. They typically use solar and wind energy, but may use other sources of energy including biomass, microcogeneration, geothermal sources, and fuel cells.
The microgeneration regulation was recently revised to make it easier for Albertans to generate electricity for their own electricity needs.
The Climate Leadership Plan
The Climate Leadership Plan is a made-in-Alberta strategy to reduce carbon emissions while diversifying the economy and creating jobs. The Canadian government announced that provinces must enact an emissions reduction plan or pay a carbon tax in 2018, and this is a launch of a strategy designed specifically for Alberta’s own unique economy.
Alberta is taking a leading role in promoting energy efficiency, resource conservation and environmental measures through the growth of Alberta Green Building Technologies and Products industry, with the hope that one day many of these green technologies and products will be mandatory in the construction of new buildings.
Four corporations—Bio Solutions, Energy and Environment Solutions, Health Solutions and Technology Futures – were consolidated into one innovation powerhouse, Alberta Innovates. Through it, ideas and technologies created by Albertans receive support, and innovators, businesses and researchers can now easily tap into their collective assets – cross sectoral knowledge and expertise, funding, networks and research facilities.
I found a lot of inspiration in these initiatives and many more that I ran across while writing the book. If you have kids or are a teacher, I hope you’ll check out Respect Our World: Sustainability!
I’m so excited I can hardly stand it.
What a surprise I had yesterday, when I noticed stores are posting my children’s educational book for pre-order!
It all started last summer…
- I received my usual copy of the Children’s Writer newsletter, produced by the Institute of Children’s Literature (see my post about ICL here)
- The newsletter mentioned a book producer looking for authors to work on projects.
- Since I’d been planning to check out non-traditional publishing opportunities, I looked into it.
- I sent my writing resume to Red Line Editorial.
- In early December I received an email from Red Line, inviting me to work on a project, their series of books called To Be Canadian.
- I accepted, and said I’d like to work on the one about Sustainability.
- I spent most of my school’s Christmas holiday researching and contacting experts.
- It was a VERY tight schedule, rather exhausting, but I couldn’t believe how much fun I was having!
- I wrote evenings and weekends during January, and edited and rewrote during February.
- They accepted my manuscript, noting that they planned to publish the series in the fall.
- I proceeded to wonder for the next few months if they were really going to publish it the way I wrote it, if it will say my name anywhere, what it will look like.
- I couldn’t really believe I’d be the author of a children’s book.
But it’s true!
And yes, my name is on the cover. Whew.
If you have an inkling to pursue this kind of work-for-hire educational writing opportunity, I recommend checking out Red Line’s website , and Evelyn Christenson’s website, which lists many other educational publishers.
Thank you publicdomainpictures.net for the HAPPY image!
Art begets art.
I usually try to escape the long, cold Calgary winter when I have time off for spring break, and if I’m not exploring I like to write. The warm relaxing climate and the inspiration of the ocean brings out the creativity in me, and judging from the freely-offered art and writing that I see around beach towns, it’s clear I’m not the only one inspired.
I’m so glad the locals in some places consider this form of art worthy of permanent all-weather plaques. Here are several I’ve run across in my past few trips.
Shell Beach Symphony
Halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles is Pismo Beach, California. I’d heard of Pismo Beach (most recently on an episode of I Love Lucy!), but never been there, so I skipped my usual southern California spots in favor of this more central area. I stayed in a residential neighborhood called Shell Beach.
Wandering around the small neighborhood and the cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean, I discovered a little park. Running around the park’s perimeter alongside the cliffs is a sidewalk that passes a plaque on the ground. The lovely words on it share sentiments that perfectly describe my feelings toward the ocean.
Ever rising ever falling
Sound of surf
Sings its song to the eternal
Winds and man they come and go
But the rising falling crawling sea
Always was always is
Always free B.B.
December 12, 1974
Nearby on the sandy beach, I enjoyed warm-hearted greetings written daily in the sand by some unknown but obviously beautiful people. The longer I stayed there, the more I found the neighbors to be friendly and welcoming. Thank you Shell Beach!
