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Tag Archives: Alberta

Inspiration

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I haven’t been writing lately.

It isn’t that I haven’t been thinking about it – I’m waiting to hear “any day now” on a manuscript, so it’s on my mind, believe me. But there are other things going on; the everyday drama that arises when you have a bunch of passionate volunteers, a big change on the horizon that is going to be good, but is still a change and therefore scary, and any number of other things that distract me and use up my creative energy.

And then, on Saturday night, there were northern lights. I know, the picture doesn’t look that spectacular, but they were. Spectacular. Best I’ve ever seen them, dancing across the sky for an hour, mostly green but with flashes of yellow and filling the whole northern sky and part of the east. Amazing.

I thought about how I would describe the lights in a story, and how the lights could play a pivotal role.

My manuscript in progress was sitting at 53,000 words and though I opened it up nearly every day, I hadn’t made a change in longer than I care to admit. On Sunday, the morning after the northern lights, I sat down and read/revised the entire thing, fixing the plot points that had been holding me back.

Monday, I wrote 3500 words.
Tuesday, 2000 words.
And today, Wednesday, I wrote another 4000 words to finish the story.

The aurora borealis came right when I needed it, and I’m am so grateful. So is Evie, who I’m sure was wondering if I was ever going to finish her story.

 
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Posted by on February 22, 2012 in writing

 

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Living History

My brother recently spent a week in Cuba, and took lots of photos. It is a country that lives their history in front of them every day, with ancient forts, beautiful stone buildings from every era of their long history, and even antique cars everywhere you look – being a car guy, the vintage vehicles featured fairly prominently in my brother’s photographs.

The history of Alberta isn’t nearly so obvious. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on January 23, 2012 in history, writing

 

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Waiting For The Chinook

Yesterday morning while I was driving to work the thermometer on my car said -37. That’s minus 37 Celsius, if you were wondering, not that it makes much difference at those temperatures: -40 is -40 whether you speak Canadian or American. Until this cold snap hit, we’d been spoiled with a positively balmy winter, temperatures hovering around freezing for the most part, with some spring-like days. Up until this week, the dangerous winter weather we’d had to deal with involved wind, not frigid temperatures.

As usual, as I was looking at that -37 on the digital readout, my imagination took me back into Alberta’s past, to the early settlers. They didn’t have weathermen warning them that the cold temperatures were coming, and after weeks and weeks of temperate weather the cold snap could have easily snuck up on them. If they weren’t prepared, with food and shelter and warmth for themselves and the animals they relied on, there could be deadly consequences.

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Posted by on January 20, 2012 in history, writing

 

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Focus … or Obsession? Local History Edition.

I tend to dive wholeheartedly into anything that interests me.  I watch whole seasons of my favorite TV shows at once. I discover a new author I like, and read their whole backlist. If I start writing a new story, I pretty much do nothing else until it’s done.

My friend Stacy says it’s an admirable quality. My brother calls me OCD. He likes cite the time when I was typing away during the previews at the movie theater as evidence to support his theory.

Right now, my thoughts and spare time is wrapped up with the cabin.

In 1908, John Alfke, his wife and their young son homesteaded the quarter section of land where I currently live.  I don’t know a lot about Mr. Alfke, but I do know that he knew how to build a house. The cabin he built for his family is still standing. They moved into the town of Cochrane in 1921, but not before their two younger sons were born in the cabin. Mr. Alfke sold it to John Ward, who then sold to Evan Jones in 1918.

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Posted by on October 23, 2011 in history

 

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Snow

This has been a terrible winter for much of the US. States that never get snow have been shut down by blizzards. I can see how even a couple of inches of snow would be a big deal for a city that doesn’t have any snow removal equipment!

Here in Alberta, we’re used to snow. Used to it, which doesn’t mean we’re all that adept at dealing with it. Every year the city of Calgary spends millions on snow removal, and there is always an outcry that their efforts are not good enough, that side streets never see a plow.

