Friday, July 31, 2009

Just Around The Corner

I love spoofs of the style of those mini-media messages from an era long past.

This one, in particular, supports the "buy local" and "buy independent" movement and has made the rounds a few times, but is certainly worth repeating. Hilarious. Yet there's a great message in there, too.

Support your local businesses -- not just bookstores, but locally owned businesses. Supporting local economies is good.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

HNT - Escape From San Francisco

Last week on my HNT post I mentioned my trip to San Francisco and meeting fellow blogger (who I met through the social circles of HNT), Marcel Nunis. While meeting Marcel was a definite highlight of my week spent in San Francisco, I thought I'd share a few other cool sights I made while in the city.

An "out-take" shot of Marcel and I at a Jazz cafe that I took. Whoops.

One of the first things I remember being eager to want to see was Alcatraz. Given that you needed to book many days in advance and it was high tourist season, I didn't make it on a tour. But I did the next best thing - I was able to take a boat tour that pretty much circled Alcaztraz Island.

Alcatraz as seen from Fisherman's Wharf

Alcatraz from the bay cruise - headset providing history/details

The same boat tour went out San Francisco bay and under the Golden Gate Bridge. (Man was the water ever choppy and the wind ever intense as the boat moved towards the bridge)

Golden Gate Bridge as bay cruise boat approaches - notice the wind in my hair?

Golden Gate Bridge seen from below - yes, that's my thumb

I got to enjoy the many dining experiences (which included lots of sourdough bread and seafood options) at the wonderful Fisherman's Wharf.

Outside Fisherman's Grotto No 9 at Fisherman's Wharf

Speaking of sourdough, we spent one evening at a group organized event dining at Bistro Boudin located at the Fisherma's Wharf. That was pretty cool.

Of course, no trip to San Francisco would be complete without checking out the Cable Cars.

A POV pic I took while standing on the side of a cable car

A shot from inside a packed cable car. You can see my buddy Lauri easily in this shot.
But can you find my buddy Randy?

I was delighted to be able to check out City Lights Bookstore while there. This was a fun experience. I got to overhear wonderful philosophical discussions from customers while browsing through the store, which reminded me of the importance of bookstores as being meeting places for minds, a cultural and social experience, a place where ideas can be shared and absorbed. City Lights is the perfect place for that.

I was amused to find out they didn't have a business section and didn't carry or even have Chris Anderson's The Long Tail listed in their system. (I'd just finished reading Anderson's new book Free: The Future of a Radical Price on the plane trip to San Francisco loved it. And though have talked on numerous occasions over the years about the concepts from his book The Long Tail for a long time, I hadn't read it and so wanted to pick it up while in town)

City Lights bookstore in San Francisco

A sign inside City Lights in the basement area of this massive and incredible bookstore

No trip that I ever take would be complete without an opportunity to sample locally brewed beer. I tried out as many different brands of beer from local area brewers while in San Francisco -- the most popular of them being Anchor Steam beer.

Anchor Steam beer. One of many I enjoyed while in the city.

And just in case people reading this think that San Francisco was all fun and games, I did do a lot of serious work while there -- (though I didn't bother to take pictures during the many workshops and seminars and sessions I attended)

But during one of them I was amused enough to snap this shot of Lauri and Randy sitting in the floor at the back of the room and charging up their laptops at one of the few plugs in one of the meeting rooms during the Ratex User Group sessions. Wifi in the meeting rooms was included -- but power sources were quite scarce.

Lauri and Randy charging up in the back of the room during one of the Ratex work-group sessions.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Feeding The Coyotes

Yesterday evening, on a trip to Canadian Tire, Alexander was explaining to me about some news items he'd heard on the radio earlier in the day. As we were heading back to the truck, he suggested that we go to the adjacent grocery store to pick up food for the coyotes, because they were hungry.

I said, "Alexander, they were talking about a hockey team called the Coyotes coming to Hamilton. They're in Phoenix right now, but they might be coming to Hamilton" (As of right now, I believe that today is yet another one of the multiple deadlines in the ongoing story of Jim Balsille's bid to bring the team to Hamilton).

"No, Dad!" he insisted. "The coyotes are coming back and we need to make sure there's food for them this time."

And here's the beauty of how a five year old absorbs multiple unrelated news items.

In the late winter and early spring, Hamilton had a bit of a coyote problem with hungry coyotes crawling through certain neighbourhoods searching for food. It lasted at least a few weeks and was a regular news item.

