Posts filed under ‘books’

Write Canada 2016

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Linda Hall, Indie publishing

Next week is Write Canada in Toronto. The committee has been working for months to get it organized and the registrar’s been busy too.

Instead of the intensive like last year, I’ll offering a two-part workshop on writing Creative Nonfiction and another on what you can do Before the Editor Steps In (not the one on your shoulder that taunts you about your writing, but the one who helps get your work ready for publication).

As far as I know registration is still open. Sign up for Professional Day, Saturday, or the whole conference, here.

Looking forward to it and hope you can join us.

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Steve Bell performing at the 2015 Awards gala

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Fern and Ruth share a table at one of the workshop sessions

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NJ Lindquist, ready for gala

CN Intensive Class with CW and SBN

Members of the Creative Nonfiction Intensive group last year with my co-leader, Stephanie (left)

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Sharing photos at gala, l. to r.: Donna Mann, me and Sara Davison

 

 

photos by C. Wilker and others at 2015 conference

June 17, 2016 at 12:36 pm Leave a comment

Why hospice is a good thing

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VON Sakura House Hospice

Sakura (‘SAH-ku-ra’ or ‘sah-KUH-ra’), the Japanese word for cherry blossom…The cherry blossom reminds us of the fragility and impermanence of life and seemed the perfect symbol for our hospice.

It’s just two weeks, as I write this, that we said our goodbyes to our father. Still emotional, but so very grateful to have had our father for 90 years, a kind and  gentle man who both protected us and loved us. Who made time for us in his chosen life as a farmer. Together, he and our mother took good care of us.

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We are also grateful to the   doctors, nursing staff and volunteers for the wonderful care Dad (Harold) received in his time there. And to them, this blog post is dedicated.

Early in Dad’s stay, when the snow was mostly gone—making travel back and forth much easier—I resolved that I would eventually promote the facility on my blog, and so I took photos of the place.

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Dining area where we could sit awhile, eat and just have tea, coffee and a conversation, if we wished. We also had a game of Mexican Train one afternoon while Dad slept.

 

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My niece with Lois, a regular volunteer, whom we came to know, next to the kitchen area. We could often smell the wonderful aromas down the halls emanating from fresh baking. There were usually fresh cookies and sometimes tarts too.

 

As the weeks went on, we saw the blossoms come out on the trees around the building, the birds that stopped at the feeders, and Dad was able to look out from his bed and see the outdoors. When nursing staff wheeled his bed to the sunroom, he could look out over the fields and see signs of spring and people on tractors getting the soil ready for crops as he had done for so many years himself.

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The sunroom where patients could be wheeled for a change of scenery

 

From his bed in his own room, Dad could turn on the large screen television and keep in touch with what was going on in the outside world, including the US primaries where we joked about a certain candidate who will not be named here. We also played and replayed family slide shows and videos, including from a family wedding, and one evening we used Skype to connect with Mom and Dad’s friends and family members in Kapuskasing, Ontario.

 

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One of the lounge areas for families to sit and take a break

We had much time for conversation, allowing our patient to rest when his eyes became heavy. We even had a jigsaw puzzle set up for awhile in his room, knowing there was another one set up in the common area for anyone to work on. And we did that too.

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Coffee and tea ready where we could help ourselves, and offer a donation for it

 

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Room with a view and a  baby grand piano that I played sometimes. A bell choir rehearsed here and a fellow who had played for a musical group for years came to play the piano.

 

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An entertainment room to watch a movie, or nap, and toys for small children to play with. Small children were welcome there and our three grandchildren were among them.

We spent many hours in the hospice, visiting and later sitting with Dad when he slept more than he was awake. It was comforting to know that such wonderful caring people worked and volunteered around him—including staff who were well fitted to this kind of nursing who treated patients with dignity and respect. One of the nursing staff called my father “Dude” in a most kind way. They made room for us too and answered our questions when we had them.

