Here’s the link to my post on LinkedIn about the world finally coming around to the idea that content really is king… Have a read if you were wondering what has prompted all my recent online activity! And, yes, the blog is in the cue when it comes to getting a little lovin’…
If all else fails and the other obligations keep piling on, April (and another AtoZ Blogging Challenge) is just around the corner. My nightly Pillow Talk broadcasts will be ending soon (I think. That was a 100-Day project over on Nikki Tate Loves Books on Facebook and the 100-Days comes to an end on January 31. I say ‘I think’ because I’ve really been enjoying doing those…). I will miss reading aloud to the world every night at bedtime, but if I cut back on how often I put you to sleep that will open up a sliver of time and mental energy for a little more regular blogging…
What Am I Working On? Well..
While I’m here – super quick update on the current WiP – Choosing to Live, Choosing to Die: Considering the Complexities of Assisted Dying is in the final stages of design, proofreading and production — watch for that later this year from Orca Book Publishers.
The first draft of the Footprints title on global deforestation is due by the middle of this month and then it’s back to work on the Orca Issues book for teens about civil disobedience. Yep, lots going on, but all good stuff.
New Writing Courses About to Launch
And, hey – if you are interested in getting a little writing done yourself, check out this new project of mine. My writing school is about to launch online! I am SO EXCITED about the first class, which is starting in March. It’s been a long time coming, but apparently, 2019 is the year when it’s all coming together!
But just before I get to that dreadful muddly middle where it seems there is no realistic chance I will ever finish writing the first draft, there’s a lovely stage of enthusiasm and ease that lasts up until about the first third is done. I’m nearing the end of that blissful stage in That Deforestation Book and I thought I’d take a moment to pause, reflect, and enjoy the fact that things are going well.
There are loads of resources out there and I’ve sunk my teeth into several (though finished reading none). I’m finding my research is actually fitting quite nicely into the fairly detailed outline I set up in Scrivener. I’ve been told by my editor to be careful because Scrivener and Word (which is how I’ll eventually need to export the draft before it goes off to the editor) don’t always play nicely together. For the moment, I’ve decided not to worry about that too much because I’m finding Scrivener to be quite helpful and a good fit for the chaotic way in which I write. I jump all over the place in a manuscript when I’m starting out and only later go back and get all methodical and chronological about the material. That’s when I realize just how big the gaps are that I’ve left to deal with later…
For now, though, I am merrily inserting ‘look at this later’ comments to myself when I discover I don’t know as much as I thought I did about specific details (like the percentage of forests in BC that are clearcut each year and how that number has changed over the past 50 years). On the other side, I’m finding resources like the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN) document, Global Forests Resource Assessment 2015which is available as a free Kindle download and which provides an interesting overview of global deforestation (and replanting) numbers over the past 25 years.
Basically, I’m still feeling optimistic and happy about how things are going. I’m approaching the 30% mark in terms of word count and am easily finding material to slot into the various sections. What I also know is that this feeling of ‘I’ve got this’ is about to turn into ‘What the hell was I thinking?’ as I approach the halfway mark and the beginning of the muddy middle.
So, What’s the Difference between Pollarding and Coppicing?
The difference between the two ancient practices (according to this BBC article, there are coppiced trees in France that have been coming and going, so to speak, for six centuries!) is that one cuts a coppiced tree right to the ground, whereas a pollarded specimen has been cut a bit higher up. In both cases, the new growth is quick, vigorous, and eminently useful.
Thin, pliable, young shoots may be used for basket or furniture-making, but if you leave your fresh growth to mature for a bit, it’s possible to produce quite a large amount of usable wood in a relatively short amount of time. In addition to the basic concept, I’ve added some new vocabulary (stool, copse, lop, poll) and found a few decent photos, so that whole section is looking reasonable.
Have I Ever Coppiced a Tree? Why, Yes I Have!