Alexander, of course, remembered that the wild coyotes had been hungry and when hearing news yesterday that they might be coming to Hamilton (as in the Phoenix hockey team), was concerned that there be food for them.

Gotta love my son's interpretation of the news. In many ways it's more insightful and interesting than the regular stuff the media feeds to us.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Ah, To Be Twenty-Eleven Again

Last night Alexander was counting while in the washroom on the potty. I'm not sure what he was counting -- it could have been the bathroom tiles, it could have been the number of tin cans in the garbage landscape of the "Look and Find" Wall-E book he was reading in there.

Although he has counted to thirty before using the conventional number system we all know, last night when he got to twenty-nine, he then moved on to the numbers twenty-ten, twenty-eleven, twenty-twelve, twenty-thirteen and so on.

I thought it was really cute.

Ah, sweet memories. At first I thought it might be nice to be twenty-eleven again -- a time when forty (or twenty-twenty if I were to follow my son's newly invented counting system) was a good nine years away but seemed much longer than that.

But then I thought, no, the real wonder is to be that age like Alexander is at. Five years old and eagerly exploring virtually EVERYTHING about the world in such a creative and unique way that a number like twenty-eleven makes complete sense. Where the concept is an open and free-flowing thought, a unique application of a newly discovered skill, not something that is oppressed or held back by fear of failure or ridicule or not following the rules.

Ah, to be twenty-minus fifteen again. To be able to be open minded and actually exploring the world around you rather than judging it. To be receptive to new and creative ideas and stimuli and not immediate dismissing something foreign as negative or wrong.

It's not impossible. It just takes a bit of effort -- and paying attention to the examples offered to us daily by the wonderful brilliance, open-mindedness and creativity of children.

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Laugh Lies Down On Broadway

Last week while chatting with a friend in the book industry, she mentioned a novel that was the very first one in which she laughed out loud. Not a book that she found amusing, but rather a book that actually made her laugh. Out. Loud.

She said the first book that made her laugh out loud was Christopher Moore's Lamb.

She then posed the question. What was the first book that made you laugh out loud?

I had to think for a while on that one.

And, interestingly, I came up with three different authors. I actually started with the most recent novel that made me laugh out loud, then back-tracked to a series of novels that did it to me. Then, I finally landed on what I believe was the first novel that actually had that effect on me.

So, the first novel that came to my mind was the Terry Fallis novel The Best Laid Plans. This is likely because that was the last novel I read that made me laugh out loud. Fallis really had to win me over on this one, too, since the novel involves Canadian Politics, a subject area I'd always found rather dry and uninteresting. so, working against my prejudices, Fallis really landed a homer with me, because he not only made it interesting, but he had me cracking up throughout this wonderful book. But he didn't just rely on the laughs, because while he was making me snort and giggle, he was planting seeds for a deeper, touching story that resonated. And without me paying attention to it, I also learned something about our Canadian political system.

Prior to that, the first Linwood Barclay novel that I picked up, Bad Guys, had me giggling between moments of tension. And since Bad Guys was the second book in Barclay's humorous mysteries about Zack Walker, I went back to read Bad Move, the first book in the series, and ended up enjoying the final two books in the Zack Walker series, Lone Wolf and Stone Rain. Interestly enough, Barclay's original working title for the 3rd Zack Walker book was going to be "Bad Dogs" -- however, his editor convinced him he didn't "own" the word "Bad" and suggested he change the title for the third book. By the time the fourth book was released, Barclay not only proved his ability to pen a hilarious novel, but also demonstrated his proficiency for writing tight and thrilling mystery novels. (His next two novels, while not funnybone ticklers, were still fantastic thrillers)

Which takes me back to what I believe is the very first book that made me laugh out loud. That would have to be John Irving's A Prayer for Owen Meany. Like the novels I mentioned above, this wonderful book by Irving was the very first Irving book I read. It had been recommended to me by a fellow bookseller who told me it was by far the best novel he had ever read. High praise indeed. And once I cracked the cover and started reading, I knew what he meant, because it sits in my mind as one of the best and my favourites. Reading this novel was one of the first times I remember stopping repeatedly to re-read short passages to my wife (a commonality of each of the books I mention in this blog post) and one of the first times I can remember a novel having that "laugh out loud" effect on me. Interestingly, the humour in this one was mixed with a poignancy that I also cherished.

