Opening Doors

Doors + quote

Good Speech

by Archibald Lampman

Think not, because thine inmost heart means well,
thou hast the freedom of rude speech:
sweet words
are like the voices of returning birds
filling the soul
with summer, or a bell
that calls the weary and the sick to prayer.
Even as thy thought,
so let thy speech be fair.

Archibald Lampman

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Amee’s Story: Non-Fiction

Last year I encouraged friend and fellow writer, Carol Harrison, to do her paperback book as an e-book. I promised if she’d publish Amee’s Story in e-book format I’d do a review of the book on my blog. She’s done that; it came out in October. So you can buy it in paperback from her or e-book from Kobo. Here’s the link. And here’s my review.

AMEE’S STORY
by Carol Harrison

“What’s happening? Why isn’t she crying?” my husband whispered.

Minutes ticked by as the couple watched the medical team working on their newborn baby girl. Almost seven minutes passed before they heard a tiny sound from the baby. The nurse immediately scooped her up and rushed her out the door.

“What’s wrong? Why won’t they let me hold my baby?” I asked my doctor.

He explained that the baby had inhaled some of the fluid from her sac of wastes (meconium) as she was being born that caused her some breathing difficulties. She needed to be in an incubator. However, days passed and something was still wrong. Baby Amee was barely breathing, had no strength to nurse.

She was transferred by ambulance to a major Saskatoon hospital; there she lie in an incubator in pediatrics intensive care fighting for her life. Tests and more tests were ordered.

In addition to breathing in the meconium, the doctors found that Amee had a stroke as she was being born. Later tests confirmed that the left part of her brain was badly damaged and a small spot in the left frontal lobe was dead. She was constantly having seizures. Finally the doctor told them, “I believe there’s a five percent chance she’ll ever walk…or talk…or leave this hospital.”

Thus began a journey of faith and prayer, a fight for life and strength, hope and understanding. It has culminated in the book Amee’s Story, ©2010 Carol Harrison, printed by Guardian Books, Belleville, ON.

Amee has asked her mother to tell her story for God’s glory. We see in this book His care for His children, His ability to answer prayer far beyond all human prediction. Carol’s book is a must read for all parents and teachers, especially those who are dealing with handicapped children.

Sites For Free E-Books

There’s an old joke from back in the days when service stations all had an outside air pump so you could fill your own tires whenever they got low. Maybe most of them still do? I don’t look after tires anymore. 🙂

The joke goes something like, “The first Scotsman who discovered FREE AIR, trying to get as much for free as he could, blew out all four tires.”

Yeah, I know it’s not politically correct to make ethnic jokes anymore, but I thought of it when an e-mail popped into my In-box this afternoon. It said, “65 FREE e-books, various genres.” With all the free novels being offered by various services, being of Scottish ancestry myself I just might blow out the memory in my e-reader. Thankfully that can’t happen.

Anyway, I went to Book Cave Direct and looked over the list. A few might interest me; a lot of the stories aren’t the genres I’d read or recommend. I did see one book that instructs writers on how to format their Word documents for publishing on Kindle. For someone wanting to publish their own e-book, that could be handy. Here’s the link if you want to check out the list yourself.

The second last book on their list, Blue Hydrangeas, is one I have read, really enjoyed and would recommend. This is the story of a senior husband whose wife has Alzheimer’s. He dreads the thought of putting her in a nursing home, so is caring for her at home but he’s finding it an every-minute-all-day job. A poignant and realistic novel. Read my review here.

Two days ago I also got a notice from one of my favorite writers, Dan Walsh, informing his fans that his book, Remembering Dresden, is free on Amazon until tomorrow. I already have this one; it’s on my “To Read Soon” list.

I’ve gotten some really good books from BookBub, too; they send out a new list of free and specially priced books daily or weekly, as you prefer. If you’re interested, you can find them at bookbub.com. There’s also storycartel.com (where you agree to do a review in exchange for a free book), instafreebie.com and half a dozen others.

Do you have a favorite site that offers free e-books? If you’re a writer, have you found these sites really helpful in promoting your book? I understand authors have to pay a small fee to get their books on the lists sent out.

My goal for this winter is to read the books I’ve already downloaded and write reviews for these. The whole idea behind authors giving away their books through these sites is to generate more reviews. Being a writer myself, I want to lend support where I can, so be prepared for a bunch of book review posts in the next couple of months.

What Makes An Artist

bluebirds.blossoms

by Edgar Guest

We got to talking art one day,
discussing in a general way
how some can match with brush and paint
the glory of a tree,
and some in stone can catch the things
of which the dreaming poet sings,
while others seems to have no way
to tell the joys they see.

Old Blake had sat in silence there
and let each one of us declare
our notions of what’s known as art,
until he’d heard us through.
And then said he: “It seems to me
that any man whoe’er he be,
becomes an artist by the good
he daily tries to do.

He need not write the books men read
to be an artist. No, indeed!
He need not work with paint and brush
to show his love of art;
who does a kindly deed today
and helps another on his way
has painted beauty on a face
and played the poet’s part.

Though some of us cannot express
our inmost thoughts of loveliness,
we prove we love the beautiful
by how we act and live.
The poet singing of a tree
no greater poet is than he
who finds it in his heart some care
unto a tree to give.

Though he who works in marble-stone
the name of artist here may own,
no less an artist is the man
who guards his children well.
‘Tis art to love the fine and true;
by what we are and what we do
how much we love life’s nobler things
to all the world we tell.”

From his book, Collected Verse of Edgar A Guest
© 1934 by The Reilly & Lee Company

The Tasks At Hand

I hope you’re all having a happy day of rest and reflection.