“Don’t worry ‘bout a thing”
“Warm and fuzzy”
I lived in San Diego for a while and my favorite place there is Pacific Beach near the Crystal Pier.
This past April I noticed a large statue named “Pelican Pete” near the PB lifeguard station. On a plaque is the story of Pelican Pete in rhyme.
“The Ballad of P.B.
Pelican Brown was in search of a home
where he could have fun and relax
he looked for a beach that was pretty
and a sea that was swimming with snacks.
He flew up and down the long coastline
looking both far and quite near
then one day he knew he had found it
when his eyes saw the great Crystal Pier.
On the end was a big crystal ballroom
dancers came from all over the west
and since Pelican Brown loved to tango
he dressed up in his best velvet vest.
He fit right in with the others
tangoed many a night until dawn
Pelican Brown loved the beat of the music
and danced until the others were gone.
Then he’d fly out and find him some breakfast
the happiest bird all around
and everyone loved when they looked up
and caught sight of Pelican Brown.
The dancing bird soon became famous
people came from all over to see
the great crystal ballroom and dance hall
and the pelican known as P.B.
(Poem by Jan Phillips copyright Jan Phillips, Concept and sculpture by T.J. Dixon & James Nelson)
And here is one of many San Diego murals I ran across, on the outside wall of a business:
La Jolla Lifeguard Box
There is a pathway that goes along the shore in La Jolla, not too far north of Pacific Beach. If you take it past the sea lions and seals at Children’s Pool Beach (Casa Beach) and keep walking along the shore pathway, just before you get to La Jolla Cove you will see a lifeguard box which has a phone in it for emergencies (unlocked during the summer).
Lifeguard box and La Jolla Cove
Engraved on the box is this text:
FRESH DEEP SOUL PURITY
SPRAY GENTLE BREEZE
WAVES BREEZE REEFS
BODY SURF RESPECT ROCK
WORMS FINS ENDLESS
A FREE SPIRIT PALM TREE
FUN EEL GRASS MAGIC
ETERNAL CALM PICNIC
BUNGALOWS YIN YANG
I searched around for the story of this lifeguard box with all the interesting words, and found this account :
High on a craggy bluff overlooking the churning surf in La Jolla stands this weathered sea-green box, a proud, life-affirming icon dedicated to lifeguards everywhere, embossed with transcendent words and phrases that evoke the heart and soul of the brave men and women who save lives on this rugged coast. Take a closer look, and you’ll see how beautifully these words connect us with the creed that draws lifeguards and surfers to the Pacific: “spray, waves, eel grass, tranquility, spirit, adrenaline.” The box demonstrates the power of primal engagement with the forces of nature in all sorts of fields and pursuits, in taking the time and effort to carve out our unique and vital code.
…The long summer days remind us to pause and reflect and experience life anew. This box is more than just a box. It’s about life and death, a memorial to a legendary body surfer and lifeguard who drowned here at Boomer Beach. During the summer the box is unlocked and contains a phone to contact the lifeguards during an emergency. Read downwards starting under the “E” of LIFEGUARD, and you will find his name spelled out in an acrostic puzzle: DAVID C FREEMAN.
What a lovely surprise to discover Beach Literature, and the fond memories of those who live there, adding to the enjoyment of already idyllic spots! I hope you enjoyed these gems, and you’ll share similar discoveries of your own!
Here is my second favorite Calgary event, and it is “second” only by calendar date. Its impact on Calgary’s children is enormous, as it provides help for increasing literacy through proceeds raised by selling huge quantities of joy: reading books!
Calgary Reads is committed to working with parents, educators, corporate partners and the community at large to foster a joyful relationship with reading in all children in Calgary and beyond. Last year, through the generosity of Calgarians and their amazing volunteers, they received, sorted and sold over 100,000 gently used books and raised over $300,000 for Calgary Reads.
