Back from Alaska

No internet for me on the Coral Princess, well I did pay for 15 minutes to wish my son a happy birthday but otherwise I un-addicted myself. It helped that I forgot my camera-downloading cord at home. I hate blogging without an image. The surprise gift on the cruise was an upgrade to balcony which meant not stop beauty from my bedroom window. Listening to silence as we drifted through Glacier Bay was inspiring and

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eerie. Immediately below is a small iceberg broken from Mendenhall Glacier a short shuttle ride from Juneau. Incredibly I heard an explosion and actually saw one

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break off while I was standing there. Next are views from the boat of Glacier Bay and from my window of Whittier. Last is a snapshot of Denali Mountain. It needs to be a bright clear day for the highest peak in North America to appear. We had perfect weather. Over so quick, like a dream.

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On the trail of the Feature

I inherited a “staycation” feature from my fellow editor who became too busy. I love Toronto and always feel I should get to know it better so I started off on Harry the Hippo, an amphibious bus tour. Leanne, the tour guide, gave random trivia about Toronto like that the Royal Bank Building has $90 worth of gold dust in every window. No wonder bank charges are so high! The cool factor of course was when Harry splashed into the water off Ontario Place

We were pretty cold after our hour and a half tour, mainly ’cause we unsnapped the windows over the lake. After a hot soup, we headed to Harbourfront for a coffee with the dogs at the Pet Discovery Centre (Pawsway). Always fun to meet with animal people. No chihuauas in mini skirts today.
Then we headed for the AGO. Absolutely awesome in the true sense of the word. In the wooden atrium, there is a massive (sculpted )palm tree on its side, complete with roots. The exhibit is called palm Sunday. We also checked out the whimsical Bata Shoe Museum. I tried on some Elton John type shoes. We finished with the longest streetcar ride in the world ending in the Beach.
A great day. I have a bunch more museums to try to squeeze in before my trip to Vancouver and Alaska. Then the irony will be writing about a staycation while away on an cruise-cation.

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Mining for Magazine Stories

My writing job consists of three parts, one: writing novels which I consider the main part, two:talking about writing with students, there by exciting them to read and write and three: writing and editing for Today’s Parent Toronto. All of these jobs crisscross in lots of fun ways.

I visited Science North while I was teaching at Alexander Public School a couple of years ago with the idea of writing a travel feature on Sudbury and their great museums and instead wrote Slam Dunk Robot, a piece of fiction for grade twos, set in Science North.
So on the way home from Timmins and the highschool art day, I stopped in Sudbury to shorten the drive and meet up with other writers and storytellers Aubrey Davis and Bernice Hume to give them a lift home. To pass the time waiting till they were done their readings, I visited Dynamic Earth and Science North on a complimentary pass they so graciously granted me.
I used to feel guilty about asking for these when I didn’t know whether the visits would lead directly into a marketable piece of writing that would get them more visitors. Now I realize you can never tell where an idea will come from or what kind of story will evolve from it and so everyone shares in the gamble and process.

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Violet’s Celebration

On April 24th Gisela Sherman (another great writer and good friend) hosted a welcoming celebration for my new grandaughter Violet Vivien McNicoll. Because the ladies who came seemed so much like fairy godmothers to Violet, I asked them each to write out their wishes for her, hoping that no 13th fairy would show. Now there is at least one wish missing so I hope that “fairy” will write me theirs so it is not lost for all time. Also the painting wish needs to be identified.

Because most of the attendants were writers, their take on the assignment varied. Here are their wishes:

Cathy Miyata: Expensive jewellery, opals and diamonds (I asked for specifics and this one is so juicey and decadent, it’s perfect

Grandmama Maureen: In your search to find love I hope, just like Mom and Dad you find it in an easy and obvious place. (This wish refers to the fact that Erin, Violet’s mom, and Craig, her dad and my son, saw each other a long time before actively seeing each other, if you know what I mean. Erin is Jennifer, Craig’s sister’s best friend. Complicated but they found love through family and friendship. A lovely wish.

I wish for Violet to have extreme skills in breakdancing and to be fluent in Mandarin. Auntie Robin

I wish for Violet to become an awesome Karaoke Diva Auntie Jen.

May your favourite colour be violet and may you use it in all your paintings.(I think this is Becca’s)

May you enjoy the company of many siblings and cousins.(This one’s mine and I made it because every Friday we have large family dinner gatherings that are loud, messy and hopefully fun for Violet. )






Ticklish Acrostic poem by Estelle Salata and her daughter Paula

I hope you read 11,000 great books! (including mineJ Gisela

We wish for you the ability to time travel and meet all the great McNicolls of the past. Jane and Wendy McNicoll (I agree with the sentiment behind this one. There are people who have passed on to a different leg of the journey who would have loved to meet Violet and give her their good wishes)

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