Yukon HO!

Dear Vi,

I forgot to tell you that Mr C and I heading out for our annual spring sojourn to the Yukon. We arrived a week ago today. Two months off the grid are in our future. No phone, internet or television, no electricity, running water or indoor plumbing, except when we go to town.

Obviously, I went to town today, because here I am, writing to you from the Whitehorse Public Library.

Our departure date crept up on me like a kitten stalking my shoelaces. One minute I was blithely going about my business and the next I was tripped up by little needle claws in my ankles, causing me to run around making last minute lists and piles of things in doorways and on counter tops.

I did write a couple of blog posts along the way, which I’ll tack onto the end here in case you’re interested:

(May 9, 2017)  Yesterday we turned right off highway 16 onto highway 37, better known to northern locals as the the Stewart Cassiar Highway, and stayed the night at a rest stop just north of Kitwanga. It was a pretty place, and we stopped early enough to enjoy a nice supper and the rest of the evening. 

Have you ever been driving along and said to yourself, “I wonder what’s down there?” when you pass a road you’ve never been down?

Well, we did it today. We turned left at Meziadin Junction (highway 37A) and drove the 65 kilometres to almost-too-tiny-to-call-a-town Stewart, BC.

Stewart is a deep-sea port. It’s neighbour only a kilometre away is Hyder, Alaska. 

Our timing was off. It’s too early in the season, and most everything was closed down. The drive in and out was spectacular, though. Straight through the heart of the soaring Stikine mountains, through a narrow  valley, a narrower gulch, past a spectacular glacier and glacial lake. 

We decided we’ll come back on our return trip. Maybe catch the view when it isn’t shrouded in early spring cloud. When the town is awake and the visitor’s centre, museum, and coffee shops are open. 

(May 10, 2017) We’re pretty far north now, flirting with the Yukon border. It was snowing when we woke up this morning. We’d spent the night at a rest stop with the inauspicious name of Rabid Grizzly, a burbling creek beside us, the long expanse of Dease Lake frozen below.

Historically, Highway 37 has a poor reputation among Yukoners travelling south. It’s always been a pretty rough road, a sure bet for potholes, washboards and washouts, narrow one-lane bridges and never ending rain. 

The highway doesn’t deserve that old reputation anymore. I’m happy to report the highway is in fine shape and we made excellent time. 

It’s a pretty drive. Not jaw-dropping spectacular in the way driving though Muncho Park is, but when the sun decides to burn off the clouds, you’re treated to beautiful views of the Stikine mountains.

And bears. Lots and lots of bears.

I promise to post some pictures next time. I’m a bit limited here on the library computer. IMG_1552

Posted in Camping, Yukon | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

The Tunic Bible and an Orange Shift Dress

Hey, Vi… look what I got!

The Tunic Bible: One Pattern, Interchangeable Pieces, Ready-to-Wear Results. by Sarah Gunn and Julie Starr

Here’s the back-of-the-book blurb:

The only tunic pattern you’ll ever need. Create chic, ready-to-wear tunics with a multi-length, graded pattern and expert construction tips. Choose your style–casual, preppy, boho, or glamorous – with interchangeable sleeves, neck plackets, and collars. Get advice on shopping for fabric and trims, guided by a huge gallery of inspiring tunics.

I can attest to the fact that everything they say in this blurb is true. The instructions are easy peasy to follow, and there are dozens and dozens of pictures of different tunics, along with a description and fabric used.

In the mood to sew, I rummaged around in my stash and came up with this orange stripe quilting cotton by Robert Kaufman.

I don’t know why I bought it, to be honest. What was I thinking?

I remember buying it on a dreary rainy winter day. I remember holding it up to myself and feeling happy. But really, an orange dress???

Well, as my mom said, I could always wear it on Halloween, lol!

Happily, it turned out great! I feel happy in this cheerful pumpkin and cream shift dress. I don’t feel like trick-or-treating at all!

For my first tunic, I chose the  “Outside Facing V-Neck Placket,” and made it a bit longer so I could wear it as a shift dress.

A shift dress is far from the most flattering garment. But it is my absolute favourite for comfort.  I could wear a shift dress every single day, especially during the summer when it gets so bloody hot.

You can MOVE in a shift dress.

With all the orange stripes, I was worried I’d look like an escaped prisoner, so I wanted to do something creative to break up all the vertical lines. Cutting the placket and the bottom band on the horizontal was an easy fix.

