January 26th was Human Library Day

Check out a human book.

Oh my gosh, who could resist? Not me. Thank you Twitter for the heads up.

This past Saturday was my city’s first ever attempt at Human Library Day. It was hosted by the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) and libraries across the country.

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Real people. Real Conversations.

I love conversating. In person. With flesh and blood people. Who talk back. Where you can gauge how they’re feeling without needing emoticons. All you had to do was register, either online or in person the day of the event. Friendly volunteers in red t-shirts were there to greet you and help you out. The ‘human books’ were spread throughout the various floors of our downtown library, in nooks and crannies or small private rooms, perfect spots for some quiet and informative conversation.

Perfect for writers, information junkies, or anyone with questions to ask the interesting and varied group of people kind enough to share their lives and career choices with the list of books who had volunteered to sit and chat. Among them a Forensic Firearms and Toolmark Examiner, a STARS pilot, a STARS flight nurse, and a grassroots organizer. I saw the list of ‘books’ and was swamped with a flood of story ideas. It was like Christmas morning.

With stories of a terminal cancer diagnosis, the loss of a dream because of a violent domestic attack, people were there to share their stories, change perceptions, and tackle stereotypes. They were there to make a difference in their community. To share their experiences.

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”  spoken as Atticus Finch in Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird

I ‘checked out’ a divorce lawyer. (Let me assure everyone it was for research purposes only.) The hero in one of my work-in-progress is a Family Law Attorney. I had questions. Needed to know I was on the right path with his views and ideals. We also talked about what her day is like, how much time she spends in court, and the misconceptions she faces. We talked about the importance of mediation and collaborative law when dealing with “good people at their worst”. As opposed to being a criminal lawyer who deals with “bad people at their best”.

All that in fifteen minutes.

So, if you had the opportunity to ask anyone a few questions which ‘human book’ would you check out? I think I’d like to talk to a member of the Hell’s Angels. Can you even imagine? I’m never gonna be able to shut my brain off now.

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Hump Day Photo

“Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.” Winston Churchill

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I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this before but it’s winter here. I know, I know…we’re not supposed to harp on about the weather. Especially if you’re exercising freewill and you live here by choice. We’re supposed to be tough. And quiet about it.

So, a backyard fire it is. Even if it is January and there’s no possible way the fire can generate enough heat to keep you warm. Good thing you end up feeling better for having been out in the fresh air, for playing in the snow, and for making the effort to make this crazy-assed winter we’re having seem a little shorter.

See. Attitude. Mother Nature should take notice and work on hers.

Happy Hump Day!

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Tuesday’s Table: A Soup Recipe and a Snippet

021It’s winter out there and nothing goes better with winter than soup. Good thing I LOVE soup. Soup has been around, well…forever. Or at least since the invention of ceramic pots, so since about 5000 B.C. I imagine my long-ago sisters found it as handy to serve as I. It also gets points for being cheap and nutritious.

With the scent of curry in the air and a bowl of rich, golden soup in front of you, you need something to read while you enjoy it. Why not go to my Home Page, scroll down and download The Storytellers’ Bouquet. It includes four free short stories from myself, Jana Richards, Lesley-Anne McLeod, and Annette Bower. Four very different stories that will warm your heart while the soup warms your belly.

My favorite soup scene from a movie goes to the 1996 version of The Birdcage with Robin Williams and Nathan Lane. Armond and Albert are putting on a false straight front for their newly engaged son, Val. Dinner is a debacle and the Guatemalan peasant soup (minus the shrimp) ends up being served in bowls patterned with nude young men. Hilarity ensues. That has got to be one of my favorite movie dinner scenes of all time.

Check below for the first couple of paragraphs of Waiting For Mason. Now onto the soup!

Curry Butternut Squash Soup

  • 1 Butternut Squash, peeled, de-seeded, and cut into cubes
  • 1 Box of Vegetable Broth
  • 1 Can of Lite Coconut Milk
  • 2 Cans of Navy Beans (540 mL or 19 oz size)
  • 2 Stalks of Celery, Chopped
  • 2 Carrots, Chopped
  • 2 Cloves of Garlic, Pressed
  • 2 TBSP Curry Powder
  • 1/2 TBSP Garam Masala (or a mixture of Nutmeg, All Spice and/or Cinnamon)
  • 1 TBSP Salt
  • 1 TSP Black Pepper

024Combine everything in a large crockpot. Simmer on low for 4 hours. Stick-blend in crockpot until smooth.

Or

Toss everything in a large stock pot and simmer until vegetables are soft. You can also use a traditional blender to cream the ingredients.

Waiting for Mason – A Short Story

In the waning light Willa Harris surveyed her version of the prettiest spot on earth. With its shelter of wolf willows and cottonwoods, the tranquil calm of the lake, it soothed her battered heart. She struck a red-tipped match. Held the tiny flame to the bits of dry grass and twig she’d arranged in the middle of an irregular circle of stones. It whiffed out in a puff of wind.

The second match survived the odds and sparked at the broken bits of branch. She held her breath, delighted when it caught. She needed the heat. Tonight the many miles between the rustic Qu’Appelle Valley and her native Toronto were adding up to doubts. She tossed on a couple of smaller branches. Not about setting down roots here. Or Mason. The dry wood caught and she leaned in closer to catch the flare of heat. She reached for her backpack, the motion jarring her swollen ankle. Could she convince Mason she belonged here, too?

Okay, maybe she could use a crash course in backwoods smarts, on how to survive on ants and tree bark tea, that kind of thing. Hiking without falling victim to a sprained ankle. But she was trying. Hadn’t she’d trekked in alone to their special spot? Set things up? Okay, half set things up, but still it proved she was crazy about Mason Shaw, protector of the wild things. Didn’t it?

The darker the night sky and the brighter the moon, the more she felt like maybe Mason wasn’t coming. What if he hadn’t found her note? What if he didn’t show? What then? It’d be her and the howling coyotes. No. Mason would come looking for her. He was like that, straight up honourable in an old fashioned Camelot style that stretched way beyond appealing. She could count on Mason to do the right thing even when he’d rather not.

So, do you have a favorite soup? Want to share a book recommendation? Maybe you have a favorite soup scene from a movie or book? Today’s the day to share!

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My Hump Day Photo

“You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” -Eleanor Roosevelt

Ergo, I write.

DSC08184Or going snorkeling off a boat in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Okay, technically it wasn’t the middle, but the water was really, really deep. And generally I’m not a fan of scenarios that find me in deep water. But I gathered up my courage, geared up, and got off the boat. And into the water. I stuck my face in, spotted a fish, and got the hell back on the boat. The whole experience lasted a whole five minutes. But, hey, I did it.

Yay, me!

Happy Hump Day!

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