Interestingly enough, each of these authors has forthcoming books that I simply cannot wait to dig into. And not because I anticipate laughs in all cases. I'm eager to read their next novels because the authors simply never fail to move me in some significant way when I read their words.

So -- what was the first novel that you read that made YOU laugh out loud?

Friday, July 24, 2009

How Not To React

As a writer, one of the realities that you have to face is this: Rejection is a big part of the game. Not everything you send to an editor is going to be accepted and bought. More often than not, it'll be rejected.

You need to face that, take it graciously -- not take it personally, and move on.

Here's an example of someone NOT facing disappointment graciously.

If you find yourself reacting like this to rejection, perhaps you shouldn't be in the writing game. Not unless you're interested in having a stroke.

And one last note, no matter how frustrated or disappointed I have ever been when something didn't go my way, I'm proud to say that unlike the guy in this video, not once have I ever been so upset that I tried to shove a remote control up my ass. (There's some sort of ode to George Carlin in that sentiment, isn't there?)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

HNT - I Left This Post In San Francisco

I spent almost a whole week at a pair of back to back conferences in San Francisco. The Collegiate Retail Alliance and Ratex Users Group typically meet in one after the other sessions in a different North American city during the month of July. This time it was hosted by SFSU bookstore.

In the usual lyrical farting around that I do with my status on Facebook (this time injecting multiple musical references to San Francisco and California in my updates) , fellow blogger and scribe Marcel Nunis noted that I was in his vicinity. San Francisco being relatively close to his regular stomping grounds. After a couple of emails and phone calls, we arranged to meet up.

We started our evening with a quick walk up Powell street from the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) station where we met. Marcel pointed out various interesting establishments along the way, taking special care to note anything of literary significance (though we'd never met in person before, he certainly knew how much of a book nerd I am) -- One of the interesting joys of befriending someone via the blogging community is that you DO really get a decent sense of what a person is like through their blog posts and writing.

Interestingly, one of the many things we talked about was whether or not a blogger is being themselves in their blog posts or projecting a particular persona. Marcel, of course, has met up with several different folks that I still only know through the blogiverse. While I did befriend RainyPete, a fellow Hamiltonian and real cool dude I met through blogging, Marcel was the first blogger from afar that I had the privilege to meet in person.

Having met Marcel and spent several hours and many many drinks talking about a variety of fun topics, I can say that the fascinating, creative person you see on his blog is pretty true to form. Marcel has an endless array of interesting stories, viewpoints and experiences to share -- if it hadn't been a Sunday night when we'd met, we would have likely sat there shooting the shit for several more hours (despite me being extremely tired and still trying to adjust to being 3 hours behind. Midnight San Francisco time is like 3 AM for me)

One of our first stops was at John's Grill on Ellis Street, an establishment that novelist Dashiell Hammett used to hang out at. We had a fantastic dinner there before moving around to a few different bars. We ended up closing the evening down sitting on the sidewalk tables of a jazz bar -- with the band jamming and enjoying their creative fun, Marcel and I talked and played a couple of different "crowd" watching games with the various different people moving down the street.

What a fascinating and delightful experience to finally get to meet someone that I originally met through the weekly HNT blog posting ritual (so thanks for that, Os). I have to note here that it was one of Marcel's inspiration and creative "noir" story HNT posts that first inspired me to do something a bit more than just post a picture on Thursdays -- he was the inspiration behind actually attempting to do something different and creative (which led to me trying out the various different continuing HNT storylines I have tried over the years -- and YES, Susie, I know, I know, we're still trapped in toyland and that story hasn't been resolved . . . I'll get back to working on it)

And, having spent an evening chatting with Marcel over drinks and sharing tales and talking about writing and movies and theatre (and dozens of other topics), I returned more fully charged and inspired.

So, thanks Marcel. I'm looking forward to seeing you again in person in either of our travel adventures.

(Incidentally, it looks like Marcel also posted an HNT this week and he talks about our fun evening. I love these cross-over posts.)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

40 Years After

Given how July 20, 1969 was such a significant date in history, with the Apollo 11 landing on the moon and the moon walk, I thought I'd take a moment on my blog to share my fond memories from that day.

I remember being absolutely fascinated with these really cool things I discovered on the ends of my feet.

They were stubby little things that sometimes wiggled -- try as I might I couldn't easily reach them, but trying was a lot of fun. I spent an endless amount of time staring at them and reaching for them.