 

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In that place there’s also a library, filled with many books for pleasurable reading and resource material on grief. [And for those who wish to have help with getting through grief, the volunteers can help  you connect with a group. They are also trained.]

 

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On those shelves, alongside Chicken Soup for the Soul books and others, is a copy of Hot Apple Cider with Cinnamon, by Canadian authors (ed, NJ Lindquist). The theme is “Finding Love in Unexpected Places.” I was privileged to have a story published in that book.

I felt this was a perfect place for such short stories, because we did find love and caring there. I hope that readers will find hope within those pages as well as in that place, even at the end of a loved one’s life. It may be that a person will read stories of hope to patients, or that it may be of  comfort to family members who sit at the bedside of a father, mother, wife or grandparent.

Thus I say thank you to doctors, nursing staff and all the volunteers who made our time there with Dad such a blessing. If Dad could say thank you now, I know that he would do it. Thank you also to  nursing staff who came to Dad`s visitation to say a more formal good-bye. You know who you are.

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photos © C. Wilker

 

 

May 26, 2016 at 4:24 pm 2 comments

Dreaming of spring but living in the now

We can well dream of the season ahead when plant life begins to poke its head above the soil and the sun warms them and helps them grow, yet we must live in the now and not in dreamland. For as Janice L Dick says in her post today, then we have material to write about. She wrote:

“No matter who we are, we will experience uneven roads on our respective journeys. Writing is living out our thoughts, dreams, fears..

 

 

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some of the gaillardia from my garden last year

 

Canadian Networker Fall Business Expo photo courtesy of KW Snap 2015

March 1, 2016 at 1:10 pm Leave a comment

Turning us upside down

Gayleen and Frank, 25th anniversary - Copy

Two years ago today, we were preparing to attend the funeral of my childhood friend, Gayleen. Since then, I’ve endured the loss of friends— Kathy, Susan and Pat— this year, and others, and of course, Samantha, who died much too soon at the age of 16 years old. Today I dedicate this blog post to anyone who has lost a family member or friend in the past year, because I know I am not alone.

Turning me upside down

“It’s only when we truly know and understand that we have a limited time on earth — and that we have no way of knowing when our time is up — that we will begin to live each day to the fullest, as if it was the only one we had.”
― Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

Life is a strange thing. Just when we think we’ve got things sorted out and life is ‘humming along,’ there comes a change. A boss says, “We don’t need you anymore” or a change in economic times makes us reconsider our spending, and even where we live. Along with that sorting and packing up of our belongings come feelings of bewilderment and sometimes anger and a lot of sadness.

Big events change things and force us to make new decisions that we might not have made otherwise, such as when a tornado turned the barn on our family farm into a shambles of wood and cement and broken beams. We were fortunate that no one was in the barn at the time and that the animals were in the field that August day when the storm passed through. It was clear that the barn had to come down afterwards for safety reasons, but my parents had to decide what to do next for their farming operations.

There was no death on account of the tornado, but there was some trauma for the house got a good shaking too. Everything my parents had worked for had changed. If there were any blessings, it was the way people in the community worked together to help out those affected by the storm.

Grief, as a part of life, is even stranger. We get settled into a lifestyle, while knowing we won’t have forever, but someone close to us dies and it sets everything we know on end. Time is marked ‘before’ and ‘after’ the event. Before the tornado, before the cancer diagnosis, before the accident… and after.

When friends offer their condolences or bring a meal for a family upended without their beloved, those are difficult times, but healing begins with those comforting hugs and help.

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, author of On Death and Dying, named the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. What was once was believed to be an orderly pattern, people soon learned that there’s a back and forth, not necessarily in that order. Still it’s helpful to know what feelings are part of the terrain.

I don’t pretend to know how it feels to experience the death of a child or spouse, but I do know it in relation to the death of a good friend or close relative outside my single family unit. There’s an empty place where that person once was, and even when we know the person has believed in God, and whom we presume to have gone to their heavenly home, there’s the ache that’s left—an emptiness.

