And Prairies North

I was happy to contribute a piece to this spring’s issue of Prairies North, a magazine I always look forward to receiving. If you’d like to subscribe, go here or call 1-888-861-8311, $26.95 (tax in) for a 1-year (4 issue) subscription. So many interesting places to experience in our province and this magazine is your ticket as you make your ‘must see’ list. And if you can’t go, the magaine is the next best thing! For this issue, I had fun ‘distance meeting’ artist Alison Montgomery to find out what she’s created – and celebrated what others have done – during the pandemic.

HOME time

The Spring issue of Saskatoon HOME is out this week. Have I mentioned I love writing for this magazine? You’ll find some fun distractions in this issue, along with some useful information and fascinating reading about exterior decor, landscaping with boulders for those aspiring mountain climbers in the family, and fanciful and magical yards. Jeff gives us a little history about the aviation-inspired community of McNab Park. Krista takes us on a tour of the jaw-dropping Hospital Home Lottery offering, and meet the adorable Birde the bulldog at home in Nutana. COVID looks like it’s going to be with us for a while longer, so if you’re getting hitched this year, have a look at Julie’s piece on backyard weddings. I know you’ve been holding your breath to find out about the Pantone Colour of the Year choice, so wait no further. And join Maureen in her kitchen to whip up some lighter-than-air angel food cakes. Read your copy online, pick up at any one of several locations, or subscribe to make sure you don’t miss an issue.

One of my favourite pieces lately was a look at what some homeowners have created to entertain themselves and their neighbours during the pandemic. Like Dave Hunchak’s squirrel saloon, the Harders’ hobbit hole and others:

Same story, new look

On its way to the printer! The revised edition of my debut novel, Small Reckonings, will be printed soon and ready for new readers. It’s the same story but with a new cover, designed with a photo I took years ago at the Western Development Museum’s ‘Winning the Prairie Gamble’ exhibit. Thanks, WDM, for permission to use this image. This image has always been in my mind as the Burke farmhouse Depression-era kitchen. The book will be ready soon for direct order from me, and available from McNally Robinson and Turning the Tide bookstore among other bookstores. And as this revised edition gets out to more readers, I’m at work on the sequel.

Night lights

A great trip at twlight is the Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan series of light displays: The Winter City Snow Glow, a winter wonderland of lighting designs to help brighten your winter during our darkest months, says SOTS.  “J.J. Neufled has created a plethora of engaging designs to delight Saskatonians as they pass through our site on the Meewasin Valley Trail from until March 31, 2021.  For most of the winter each lighting show (with only a couple exceptions) will run Tuesday to Sunday from 6:00AM until sunrise and then from sunset to 11:00PM.” The bonus light shows include the Prairie Lily, twinkling on the dock, and the Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital aglow across the river.

So proud…if we can stay awake that long

Our youngest son Benjamin has been making music with Rhye for a long time now. The band just released a new album and tonight they’re the musical guest on Jimmy Kimmel Live. We plan to …try to… stay up to watch the Canadians. Ben’s on keyboard and is usually positioned at the back, so we are hoping for a good view of the boy! It’ll be on Kimmel’s YouTube channel later (thank you, YouTube 🙂

Break a leg, Ben.

Nice promo

A big thanks to C95 Radio’s morning host Shauna Foster for posting her review of my novel Small Reckonings. Her top pick among some very tough competition! I’m so glad you liked the story and said so. Watch for a revised edition coming soon.

We were so lucky

Our daughter-in-law Julia’s grandmother Ba died on New Year’s Day after contracting COVID-19. She was in her late 80s and so strong, sturdy and positive, we all thought she’d make it. Born in Trinidad, she lived in London. Palmer’s Green, to be exact, where we took the train north in 2016 for a visit. We were in London a few days on the way home from Doha. We had met Ba at Ben and Julia’s wedding in 2013 in Tulum, where she kicked up her heels and outlasted several on the dance floor. On this visit, we were welcomed like long-lost family, and had a wonderful visit with Ba, aunties and some nieces. Jim adored her. Ba called us now and then, and during the most recent chat, she talked about being careful because of the virus. She said she would like to come to Canada, and said how proud she was of Julia and Ben. “We’ll talk again soon, you lovely people!” was the last thing she said to us. We are so lucky to have known such a resilient, optimistic and caring woman, and proud to be included in her family.

Book ends

Just a little update for people who have been asking about my debut novel Small Reckonings. It came out in March, sold out, was reprinted in May and now as December comes to a close, we’re just about sold out again. With more requests coming in, Rick and I are going to release a revised edition under our own writing company, Copestone. So watch for that in early 2021! Same story, different cover. I have been so humbled by the dozens of reader responses I’ve received, and I’m so pleased we’ll be able to get the story out to even more of you soon. There is a possibility that a copy or two is still available through Inclusion Press in Ontario. Email Cathy Hollands – cathy@inclusion.com – to check. And the sequel – so many have been asking for it! – is underway. In the photos, you’ll see Jim and I going over the original story, hunting down any errant typos and tweaking here and there. Thanks to all of you who have asked what will happen next, even those who have suggested what should happen! And, wait for it, there’s a twist to the original true story that I just found out about!

The first edition of the novel had a great year, and I was happy to be a guest at many Zoom book club meetings with more to come soon. I even got to do a reading for the Fairview Rotary Club, my old hometown when I was in junior high and high school, at the invite of my favourite old school bus driver! It was a thrill to see the book promoted during Sask Books Week in September at wonderful local bookstores like Turning the Tide on Broadway. It’s quite exciting to see your book displayed in a store window. And I’ve met so many wonderful people – at a distance and masked – who purchased a copy or copies. People like Ev MacKay in the blue face mask below; Ev and her late husband Ron (he passed away with covid earlier this year) owned Red’s Camps in La Ronge. They were frequent hosts to Johnny Cash and June Carter, and even Jacques Cousteau over the years. Now there’s a story that needs to become a novel!