The first time I coppiced a tree was after a wild blizzard on Vancouver Island. A lovely old, but fragile, plum tree split in half and basically disintegrated under the weight of a huge amount of wet, west coast snow. The sprawling wreckage that emerged when the snow melted was heartbreaking, but the debris was also affecting other trees in our orchard as one half of the plum had fallen across a young cherry tree we had planted and the other half had crashed into one of our favourite apple trees. So, we cut the plum tree down thinking that was that. Lo and behold, when spring came a virtual forest of plum tree stalks shot up from the stump. We left the spindly young ones alone for a few years and they put on quite the show of blossoms each spring. Because the original fruiting part of the tree would have been grafted onto rootstock, we never did get any more edible fruit, but the amount of regrowth was truly inspiring and I used quite a few of the new sticks to build some rustic gates and other farm and garden structures.
That was my introduction to the concept of coppicing which, as my father enlightened me at the time, was a common practice back in the UK and elsewhere in Europe. In terms of That Deforestation Book, my fond memories of lopping and chopping have been recycled quite nicely into a sidebar in the pollarding section…
Word count: Running total 2663 (though, that’s a bit inflated because it includes my growing list of references which won’t be included in the final total…Using Scrivener, I’m not quite sure how to exclude a section when doing my word count. If you are a Scrivener expert, do tell…)
I’m reposting the following in its entirety from my daughter, Dani’s page over on the Team Diabetes website as she says far more eloquently than I could why she is planning to take part in a marathon (!!) next October in Munich. If you are able, please consider making a donation (it can be modest or massive, once only or ongoing… they make it pretty easy to contribute at whatever level you can) to help support her run. Here’s the link to her profile: Dani’s Marathon Page
‘That’s right, you heard me–I’m going for a [42.2km] run!’ (Dani’s Munich Marathon)
Training run to Tod Inlet with Toryn
Anyone who knows me knows I don’t like to run. Like at all. I’ve spent most of my life avoiding running unless there was a soccer ball involved, and even then, the running was the annoying part that got in the way of making plays and scoring goals. But I have to say that I hate being diabetic more, so here we are.
I was diagnosed at age 5 on St. Patrick’s Day 1993 (fun fact, St. Paddy’s is my most vehemently hated holiday)! and by the time I was 10, a back of the envelope calculation would suggest I’d given myself nearly 11,000 needles of one sort of another to stay alive. The number per day is decreasing thanks to insulin pumps and bloodless glucose monitors, but I’m probably at nearly 30,000 pokes, and instead of daily injections and finger pokes, I have two different devices attached to my body at all times.
I’m lucky in that my body has held up to this physical challenge so far (and fingers crossed, will continue to do so!) but picture being 5 and being told that you needed to control this mysterious thing in your body (by not eating sugar, counting your exchanges/carbs, giving yourself shots, recognizing being high or low, making peace offerings to mystical sea spirits, etc., etc., etc.,) and that if you didn’t, you could lose a leg, or a kidney, or your life.
It’s a lot to put on any kid–continues to be a lot to put on an adult–and has left me with a serious phobia of anyone in the medical profession (which gets very inconvenient as my friends are growing up to become doctors and dentists!) and a pretty large amount of anxiety related to talking about being diabetic. Sooo…don’t expect to hear too much about that when I update. I imagine there will be a lot more complaining about the hill runs and intervals, and the chafing and the new shoes, and the blisters as Toryn and I take on the longest measured run we’ve ever done, by some magnitude.
We’ve committed to running the Munich Marathon in October 2019, and as part of our training, will be covering many hundreds of kilometres between now and then. Just as big a challenge will be meeting a commitment to raise $6,500 in support of Diabetes Canada, who have a little blurb, below.
We’ll be updating you as our training continues–we have a short 5k race in about three weeks I’ll try and remember to post about–and in the meantime, please consider donating to both move us closer to a cure and give me something positive to think about while I do all that running since–see point A–it’s not the first thing I’d love to be doing!