Of course, I didn't yet understand that they were my toes, but they were one of the most fascinating things I'd encountered by that point.

Oh yes, and somewhere in the background there was a box with light and sound coming from it. I didn't yet understand what a television was nor did I understand the significant historical images flashing on it showing footage of humans first walking on the moon.

Hey, what can I say?

I was only 2 months old.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

HNT - Window Reflection

Last weekend, after Alexander's birthday party at Zoom Zoom's, we headed out to my brother in law Mike's cottage on Lake Erie (I keep wanting to spell it Lake Eerie)

This is a shot I took with my Palm Treo standing on Mike's back deck and facing the large back windows overlooking the lake. I'm reflected in the window as is the gorgeous backdrop of the lake. Mike can be seen inside, grabbing another beverage from his beer fridge.

Good times.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Waking Up Naked in Canada

My short story "Less of a Man" appears in Issue 07 of Necrotic Tissue - the July 2009 issue is the latest (and first print issue) of "The Horror Writer's Magazine" as it is dubbed by the editors.

There is a cute disclaimer printed on the "masthead/copyright" page.
Warning! This magazine is chock-full of adult content and things that some would classify as twisted. It's intended for people who are old enough to vote or at least be able to fake it and not for young impressionable minds.

Side effects may include, but are not limited to, disorientation, sleepless nights and a condition known as sausage fingers. Some readers have woken up naked in Canada with no memory of how they got there.

I regularly wake up naked in Canada with no idea how I got here. But that's beside the point. This hilarious little note that the editors likely expect few people to read is one of the reasons why I've been enjoying reading this little magazine since it first came out.

This quarterly magazine is fun, twisted and not at all pretentious. The editors seek to put out a compilation of truly interesting and bizarre horror stories, and they've done a good job. And I'm delighted to be a part of this first print issue, which is available now. (You can download their first six issues for free right here.)

My story, "Less of a Man" appears on page 35 of Issue 7. It's the first "zombie" story that I ever had published and one of the first zombie stories I have written -- or at least, I think it's a zombie story, because when you read it, I never really come out and say that there is a zombie in it, but it is what I was thinking.

I was really just trying to explore the idea of a son wanting so badly to just have his father back that he would overlook little imperfections such as the man being afflicted with being a zombie, just for the simple pleasure of spending some time with his father again. Not a new concept at all, but one I wanted to explore and think I did a pretty decent job of. (I can pat myself on the back because the story was, after all, accepted for publication)

Monday, July 13, 2009

Five Years Old

Oh boy. My son turned 5 last week.

Pretty scary.

He is maturing so quickly. At the rate he's growing, I know that he'll be taller than me soon enough. But pretty soon he will out-mature me. (Of course, most of us know that won't be a hard thing to do)

The Wall-E theme for Alexander's party

We were out of town at a funeral during his actual birthday -- but we had planned a small "kids" party for him on the Saturday following his big day. We held it at Zoom Zoom's in Ancaster.

What a fantastic place, great staff and great hospitality. Zoom Zoom's offers drop-in options, party bookings and even private party bookings. There is a complimentary coffee bar for the adults (because the kids don't really need coffee to find energy), comfortable recliner chairs and free wireless internet access. (Some really nice touches to ensure that it's not just fun for the kids but also fun for the adults, too)

Some of the kids hanging out in the climbing structure

Pierre emerging from the yellow slide. Don't worry, he wasn't TOO scared.

Fran taking advantage of one of the reclining chairs - shot from near the top of climber

Alexander and his buddy in the rope maze

I can't say enough about how wonderful the owners and staff of Zoom Zoom's are. My neighbours had a party for their daughter there a few months ago, and when we asked Alexander what he wanted to do for his birthday, he said he wanted to go to the same place. I was delighted to hear it because I'd had just as much fun.

A mid-play snack - "Can we take the party hats off now please?"

After Alexander's party, we headed off to Selkirk to my brother in law's cottage where Alexander collected rocks on the beach, enjoyed the beautiful sunny weather, an incredible sudden thunderstorm, then a remarkable after-storm rainbow and sunset. All in the matter of about four hours. Talk about packing multiple experiences into a short-time frame.

Fran and Alexander collecting rocks

I took some video of the incredibly phenomenal cloud lightning that happened offshore a few hours after the storm had passed, but the pictures didn't turn out that well -- I suppose my Palm Treo wasn't designed to be optimal for taking video after dark of something about 5 miles away.