CBC Calgary Reads Big Book Sale
May 12th -14th, 2017
Friday, May 12 – 9 a.m. to 9 p.m
Saturday May 13 – 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Sunday, May 14 – 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Calgary Curling Club – 720 3 St NW
On Saturday evening from 6:00 to 8:30 local band, Midnight Blue, entertains shoppers with great jazz music. Join book lovers and take a turn on the dance floor, sip a glass of wine and shop for books!
I HOPE YOU CAN JOIN IN THE FUN
AND HELP CALGARY’S CHILDREN FIND THE JOY OF READING!
Here are Frequently Asked Questions from their website:
Is there an entrance fee? Yes. $2.00 for adults. Children under 16 are free of charge.
Do you take credit cards? Yes. Credit cards, debit and cash.
What types of books can I find at the Book Sale? All types! We sort the books into three main categories: Fiction, Non-Fiction and Children’s. We also have a Collectibles section. There are over 100,000 books ranging from Cooking to Classics, Health & Fitness to Horror, Tots and Teens to Transportation.
What is the price of the books? The majority of our adult books are $4.00 and children’s books are $2.00. Books that are current or just a year old are $6.00 and there are some more expensive, individually priced books.
Where can I park during the sale? There is limited parking at the Calgary Curling Club, some 2-hour street parking west of the Calgary Curling Club in the Community of Sunnyside and there is parking at the City of Calgary parking lot #59 at 200 Memorial Drive N.W. just east of the Curling Club (with a convenient pathway connecting the two). The City of Calgary lot is a pay lot and costs $.50 per hour with a maximum stay of 3 hours. On Saturdays, the maximum fee is $2.00.
What is the Big Book Sale? It is the biggest sale of gently used books in Calgary and the biggest recycle/reuse event in the city! In 2016 through the generosity of Calgarians and 5000 hours of work by our amazing volunteers, over 100,000 books were sorted and sold, earning over $300,000.
Who receives the proceeds of the sale? The proceeds go to Calgary Reads to support our literacy programs. Calgary Reads is a Calgary-based non-profit organization that was incorporated in 2001 as an early-literacy initiative. Today, we are a multifaceted reading movement focused on childhood literacy in Calgary and throughout Alberta.
Are all of the books used and sold or are they thrown out? We are grateful for the books we receive and we pride ourselves on offering high quality used books at a fair price to Calgarians during our sale. Some of the books we receive are not up to the standard we set for our sale. We are fortunate to have Progressive Waste as a corporate partner. They supply recycling bins to the Book Sale and pick up the bins periodically throughout the event. Books not used for the sale are recycled, not sent to the landfill.
What happens to the books left over after the sale? We invite over 50 community partners and Little Free Library stewards to our “Unsold” event, which is held after the Book Sale. These groups are welcome to take as many books as they like at no charge. So, as well as funding our literacy programs, we are able to provide books to agencies that also provide literacy opportunities in Calgary.
Yay! It’s that time of year: spring, when the severe cold goes away and two of my favorite events of the whole year happen. Two huge book sales are held, both of which offer participants the opportunity to support worthwhile causes.
Servants Anonymous Society of Calgary
SAS of Calgary is having its 15th Anniversary Book Drive and Sale on May 5-7 and May 12-14, 2017, at the Outpost Tent at Crossroads Market. You can donate books up to May 1st.
From April 10 to May 1, from 10 AM to 5 PM, you can donate books at the Outpost Tent at Crossroads Market, 1235 26 Ave SE, Calgary (at the Junction of Blackfoot Trail and Ogden Road SE).
Best sale for vintage books!
From my perspective, this is the better of the two sales to find vintage book treasures! They have loads of them in a special spot in the back right corner, and Dave and the other volunteers are there to help. Here are some of the vintage gems I found in previous years at the SAS Crossroads Market sale. (My posts for them are here and here.)
Here is a map of where Crossroads Market is, just southeast of downtown Calgary:
The proceeds from this book sale help SAS provide great supports for vulnerable women and their children. Visit their website to find more information about their compassionate work, programs and impact on at-risk women.