There are a lot of people who live in this area that love the snow, wait for snow, and wish it would snow more. They love to go skiing or snowboarding or snowmobiling, and part of the reason they live here is because they love the winter sports that are available.

I’m not one of those people.

I went downhill skiing once in my life, in grade six. It was a disaster. As the only beginner in my class, I even had a private lesson. I feel for that girl who tried to teach me, I really do.

I fell down on the T-bar, then panicked that the people behind me would run over me. I fell down a lot. I spent more time on my butt in the snow than I did up on the skis. At one point, a boy in my class was going past and said, “You’re doing great, Kendra!” in a misguided attempt to encourage me. I snapped back at him, “I am not!” and didn’t even feel bad about it.

Finally, the lesson was over, and after lunch I was supposed to ski on my own. Ha. I spent an enjoyable few hours settled in at a table in the lodge, drinking hot chocolate and visiting with classmates. THAT part was fun.

Earlier this week a drift pulled me into the ditch, where I proceeded to get the truck I’d borrowed from my mom hopelessly stuck.

Last week the horses walked over the fence on top of a drift.

I’m not a big fan of snow. There are other things I like about winter though. It’s hockey season for one, and every time the Flames play I go watch the game on TV with my aunt and my grandma. Winter is when I get to hang out and watch movies, and most of all, when I have time to curl up with my computer and write.

Today, it’s cold and sunny. The snow sparkles on everything, and even the air looks like it’s filled with gently falling glitter. The fir trees are draped in snow like something out of a postcard, and even the leaf-less branches of the poplars are dressed up, coated in frost. The mountains are white in the distance, standing tall against the bright blue of the sky.

Maybe snow isn’t so bad … through a window … with a hot cup of earl grey.

 
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Posted by on February 11, 2011 in Uncategorized, writing

 

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Alberta Bound

I’ve lived in Alberta for my whole life.

Granted, I might be biased, but I love it here.  It’s beautiful … like the beer commercial says, “Canada has more square feet of awesomeness per person than any other nation on earth.” (Is it bad that a beer commercial makes me feel patriotic? I don’t even LIKE beer.) We don’t have earthquakes or hurricanes, and rarely are tornadoes a concern. Sure, there’s a lot higher percentage of winter than in some places, but right where I live we have a marvelous phenomenon known as a Chinook. When a chinook hits, we get a 20 degree warm up and a magical removal of impressive amounts of snow in the space of a day. Heck, in Alberta, we don’t even have any rats!

I’ve always had an interest in the history of the region. I loved learning about John Ware in school. When my grandma was a little girl they lived in his family house. When they moved it, they found Mrs. Ware’s lost wedding rings underneath the foundation. I saw the rings a couple months ago in the museum … it’s so much more fun to learn about history when there is a connection that means something to you!

When I wanted to write a time travel novel, I chose to set it in Calgary, and had my main character,14 year old Stella, travel back in time 100 years, to 1910. It was fascinating to read about the early history of the city, and while I very much enjoyed writing Stella’s adventure, by 1910 Calgary was a full fledged city, and it’s the earlier days that are interesting me now.

Between 1881 and 1891, the population of the area now known as Alberta grew by 17,000 people. 17,000!  When the first train came into Calgary on newly laid tracks on August 11, 1883, the population of the city doubled in a single day as CPR set up it’s headquarters there to continue the expansion of the railway.

Next on my reading list is a book about the North West Mounted Police and their march west, and this summer I’m planning a trip to Buckingham House, the first Hudson Bay Company outpost in Alberta, built in the 1790’s.

I was driving to work the other day, and looked over at the city to the east of me. The ski jumps at Canada Olympic Park were silhouetted against the pink of the rising sun, and I wondered what the landscape would’ve looked like back then. Would I recognize that big, square hill if I was dropped into the past, or would everything be unfamiliar?

I think it’s safe to say that there are stories set in the Alberta frontier in my future.

 
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Posted by on February 2, 2011 in history, writing

 

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