But sitting in the hot-tub with the only light coming from the campfire, the hot-tub lights and the gorgeous distant lightning-filled clouds over Lake Erie was the perfect way to end Alexander's birthday party day.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Remainder Article

I have an article appearing in the summer 2009 issue of Canadian Bookseller: The Magazine of Book Retailing. The article covers the how booksellers can use remainders to help boost their bottom line.

But more than that, I tried to explore some of the other benefits of remainders. As I'd mentioned a while back on this blog, while authors typically don't get a dime of royalties from remainder sales, there might be some other benefits that they could see from them being available, like reaching new readers.

Within the article, I covered how remainders have worked in the experiments I've had in my own bookstore, in terms of selection and placement. I also talk about the serendipity involved when customers discover new writers when checking out these lower priced books in bookstores, some bookseller's distaste over remainders as well as how to "blowout" the stock you've had for a few months without losing money.

The article is called RALLYING CRY OF THE REMAINDER: "I'm Not Dead Yet!" and is the perfect example of the pleasures of working with a great editor. When I first pitched the idea for the article to Canadian Bookseller editor Emily Sinkins, she was receptive and offered me some guidelines and suggestions that helped keep me focused on benefiting the booksellers who would be reading the article. And when I couldn't land on a proper title, but instead, kept bouncing various combinations of ideas I'd had for a title, she crafted the perfect fitting title for it based on my struggles to land on one (as well as a great visual presentation in terms of layout that Emily and Liz Machin developed for it)

Here's an excerpt from the article:
Over the years, I have come to see remainders as actually helping expand the life-cycle of a book as well as breathing new life into your bottom line. Look at it this way: A book is published, bought by a bookstore, merchandised on the shelves, and if it doesn't sell, is shipped back to the publisher for a credit. But the life-cycle doesn't need to end there. Instead of getting pulped, a remaindered book gets another chance to be discovered by readers. And it fits nicely into the green movement of reusing and recycling.

As I've mentioned before, editors add a huge value (often unseen or undetected by readers) to written works, and I've been fortunate enough to have worked with so many of them over the years. Emily is one of those editors who stays behind the curtain and toils quietly away, really making my writing shine. Kudos to Emily and all those editors out there making writer's words that much better.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

HNT - Pardon My Big Moose Head

I just finished reading a wonderful book that captures the story of the family-owned business that created and still runs Moosehead Breweries. It is called LAST CANADIAN BEER: The Moosehead Story, and is by Harvey Sawler.

Sawler has done a magnificent job of documenting the story and insights behind the company's beginnings, the many challenges it faced over its 142 year history, as well as taking a frank and candid look at how this small New Brunswick family business operates and succeeds despite the fact that all the other major Canadian owned breweries like Labatt, Molson and Sleeman have sold out to multi-national corporations.

I find it interesting at how these non-Canadian multi-nationals like Molson and Labatt continue to make expensive advertising campaigns focusing on their "Canadian-ness" when they have virtually abandoned Canada. Meanwhile, Moosehead continues to focus on the product, the processes and the thing that makes them truely unique, truly independent, and Truely Canadian, often while operating below the big radars of such campaigns. Simply put, they don't have the funds to support large ad campaigns like that -- they just keep on keeping on, and winning consumers over on a more personal level, similar to the way that Philip (P. W.) Oland made a habit of keeping in touch with his employees and customers in the early to mid 1900's.

I bought the book because I enjoy Moosehead Lager, love the fact that this beer company is still proudly Canadian and proudly independent and wanted to learn more about the company and its origins. After having learned more about this company and the family and staff behind it's six generations of operation, I'm even more adamant in my support of this proud, time-honoured underdog in the Canadian beer market.

I'd mentioned a little while ago on this blog how impressed I was to receive a birthday card from Moosehead. While the book doesn't go into detail giving examples of these small touches that make the company special and their customers feel special too, it does nicely cover how Oland leadership has continually put the people who work for and with Moosehead first, and how that makes a tremendous difference. There is a true dedicated work ethic and down-to-earth nature inherint in the Oland family and in the operation of Moosehead Breweries and I'm further honoured to invest my beer money with their company.