The best and most important thing I can say about The Tunic Bible is that this pattern fit me with no alterations. None. Zero. Zip. This is the dress straight off the pattern. I know! That never ever happens. Not to me, anyway.

The only change I would make next time is maybe to raise the bottom of the armscye as it’s a bit low on me. But not dangerously low…no fear of flashing or anything like that. And actually, when it’s really really hot in July and August, that extra ventilation might just be welcome.

I predict many tunics in my future. I want to make the maxi-dress version, and a hip-length one with fabulous trim around the neck. Oh! and the ruffled version! Yummy!

The Tunic Bible gets five stars!

Posted in Blog Categories, Book Review, Made by Me Clothing, me-made clothing, sewing | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments

Goodreads and a Book Review: Pines by Blake Crouch

Dear Vi,

I joined Goodreads. I mean to use it as a way of keeping track of the books I’ve read. I’m so terrible at remembering titles and authors … maybe this will help.

Or maybe it will just be another social media chore that I’ll neglect. Like Instagram, which I joined but never remember to check. Ditto Twitter. And FaceBook.

Anyway, I just finished reading Pines by Blake Crouch. This is a ZERO SPOILER review. You’re welcome.

Here’s the back-of-the-book blurb:

Secret service agent Ethan Burke arrives in Wayward Pines, Idaho, with a clear mission: locate and recover two federal agents who went missing in the bucolic town one month earlier. But within minutes of his arrival, Ethan is involved in a violent accident. He comes to in a hospital, with no ID, no cell phone, and no briefcase. The medical staff seems friendly enough, but something feels…off. As the days pass, Ethan’s investigation into the disappearance of his colleagues turns up more questions than answers. Why can’t he get any phone calls through to his wife and son in the outside world? Why doesn’t anyone believe he is who he says he is? And what is the purpose of the electrified fences surrounding the town? Are they meant to keep the residents in? Or something else out? Each step closer to the truth takes Ethan further from the world he thought he knew, from the man he thought he was, until he must face a horrifying fact—he may never get out of Wayward Pines alive.

What did I think?

I loved the premise and the mystery kept me turning the pages, so in that sense the book was a success. However, in the end, when I read the last line and closed the book, I felt vaguely disappointed. I had been unable to suspend my disbelief enough to truly get lost in the pages.

In my opinion, this could have been an outstanding work of science fiction – truly epic. Perhaps the sequels will fill in some of the blanks and go into the depth the topic begs for.

I gave it three stars on Goodreads (I liked it). I didn’t love it and it was better than just okay. Sadly, there isn’t a star option for “I liked it okay,” given with a shrug.  Lol.

Have you read it? What did you think?

Do you use Goodreads?

 

Posted in Book Review, Books | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Query Blurb for Holding Space

Dear Vi,

I’ve been climbing steadily and have finally reached the top of Procrastination Mountain.  I’m clinging onto it like a barnacle.

I’ve spent countless hours on the internet and read countless articles and blog posts on the Dos and Don’ts of writing a query letter. There’s a lot of conflicting information out there, let me tell ya. So much conflicting advice, in fact, that I’m inclined to just ignore most of it.

What does the query blurb have to do? Well, it has to accurately capture the gist of the story, it has to be professional, it has to be tight. It has to make you Want. To. Read. The. Book.

And the entire query letter – blurb and all – has to fit on one page.

Eee gads.

Well, yesterday I finally wrote something that feels like it’s getting close. In fact, it’s your lucky day, Vi, because I’m going to share it with you!

Here it is, in block quote format:

On May 18 at 1030 Coordinated Universal Time, nearly every person on Earth disappears.

In Winnipeg, battle-scarred Canadian Forces veteran Kat Russo is fighting PTSD while trying to rebuild her life after the death of her lover. When humanity vanishes before her eyes, she falls back on her military training and embarks on a cross-country search for survivors and, ultimately, for herself.

In Vancouver, Dr. Maria Zhou is the brilliant but pampered only daughter of immigrant parents, and the youngest staff member at the University of British Columbia’s Quantum Matter Institute.  When the unimaginable happens, she finds hope in the unlikeliest of places while attempting to formulate a hypothesis to explain the mysterious event.

On the remote west coast of British Columbia, aging artist Noella Harris takes refuge at the Seal Island Lightstation. Alternating between hope and despair, she figures out how to start the lighthouse’s big diesel generators and begins broadcasting messages over the station’s radio beacon in hopes of saving her sanity – and any remnants of humanity that may be listening.

What would you do if you found yourself suddenly, achingly alone? Holding Space isn’t the story of what happens; it’s the story of what happens next.