For more information about the sale, email Servants Anonymous at firstname.lastname@example.org
MORE INFO TO COME SOON
about the CBC Calgary READS sale May 12-14!
I’ve just realized how much time I spend looking for good, upbeat, contemporary fiction.
My friend said she doesn’t want to read depressing books and did I have any to recommend, so I browsed my yearly lists of books read for happy fiction. I was surprised at how many serious titles were on there and how few cheery.
Pilcher and Heyer
I am always game to check out older books, as you know, and I find most fiction between about 1950 and 2000–women’s fiction, romance, mainstream–usually cheerful and positive enough to enjoy. Rosamunde Pilcher, a U.K. author of women’s fiction, and Georgette Heyer, who wrote humorous Victorian romances, are two authors that never let me down.
I think I’ve read every one of Pilcher’s books, except some of her volumes of short stories. The first one I read was Under Gemini, and I was hooked with the location and the warm, intricate treatment of characters’ relationships. The Shell Seekers and September are my favorites, and they are nice and long. Click here to read my review of Winter Solstice.
I do like to keep in touch with the new books, too. There are so many books to choose from, where do you begin? It can be overwhelming. I browse the categories on GoodReads and Amazon. But I like to hold a book and flip through it, so I browse bookstores and sometimes take snap shots of shelves with my cell phone, then try to find them at the library (it amazes me how many new books are in the library system!). The library, too, has its “New and Notable” shelves and racks of recommended reading, so I check out a lot of those.
Sometimes the new books I read are considered “important”. I certainly want to expand my mind and experience the lives and cultures of many of the contemporary authors. HOWEVER. What is with all the dark, negative fiction these days? Books or movies, I don’t know what has made it so popular, but it’s not popular with me.
I can get an important impression or message from a book without reeling at all the explicit details and closing the book feeling like I’ve gone through the wringer. I do wish authors would go back to being more subtle!
Contemporary books that bring a smile
When I want to clear my head, to do a re-set, I look for something intelligent, sunny, optimistic, and relaxing to read. But finding that is a challenge. I do a lot of searching shelves and online for good humorous fiction. Here are some of the fiction books I’ve read lately that have brought a smile, and provided an enjoyable, relaxed read.
Falling for June by Ryan Winfield
Calling Invisible Women by Jeanne Ray
Fanny Bower Puts herself out There by Julia Ariss (ebook)
Lunatics by Dave Barry and Alan Zweibel
Harriet Beamer Takes the Bus by Joyce Magnin
The Rosie Project and The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion
Sassy Cinderella and the Valiant Vigilante by Sharon Dunn
What a Girl Wants by Kristin Billerbeck
The Promise of Jenny Jones by Maggie Osborne
While browsing my library’s humor and other sections, I ran across plenty of funny non-fiction. Here are some that I thoroughly enjoyed.
You Can Date Boys When You’re Forty by Dave Barry
I Remember Nothing by Norah Ephron
Reasons My Kid is Crying by Greg Pembrooke
Around the World in 80 Dates by Jennifer Cox
Surely you’re Joking, Mr. Feynman by Richard Feynman (Nobel prize-winning physicist)
Contemporary books that are uplifting
And here are some more books on my recent Books Read lists that are not necessarily humorous, but are uplifting, intelligent and calming. All are fascinating accounts or stories of neighbors, family, goodness, kindness, and life-changes, without the cringe-factor.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
Until the Harvest by Sarah Loudin Thomas (here’s my review–the author left a comment!)
Suncatchers and By the Light of a Thousand Stars by Jamie Langston Turner
Dewey: the Small Town Library Cat who Touched the World by Vicki Myron
Poems for a Good and Happy Life compiled by Myrna Reid Grant
What have you found?
Most importantly, if you’ve FOUND good upbeat contemporary fiction or non-fiction, PLEASE do share! I am sure that many people will appreciate it!
Photo credits: Pixabay and unsplash at Pexel.com