It's true that, as Sawler states: ". . . in today's culture, you become defined by what you wear, what you drive, where you hang out and what you drink." For that reason, I'm proud to define myself as a Moosehead drinker. And this past weekend at the Levack District High School 2009 reunion, I was delighted to have a giant cooler of iced filed with Moosehead Lager to serve to my friends. LDHS was defined as "Small But Powerful" and Moosehead can be seen in a very similar light. It was thus, a fitting beverage of choice.

Kudos to the Oland family and all the people behind Moosehead Breweries, kudos to Harvey Sawler for this compelling and fascinating read that tells their tale and kudos to Nimbus Publishing for producing this book.

In honour of Moosehead and Harvey's book, my HNT picture this week is of the moose head that I proudly wear.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

A Poem for Lynn

One of the sweetest, kindest and most courageous people I've ever known passed away on July 2nd.

My sister-in-law, Lynn Bigras, passed away at the young age of 42 after a long battle with cancer. Over the past ten years she and Don have done absolutely everything that could be done to win the battle, have taken every step you can imagine, and never gave up the fight despite the odds.

When I first met my brother Don about a decade ago, he and Lynn were already married and had been together for a long time. So in my mind, they had always been together. Of course, after getting to know them, one could easily see how perfect they were as a united team, how natural it was that they should be the couple they were.

Their love, which began in their teen years and continued to grow over the past three decades, has always been an inspiration. Their coming together and never giving up despite the insurmountable struggles that faced them will continue to inspire.

Services were held for Lynn yesterday in Sudbury.

In an attempt to eulogize Lynn and celebrate her life, I realized that words could never properly describe all that she meant to so many people, the overwhelming sense of loss we are left with and yet how blessed we all are to have had Lynn in our lives.

But I did my best in crafting a poem for Lynn, which I read at the funeral mass yesterday -- and if I even captured one tenth of all the things that Lynn meant to us, then I have succeeded.

Lynn's Bright Star

A new star shines bright in the northern sky tonight
It shines down from an ocean of darkness in the night sky
Casting the goodness of light, the warmth of Lynn's love
On the earth below

A star shines bright in the northern sky
It shines down upon a young girl
With the cutest little spatter of freckles across her nose,
A charming pair of pig-tails
Bright, beautiful eyes filled with a special mirth
And a smile that lights up the hearts of those
Fortunate enough to bask in its glory

A star shines bright in the northern sky
Casts its light across a snowy field that sparkles like diamonds
The field is divided by the path of two snow machines
Racing on yet another fun-filled adventure of discovery
Echoes of laughter ring through the valley
The laughter of a father, mother and two young girls
Enveloped in the special joy of togetherness and family

A star shines bright in the northern sky
Shines down upon two young souls walking home from school
They are friends, yes, but something deeper stirs in their hearts
Blossoms into the special joy and wonder of young love
As they reach out to hold hands, that simple gesture will
Signal the beginning of a truly unique lifetime of love
A love that will continue to grow richer & get stronger with each passing day and year
A love that will grow strength and multiply in the face of challenge
It is an endless love and dedication that all others will marvel at

A star shines bright in the northern sky
Shines down upon a teacher leaving her classroom after another tireless day
Of filling young minds with information
Of sparking moments of imagination
Of providing youthful inspiration
An often thankless job, but one which she embraces
One which gives her purpose and pleasure

A star shines bright in the northern sky
Its light shines down through a bedroom window
And onto a young mother and her baby boy who sit quietly together
He swaddled in blankets and cradled in her lap
Her voice singing him a soothing lullaby
As she rocks him gently to sleep
And as he falls asleep, his tiny hand clasps tightly to her little finger
A special mother/son bond that nothing will ever break

A star shines bright in the northern sky
Shines down upon a beautiful young woman who, in the midst of embracing life
Will be dealt an unfair deal
A hand that would cause others to give up
To throw in the cards and fold
But in spite of this deal, this cruel blow
She will hold the hands of those loved ones around her
Continue to embrace life, embrace love
Continue to laugh, wonder and marvel at the beauty
That each day can bring
Her courage, strength, sheer will and determination will inspire
And upon her face she will set that unforgettable smile
The smile that lights up rooms and hearts
And reminds you that you are special
Just for having known her love
Just for having been a part of her life

Tonight, a new star shines bright in the northern sky
It casts its light down upon a large group of people
With their heads bowed in sadness
Their lives are suddenly filled with an emptiness
That, before, they could barely even imagine the depths of