Thank you so much for your support, whether a financial contribution or a high five along the trail!
Team Diabetes is the national physical activity fundraising program for Diabetes Canada. Team members promote a healthy lifestyle while raising vital funds in support of the more than 11 million Canadians living with diabetes or prediabetes. The funds raised help Diabetes Canada deliver on its mission to lead the fight against diabetes by helping people with diabetes live healthy lives while we work to find a cure. We invite you to learn more about Team Diabetes and the important work of Diabetes Canada at http://www.teamdiabetes.ca.
Sometimes it feels like everything I do, read, think about is research. Case in point, this kalenderlys, which I found on Flickr (thank you, Sakena Ali!). Dani and I are putting the finishing touches on Christmas: From Solstice to Santa and we are at the stage where we are working with the designer to finalize the last few images. You might think I came across the tradition of the Danish advent candle (each evening in December you burn your kalenderlys until you reach the next of 24 lines inscribed on the side of said candle) by googling something like candles at Christmas or something logical like that. But no, I arrived at the kalenderlys via a dating app for professionals.
I moved to Alberta not that long ago and don’t know many people in writing and publishing, so I thought I’d give Shapr a try. The app is intended for professionals looking to make business connections and works a lot like Tinder – swipe one way for someone who looks interesting and relevant, the other for those who seem to be selling financial management products. Not to say that I couldn’t benefit from some financial management consulting, but my interests tend to run in other directions.
Anyway, one of the matches that popped up was a blogger called Angela Davis who lives in St. Albert, Alberta. Angela has a blog called Hedonism and Hygge (subtitle: Live with Pleasure). So, most of the words I knew… hedonism… pleasure – yes, fine. But hygge? Before clicking on the link in Angela’s profile I googled hygge (what can I say, hedonism and pleasure could have taken me to a very different kind of website to the delightful one that Angela authors) only to discover a whole, huge world of hygge that I had no idea existed!
Hygge, it turns out, is a Danish thing that can be loosely translated as ‘cosy togetherness’ or ‘taking pleasure in soothing things’ or ‘enjoying the company of friends by candlelight’. There’s a whole hygge movement and a stack of books available from the local library system. I know because I immediately requested several of them.
No sooner had I opened one published by the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen than I was reading about how Danes use more candles (over six kilos of candle wax per Dane per annum!!!!!) than anyone else in Europe. They also love their kalenderlys’s! (or whatever the correct plural would be in Danish).
Who knew? I love candles, personally, but almost never burn them. The principles of hygge encourage candle-burning, especially during the long wintery nights that lie ahead. It’s probably too late to order my own kalenderlys for this year, but next year… look out! Meanwhile, with any luck, we will be able to add an image to the chapter in the book about light and celebrating Christmas around the world.
What is your favourite tradition to celebrate the days leading up to Christmas?
Gads – where to even start??? How about with brownie mix?
Why brownie mix you may ask? Well, the forthcoming Christmas book includes recipes and craft activities, so we’ve been testing… Which might be a fine, fun thing to be doing if I wasn’t also trying to get organized to go away next week. At times like this, the kitchen shouldn’t really look like a bomb went off…
Meanwhile, over on the coast, Dani is going through thousands of family photos in search of suitable images to include in the book. We are both pretty excited about the book – another in the Orca Origins series – (what’s not to love about Christmas?), but also completely stressed as our respective planes are departing very, very soon… (according to my countdown clock, I will be taxiing down the runway in 6 days, 20 hours and 48 minutes).
So far, the recipes and crafts are working out fine – with the exception, perhaps, of the homemade tree decorations made from the strangest mix of applesauce, white glue, and cinnamon. They smell great and look like cookies (you cut the shapes out with cookie cutters) and one was very nearly eaten by a hungry family member as the gooey batch was drying on the counter! This is why we test recipes… I will be adding a warning that kids should make a sign warning people not to test the ornaments while they are drying, no matter how tasty they look!
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