My New Year started with a phone call early this morning. I stayed up to welcome the New Year in — and read an interesting book. (Book review to come.) Then I crawled into bed and was dozing off when the phone rang at 1:10 am. My cousin in Alberta, forgetting the one-hour time difference, was calling to wish us a happy new year.

I listened to her message, then went back to bed, but was restless with my left leg paining quite much. So, up to take more Tylenol, and finally to sleep again.

This morning I arose from my bed and could walk. Joy, joy! What a blessing to be able to get up and walk around without that hobble!

In retrospect I don’t think my problem was gout, seeing there was no heat, redness, or swelling in the knee joint. Rather, I must have over-stretched something in my back when I made my bed and slipped a disk out of place. This morning the nerve down the back of my leg is still sore from being pinched, but the disk must have slid back in where it should be and the nerve isn’t being pinched anymore.

End of painful hobble. I am so delighted!

Now I can get back to my New Year’s resolution to sort out my house. I’ll start out easy by going through the top drawer on my side of our dresser. Over the years this has become my catch-all for everything that has no other place and serves no useful purpose. Skin cream samples and half-tubes, old bookmarks, a scattering of hairpins I never use, old eyeglasses I intend to donate to charity. (Wait a minute! The lenses in my old glasses are all scratched up and the frames obsolete. What charity will want them?)

I’ll try walking a mile in my daughter’s shoes. I’ll go through this drawer, asking, “Which things will she throw out when I’m gone? Which will she think are worth keeping?”

Do you have a “catch all clutter” drawer like that? What rationale do you use for sorting through stuff you’re keeping “just in case I need it someday”?

It’s time to get on with my day, so I’ll close with a New Year’s blessing to all fellow writers: 🙂
May words flow from your veins
in an unblockable stream;

may your mouse never freeze
in the middle of its tale;

may your power never blink
before you’ve hit “Save”;

and may your anti-virus preserve you
from all invasive microbes.

Germ.jpg

Resolutions Upset Already!

happy-new-year-1900587_640

“Life is odd, with its twists and turns,
as every one of us sometimes learns…”

Click here to read the whole poem.

Yesterday after supper I was doing some last minute cleaning — and resolving to give the house a thorough going over in the next few weeks. Then I made the bed and, whether something twisted and turned in my knee or whether my gout just decided to boycott my cleaning agenda, my knee started to feel stiff and sore. Within an hour I couldn’t walk. By bedtime I was dealing with pain from hip to mid-calf.

So I’m meeting the New Year with a hobble and one resolution already put on hold. I’m fairly sure this is gout; hopefully this spell won’t last as long as the one I experienced in November, in my right foot. I certainly see now what those old-time authors meant when they wrote about gout-afflicted, limping old geezers.

Thankfully it hasn’t bothered me to sit and do a jigsaw puzzle this afternoon, or to recline and read. Tomorrow will just be another holiday for me — or maybe I’ll work on an easy sewing project. I’m so thankful for pain meds.

So here’s to a brighter tomorrow! Happy New Year, every one. Thanks for reading and following my blog. I appreciate you all.

 

Those Old Autograph Books

“Lest old acquaintance be forgot…”

Writing my Nanowrimo story in November, the main character being a girl turning twelve and the setting being the summer of 1957, I was researching various interests and hobbies of the late 50s. One of these was autograph books, so I gave my main character one for her birthday.

I wonder how many of you readers remember the autograph books we passed around among our family and friends so we’d have a memory of them for our old age? I’m afraid this bit of social fun has been forgotten in this texting generation — though I’d be delighted to know I’m wrong and some children still have one.

I had one myself, and so did my husband, and I signed many a friend’s autograph book. The idea was to write some sort of good wish, verse, quote, bit of song, and then sign it.

Flowers poem

This poem was written by one of Mom’s siblings:
“How nice it is to have a friend
who always plays the game,
knows all the faults that you possess
and loves you just the same.”

This bit of wisdom, maybe a forerunner of the “How to eat an elephant” line, has often encouraged me when I feel overwhelmed by many To-Dos:
“Little and often makes a heap in time.”

This advice was given to Bob by his Dad:
“A little said, and truly said,
can deeper joys impart
than hosts of words that touch the head,
but never reach the heart.”

Here’s another encouragement my third-grade teacher wrote for me:
“May your life be like a snowflake;
leave a mark, but not a stain.”

Verses could be silly, like these written by two of my friends:
“I saw you in the ocean; I saw you in the sea;
I saw you in the bath-tub. Oops, pardon me!

“Two in a hammock waiting to kiss
all of a sudden they went like…”
The writer turned the book upside down to write “this…
She drew a little illustration to go with this, a hammock between two trees.

And someone was sure to turn to the last page and scribble these lines:
“By hook or by crook,
I’ll be the last one
to sign in this book.”

To write this article I went scrounging through my box of ancient papers, thinking I could find my or my husband’s autograph books — and didn’t. What I did come across was two sheets of notebook paper on which Bob’s mom copied all the writings in her autograph book, which she’d kept for years. Mom was born in 1908, so autograph books have been around a long time indeed!

Here are a few more from her book:
“There is a pale blow flower that grows
around the shepherd’s cot,
and in the silence of the night
it softly breathes ‘forget me not’.”

“May your life be like arithmetic—
friends added, joys multiplied,
sorrows subtracted, enemies divided.”

“When the golden sun is setting
and your mind from care is free,
when of others you are thinking
will you sometimes think of me?”

If you think of some autograph that’s stuck with you through the years, please share it in a comment.

Meadowlark + quote