Holding Space is a character-driven work of science fiction set in the initial weeks following the disappearance and told through alternating points of view. Complete at 81,000 words, it touches on the themes of grief, loss, family, and the unexpected sweetness of reunion. It would appeal to those who enjoyed Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel and Dark Matter by Blake Crouch.

Okay! There you go. It isn’t polished up to a glossy shine just yet, but it’s getting there. I’m going to sit on it for another day or so and then look at it again.

As always, your thoughts are welcome.

Posted in Blog Categories, Writing | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Hands2Help, Vogue 9057, row quilts, novels and knitting

Dear Vi,

Put your hands together and wish a happy 7th anniversary to the Hands2Help Charity Quilt Challenge!

Sarah has graciously reminded us that this weekend is the first linky party to show our progress on our quilts.

Yes, I’m one of “those people” who wear socks with their Birkenstock sandals. I wish I could say I’m sorry, but I’m not. I choose function over fashion just about every time, much to the dismay of certain fashion-oriented members of my family whose names I will not mention, lol!

I’ve gone through my box of orphan blocks and picked out 12 that go together fairly nicely. Add some sashing and a nice, wide border and soon it’ll be a lap-sized quilt perfect for donating to the chemotherapy ward at our local hospital. Since chemo makes the patient so ill – and so cold – it will be very welcome, I’m sure.

And remember in this post where I said I was going to sew a top?  Well, I did, and here it is:

Vogue 9057

It actually turned out pretty nice, and I’ve even worn it out in public a couple of times. It does have a few issues, though…mainly that the neck is too wide. I need to put in some back shoulder darts to keep it from sliding down and showing off my bra straps.

The next time I make this pattern, I’ll cut the neck & shoulders a size smaller, then grade out for the body. You can always cut the neck bigger, but you can’t cut it smaller, so there you go.

Oh, and you’ll notice that I haven’t hemmed it. That’s because I can’t figure out how to hem the points. Ha!

What else…

The quilt guild I belong to is doing a row-by-row round robin, and I’ve really been enjoying it. Each person has chosen a theme for their row quilt, and each month we pass along our work to the next person on the list, and then make a row according to the “owner” specifications.  This is the row I made this month for Beth. I think it’s my favourite so far. Sam certainly likes it!And are you wondering where I’m at with the novel?  (insert big heaving sigh here)I’ve been working on my query pitch. OMG who’d have thought writing a query pitch would be harder than writing the entire novel?  Eee gads.

So while I’m pondering how to entice a literary agent in under 200 words, I’ve been knitting. What else would I be doing? Don’t I always knit when I hit the writing doldrums?

This is a sock knit in the most lovely yarn called Regia, which is made in Italy for the German Schachenmayer yarn company. This particular skein is from their special edition Kaffe Fassett design line. Doesn’t it just scream “spring?”

What a mishmash of a letter today. But it pretty much sums up how my life has been going this last month.

And to top it all off, I complete forgot the A-Z in April challenge!

 

 

 

 

 

I hope you’re doing better with the mental organization than I am these days, lol!

 

Posted in Because you Matter, Blog Categories, Charity, Knitting, Made by Me Clothing, me-made clothing, Quilting, Quilts, sewing | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

Polishing Edits

Dear Vi,

It’s been awhile since I’ve mentioned the manuscript. Were you wondering what’s up with it?

Well, at the end of February I sent it out to a few friends who volunteered to be beta readers. These are people who give the novel a test run and report back with any problems they find.

While they were reading, I put the manuscript away and moved on to other things. At the time, I felt so done with it, I really didn’t care if I never looked at it again. But time passed and comments started trickling in.

Their enthusiasm was so contagious that I felt ready to pull it out again and tackle the polishing.

I printed out the novel and have just finished reading it from start to finish with the handy red pen that my writing partner Holly sent. And because I literally haven’t looked at it for about six weeks, my eyes are fresh, which allowed me to catch a few things I hadn’t been able to see when I was deep in the throes of creation.

Believe it or not, this is the first time I’ve actually read it as a “real” book.  Just between me and you, Vi, it was an incredible experience. I felt…in serious awe of myself. I wrote a book! And it’s damned good!

(oh, boy, you’ve no idea how hard it was to say that, having grown up in a serious never-toot-thine-own-horn culture)

Now it’s time for me to get to work reading and analyzing what my test readers had to say.  Stay tuned because there’s sure to be a blog post or two coming out of the experience. 🙂

Posted in Blog Categories, Writing | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments