nichepoetryandprose

poetry and prose about place

Posts Tagged ‘family

writing life,

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This summer I have been taking a break from writing science fiction. I have my next science-fiction book Meniscus: Karst Topography ready to publish so I can take some time to think about other writing projects.

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In 1997, I wrote a long mystery novel. I thought it would be interesting to read it through and see how much my writing style has changed. It has changed a lot, as you will see below. But the story was good and I had spent a decent amount of time on characters, story arcs, and point of view, so I decided to work on the draft.

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The story is titled HHGG (big reveal later in the year) and was 162,500 words. Yikes.

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This is my first draft of an eventual cover blurb …

Kaye Eliot comes to Acadia Creek to spend a quiet summer with her two children. But instead of passing stress-free days of swimming and hiking, she finds herself embedded in mystery after mystery. A missing vagrant and a gang of thieves have the community worried. Neighbours seem determined to occupy all of Kaye’s time and energy in restoration of an old flower garden. Meanwhile, she and her kids have stumbled on a century-old legend of a treasure buried on the property, a packet of old letters and an old map of the garden. And they dig up a sinister sea shell. A sea shell who looks like a grinning skull and who will not stay where he is put. Can Kaye recover her calm or will she be victim of neighbors, vagrants, thieves and a shell called the Grinning Tun?

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the Grinning Tun (about 25 cm or 10 inches across)

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My work on the book has been on several fronts. I have ‘tweeted’ daily about my process  since May 28, 2018 (@TimsJane):

  • Reduce the number of words. I lost a lot of words through editing and style changes. I took out the dream sequences, all the ‘ly’ adverbs, a lot of thinking and feeling, and a raft of ‘that’s. I went from 162,561 words on April 13, 2018 to 148,999 words today on July 15, 2018. It is still a little long but a good read (in my opinion).
  • I did a lot of thinking about whether to keep the setting in 1994 or modernize it to 2018. With some advice, I have decided to keep it in 1994. In fact, the story would not unfold as it does with cell phones and computers at hand. So my characters drive down to the community phone booth almost every day and look for clues in whirring reels of microfiche.
  • Leaving the action in 1994 provided an opportunity to explore the culture of the 1990s. Besides the missing cell phones and computers, people collected Canadian Tire Money, waitresses smoked in restaurants and POGs were a fad among kids. In the summer of 1994, the song ‘I Swear‘ held the Canadian single charts for three weeks and the American charts for seven weeks. Six degrees of Kevin Bacon was a thing. The slang interjection ‘like’ punctuated speaking (still does).
  • Part of the text is in Spanish so I asked my friend Roger Moore to help me proof-read the Spanish text.
  • I spent a lot of time with my Grinning Tun … I bought him on line in 2010. The more you look at it, the more it looks like a skull.
  • I spent a stupid amount of time designing a curlicue for announcing a change in sections. I am glad I did, because this new novel will include ‘Drop caps’ at the beginning of every chapter and said curlicue.

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design

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It will take me a few more weeks to proof the draft. To do this, I order a Proof from CreateSpace and do my edits as a way of passing the time effectively on my stationary cycle. Once I have the Proof, I’ll be able to concentrate on painting the cover for HHGG. This is the rough outlay for the cover, tacked together from various photos …

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HHGG cover (2).jpg

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Now you know everything about HHGG except its title!

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All my best,

Jane 

Written by jane tims

July 18, 2018 at 7:00 am

Green bottles and blue berries

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We have been spending time at our cabin.

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In the window, on our bench, the light flows through green bottles.

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Our paths are green tunnels.

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And in the fields and along the trails are blueberries.

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Lots to pick and eat.

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bitter blue

for Mom

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of all the silvery summer days we spent   none so warm   sun on granite boulders   round blue berry field   miles across hazy miles away from hearing anything but bees

and berries

plopping in the pail

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beside you   I draped my lazy bones on bushes   crushed berries and thick red leaves over moss dark animal trails nudged between rocks berries baking brown   musk rising to meet blue heat

or the still fleet scent

of a waxy berry bell

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melting in my mouth   crammed with fruit   sometimes pulled from laden stems   more often scooped from your pail   full ripe blue pulp and the bitter shock of a hard green berry never ripe

or a shield bug

with frantic legs

and an edge to her shell

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From ‘within easy reach’, Chapel Street Editions, 2016

Previously published in The Amethyst Review 1 (2), Summer 1993

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Copyright 2017 Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

August 16, 2017 at 7:00 am

early schooling – what to do at recess

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When I was young, recess was a big deal. You had to take a treat to eat and something for play. In Grade Three, tops were all the rage. My Dad made me a top from a wooden spool and we painted it in a rainbow of colours. I can still see it spinning on the concrete step. We also played hop-scotch, ball games like Ordinary Secretary, marbles, skipping and tag.

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April 30, 2016 'top made from a wooden spool' Jane Tims

April 30, 2016 ‘top made from a wooden spool’ Jane Tims

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I am lucky to have some of my Dad’s writing about his early years and his experiences in a one room school. He went to the Weaver Settlement School in Digby County in Nova Scotia in the late 1920s and early 1930s. He tells about some of the activities at the school, especially at recess. Fishing was popular, as well as playing ball and trading jack knives.

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… There was a well out beside the school and it was a good appointment to take care of the water-cooler for a day of a week … Gave a student time off from books…

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… There was a brook nearby … In fall we usually built a dam so the brook became a pond for winter … A place to skate or just play on the ice …every moment of recess and noon was spent there …

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… The big contest was ‘who comes to school first in bare feet ’ … Our parents had control, not full control as there were hiding places for shoes and stockings along the way to school …

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Dad as a boy holding horse

Dad with the family horse Goldie in about 1930

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I am certain recess is still a favorite time for school kids – time to talk with friends, play games and get a little break from the classroom. I think we could all build a little ‘recess’ into our busy lives!

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Copyright 2016 Jane Tims

 

 

in the shelter of the covered bridge – the Canal Bridge twenty three years later

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Last Friday we drove to see three covered bridges in Charlotte County, New Brunswick – Canal Covered Bridge, McCann Bridge (Digdeguash River #4) and McGuire Bridge (Digdeguash River #3).  My husband, son and I visited two of these in 1992 as part of a project for Canada’s 125th anniversary (see

https://nichepoetryandprose.wordpress.com/2011/09/05/inside-the-covered-bridge/  ).

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Canal Bridge, Charlotte County, New Brunswick, August 2015

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The Canal Bridge was built in 1917. It crosses the deep natural canal connecting Lake Utopia with the Magaguadavic River.

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The Canal is wide and sinuous, unhurried in its flow …

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The water is very low this time of year. The shallow areas are inhabited by water lilies, water shield and pickerel weed …

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Many people have left their initials and messages inside this bridge …

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My husband couldn’t remember if we had visited the Canal Bridge in 1992. But almost immediately he found a small set of initials in black on a board heavily marked by red paint.

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To me, very familiar initials! Back in May of 1992, we had left evidence of our visit. A very emotional experience, seeing our initials more than 23 years later! It was hard to go, knowing I was leaving behind a little bit of my family history.

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Copyright 2015 Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

August 24, 2015 at 7:06 am

a stack of post cards

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Saturday, for me, is genealogy day.  I am interested in the history of my family and I have a lot of boxes of information to sort through.  If I don’t spend a dedicated time to the study of the items in those boxes, the work will never get done.  And, I want to try and get my value from the small fee I pay each month to www.ancestry.ca .

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Over the last few Saturdays, I have been studying a small stack of post cards sent to my grandmother (Katie Clark) from 1906 to 1910.  There are 174 post cards in the collection.  The post cards are one record of her travels to the United States where she was studying to become a nurse.