In a conversation with a fellow church member this past year after yet another death of a friend, I said, “We’re never ready.” She was quick to agree and cited two examples from that very week, one of them being Samantha, who at 16 had already shown much promise.

We cry ‘too soon’ or ‘it’s not fair.’ We may plead and bargain, but this is our new reality and our life is thrown out of its routine by something so large that’s beyond us.

Society, at least in North America for the most part, would have us rush back into living, to try to forget our trauma, to keep busy and move on. While there is a comfort to routine, even that has been upset, whether in job loss, tornado’s destruction or the death of someone close. The grief moves with us. Ross says:

“The reality is that you will grieve forever. You will not ‘get over’ the loss of a loved one; you will learn to live with it. You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again but you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same nor would you want to.”

Christians believe that the person, loved by God and accepted as his child, will go to that perfect home where there are no more tears and where Jesus wipes away those tears. Hard as it is to go on without the beloved, we believe that Jesus walks with us through that grief and that if we’re crying, it’s quite likely he sheds tears with us as he did for his friend Lazarus.

This may not be overly theological, but I’d like to think of Jesus as having one very large handkerchief that he uses to wipe away our tears, as well as a big warm hug to help us along the way. He`s gone to prepare a place for us, a place where there will be no more tears.

The ‘hanky,’ as my grandmother would have called it, may very well belong to a friend and the hug from those around us, in his stead. And I might ask, as I did in this part of a poem I wrote this fall for another storyteller whose grandson died in October:

 

“Is that handkerchief big enough

for our tears too?

for Mom’s, Dad’s, Grandma’s and Grandpa’s

my tears

and those of all our friends?”
May you be comforted this day by someone’s love and not be afraid to call on God for his love and peace as you grieve.

 

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a bouquet for you today

January 31, 2016 at 4:13 pm Leave a comment

Memoir Writing Opportunity

Do you know of a senior, who lives in Kitchener, who maybe doesn`t get out much but who would like to begin to share their stories. Everyone has a story.

I`m pleased to have been offered the time to present my workshop.

Senior Connections Jan 11

http://www.carolynwilker.ca

Canadian Networker Fall Business Expo

December 30, 2015 at 4:05 pm Leave a comment

From my writer’s notebook

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It hasn’t always been my practice to carry a notebook, but since I’ve begun to write, I make sure that I take along a small notebook or a few pieces of paper, and at least one good pen to write with. I try to practise what I tell my students to do, to gather fodder for story or poem, inspiration for some day when the well seems to have run dry.

There’s a notebook, quite often coil bound, at my bedside table for the late or middle of the night inspirations, a notebook in my car, a notebook in my purse, albeit a tiny one. And pens—well many pens around me—but not always many in my purse.

After my office was painted and I was putting it back in working order, I found one such book. Here’s an undated entry from a notebook that bears the dates 2005, 2004 on other pages:

“We are like grass withered and brown; our bodies perish, our souls flee. Surely there is some trace, some remembrance of our time here when eternity comes.”

What triggered this entry, I wonder? Was it someone’s death? Was it before my book?

Another jotting that sounds like the making of a poem: “Earth’s morning jolted from a dreamless sleep, seamless as the evening sky.”

Poetic, and again no date or reason for writing it. Where was I? What was I doing? Maybe it doesn’t matter when or where, only that it’s there.

One, dated April 7, 2005, about my relationship with God:

I, sinful and weak

break my word to you time after time

year after year

but you have not turned me away

have not given up on me

 

Who would give me so many chances…

 

Indeed, who else?

 

Some of these entries are jottings during our pastor’s sermon. Words, phrases that I want to remember, in a notebook, other times on the back of the service bulletin. I quickly scribble down the line so I can write about it later—Sorry, Pastor, I’m still listening, sort of. My mind is taking a rabbit trail from your sermon; you’ve triggered an idea. Always a writer’s mind here, you see.