Tonight, a new star shines bright in the northern sky
It wasn't there the other night
It fills a previously empty pocket of space
Shines down upon the earth with an intensity
That lights up a corner of the sky
One by one, the forlorn group of people glance up to the star
They can't help but notice its bright light, its pure beauty
It shines down on them with a rich, full light
That reminds them of that special smile of a little girl, the daughter, the sister, the wife, the mother, that cherished friend
And in the light of that star their hearts are warmed
Filled with joy and memories of laughter and adventures and
Special moments of tenderness and sharing

Tonight, a new star shines bright in the northern sky
It shines down upon us all with a strength that reminds us
Of that special, courageous woman who embraced life
Embraced others with open arms and an open heart
Tonight, a new star shines bright in the northern sky
Its light fills our lives with hope and joy and warmth
And we bask in that special light, that special love
Because we know that this new star
Which shines so brightly down upon us
This new star, that fills the dark spot with light
Will always be there burning strong in our hearts
Will always be with us
Will always be casting Lynn's special light
And her special love upon our lives

- Mark Leslie Lefebvre

Lynn (nee Brunet) Bigras
March 2, 1967 - July 2, 2009

Thursday, July 02, 2009

HNT - Canada Day 1990

This week's HNT is a flash-back to July 1st, 1990.

Along with my best buddy's Steve and Pete and our friend Mary-Jane, we enjoyed a fun Canada Day celebration that included a concert at Lansdowne Stadium in Ottawa. Kim Mitchell was the featured performer that day and they were shooting footage for the video for I Am A Wild Party that day.
Here's my ticket from that day

This is Steve and I checking out the sights on Elgin Street shortly after the fireworks finished.
Parliament Hill is behind us and we're looking south down Elgin Street.
You can't see the crowds in the picture, but the street is mostly filled with
a mass of people walking down the middle of Elgin.
There's a cab to our right, but it can barely make it through the crowd.

Steve and I being goofy with the sleeves I'd cut off my t-shirt.
Don't ask me why - I thought it was cool. Can you tell we got some sun that day?

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Happy Canada Day 2009

It's a quiet morning. I'm puttering around doing some writing administration work, checking emails, etc. Weather calls for a mix of sun, clouds and rain. Yet again, I'm extremely thankful to live in this phenomenal country of Canada.

Damn, I'm lucky.

Speaking of Canadian, I'm delighted to read that John Mutford's 2nd Canadian Book Challenge (where he challenged bloggers to read 13 books by Canadian authors in a 12 month period and post reviews of them online) reached a total of 1118 books read. (Beating last year's 415 books by a long shot) -- Congrats to John and to all the other participants. I know I had a blast sharing the Canadian books I'd been reading and hopefully helping other readers discover Canadian writers they'd perhaps not heard of before.

I'm certainly looking forward to the 3rd Canadian Book Challenge and in honour of Canada Day have started reading LAST CANADIAN BEER: THE MOOSEHEAD STORY by Harvey Sawler (Nimbus Publishing) -- which is a look at the story of the Oland family's brewery, Canada's last oldest independent brewing company. (Born in 1867, they are celebrating the same birthday as Canada, BTW -- so along with a Happy Birthday Canada, I'd like to extend a Happy Birthday Moosehead)

I love discovering and purchasing independent and micro brewed beers from Canadian breweries -- running an independent bookstore, I take pride whenever I spend my own dollars on independent local businesses. They are part of what makes Canada unique and special, offering up choice, selection, uniqueness and the kind of independence that Canadians take pride in (if not only once per year on July 1st)

But back to John's Canadian Book Challenge. I was also delighted to learn I was one of the randomly selected winners and am getting a New Canadian Library Prize Pack from McClelland & Stewart. This is perfect since each year I do my best to try to read a few of the classics that I hadn't already enjoyed.

In any case, Happy Canada Day to all the Canucks out there reading this! We live in a truly spectacular country and should regularly count the blessings inherint in our free society, with the freedom to be creative and make personal decisions of where and how we live, the right to vote at all levels of municiple, provincial and federal government, affordable universal health care, a wonderfully multi-cultural society and a truly phenomenal geography as beautiful as it is diverse.

My name isn't Joe, but I'm proud to be Canadian.

[And unlike Joe, who abandoned his Canadian-ness in 2005 when Molson sold out to Coors (sorry, couldn't resist that little dig), I'm still proud to be Canadian.]