Even now, I have three pens laying on the desk, even while my fingers work on the keyboard. I often use pens for a first draft. My fingers can more easily keep up with a flow of words when they come to me than typing on a keyboard. When I type, I keep correcting my writing.

If L. M. Montgomery could keep up to her story while using pen, then it’s still a good thing, and I have the best of both worlds when I can use the computer for revision.

Another jotting and I know where it came from:

Dimpled hands reach

arms wrap around me

something to hold on to

grabbing hold of hair  ears

whatever can be clasped by those tiny fingers

wet kisses on my cheek

I return the hug gladly

 

 

Not polished, nevertheless, something I want to remember.

I’ll keep on carrying notebook and pens, because I never know what gem I may discover. Writing comes from living a life, not only from sitting behind a desk, typing.

 

What treasures do your notebooks hold?

December 5, 2015 at 12:43 pm 2 comments

Back to holidays–Lang Pioneer Village

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This year when we toured Lang Pioneer Village, we were there with our daughter and her two young children. Seen and experienced from an almost-4 to a nearly-6 year-old’s perspective, we would understandably travel through the village at a different pace than we did a year ago.

We started our tour with the animal pen next to the Milburn House, where pigs were snuffling in their pen and coming to see who was looking in at them.

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Next we went to the Hastie Carpenter Shop where the volunteer said they made things of wood, and especially wheels for the buggies and wagons. Then the tinsmith shop to see what was there.

 

Outside of the Fife cabin (shown above) was  a guide using a single spindle to get her yarn ready for knitting. A fire was going in the pit nearby where she would cook her meal or dye her yarn. We looked inside the cabin. It was quite dark compared to other buildings. The bed was a box on the floor with blankets in it and a fireplace at the end for warmth and cooking. The girls were interested to see how things looked there.
We crossed the road to the Fitzpatrick House where the guide told us about the family gathering in the main room. They would eat there and sit around the table for it was the only heated space in the house. We trudged up the narrow winding steps,  holding on to the handrail, to the upstairs to see where the family slept. Here they had beds and a quilt rack was set against a wall showing a project the mother might be working on. The beds were much different than the girls were used to and I wondered what they were thinking about it.

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See the dried herbs hanging above the fireplace. Those were often the medicines that the parents used to treat illness because the doctor lived a long distance away.

 

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On to the Register where the two young men told us about what they do. They showed us how they printed things, including newspaper, for the businesses in the village. It took a lot longer than with our computers and fast printing presses.

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It would take a long time to produce a newspaper with these pieces of equipment

 

We stopped at the Keene Hotel where a guide told us a little bit about the family who lived there and provided meals and a bed for travellers. We took our own tour of the building, but I did get to say hello to Sophie who gave us our tour last year and served tea and cookies. I thought we might come back for tea and cookies this time, but we didn’t.

 

On to the Menie General Store. It’s a bit like our stores that sell all kinds of things under one roof.

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The girls were interested in the toys on the counter and the little books.

 

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Here’s their Papa talking to one of the guides in the store.

 

DSCF9103Ana thought the lady’s blouse was pretty. Or was it the necklace and the hat she was commenting on? Anyway, there were many pretty things there for a lady or little girl at the time.

 

DSCF9105People gathered outside the Fitzpatrick  house, and we stopped along the way to see what was happening. There was a young woman doing laundry. She invited the girls to give it a try on the washboard. Ana wanted to try it so the guide helped her push up her sleeves so they wouldn’t get wet, and then showed her how to put the soap on the board first…

DSCF9107and then get both hands working on scrubbing a piece of clothing so it would be nice and clean. Different than Mommy and Daddy’s washing machine.

On our way to the car for our picnic lunch they stopped off to see the pigs again and then the Centennial commemoration rock out front.

 

I was impressed with how the guides geared their talks to include our youngsters. Thank you, all.

 

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Off to get our picnic lunch. Taking a break until tomorrow when we’ll continue our tour of the village

August 5, 2015 at 4:29 pm Leave a comment

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