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Born in Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia in 1890, Katie Clark was raised on a farm with her brother and four sisters.  When she graduated from High School, she went to Boston to become a nurse.  She was joining her sister Anne who had started her nursing program there the year before.

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Katie Clark in her nursing uniform

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Katie Clark, my grandmother

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Travel from the Maritimes to Boston and other cities along the Eastern Seaboard was common in the early 1900s and was usually by train.  Nursing was a relatively new type of professional work for women and men.  Professional nursing had been established in the 1860s largely as a result of the efforts of Florence Nightingale and others.  By the turn of the century, many nursing schools were established in both the United States and Canada.

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Katie went to school in Newton Lower Falls, on the outskirts of Boston.  She studied with two of her sisters (Anne and Laura) and a small group of women and men who became her friends. Katie’s photos show sliding parties and sports activities.

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Photos of winter sledding in Newton Lower Falls from Katie’s photo album (Katie is third from the right in the lower, right photo)

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Photo from Katie’s album of the school’s women’s basketball team (Katie is fifth from the right in the top row; her sister Anne is second from the right in the seated second row from the front)

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Post cards were one way friends and families could stay in touch.  The post cards show that cards were mailed even within the same community and sometimes at the rate of two or three a day.  The messages on Katie’s post cards often mention getting or sending letters and often ask Katie to send a post card, soon.

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The post cards are mostly scenic in theme.  There are also a large number of comedic post cards …

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The card on the left pokes fun at Mother-in-laws (1910) ; the post card on the right is one of many scenic views, this one of the ‘flower pot’ formations near Alma, New Brunswick (1907).

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There are also post cards with seasonal themes, for Christmas, Easter, New Years Day and Valentines Day …

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One of Katie’s post cards with a Christmas theme (1907)

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A few of the post cards are blank, without stamp, post mark, address or message.  Perhaps these were delivered to Katie in person as a contribution towards her post card collection.  Sometimes the address is the only handwriting on the card.  Usually, however, the sender included a brief message to Katie, written in a special space on the back of the card.  In some cases the message was written upside-down, or in various blank spaces on both front and back of the card.

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A post card with a New Year’s message (1909)

 

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The back of the New Year’s post card with a message and a stamp affixed upside-down ! (1909)

 

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The information on these cards goes beyond the written message.  The cards are a record of where Katie was living at various times during the five year period.  The post marks and an occasional return address indicate where Katie’s friends were living.  The messages contain common expressions of the times.  The post card themes tell what subjects interested people and the comedic cards show what people thought funny.  And the stamps on the cards are a study of their own.

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In future posts, I’ll have a look at some of the information contained in my grandmother’s stack of post cards.

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Copyright  2015  Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

February 9, 2015 at 7:42 am

remembering place – Grade Four, part one

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School-wise, Grade 4 was a fragmented year.  I began the year in Medicine Hat at Webster Niblock Elementary.  And then my family moved to a new community forty miles away, and I completed Grade 4 in the school there.

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Webster Niblock Elementary School front yard

Webster Niblock Elementary School front yard

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I have lots of memories of Webster Niblock.  First, there was the walk to school (red path in the aerial photo below).  On one side of the road were houses, but on the other side of the road was prairie.  Today there is a row of houses on that side of the street, but in 1963 the prairie was undeveloped and raw to its very edge.  I was not allowed to wander on the prairie by myself, or to take a shortcut to school.  Later my Dad told me he was always afraid of rattle snakes when we lived in the west.  But I could see the plants that grew at the roadside.

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my route from home to school

my route from home to school

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I still remember the orange-red Prairie Mallow, also known as Scarlett Globemallow (Sphaeralcia coccinea), and the Prickly-pear cactus (Opuntia) with its grape-like berries.  At the corner where I turned from Second Avenue to 11th Street (blue star) was an expanse of pineapple weed (Matricaria Discoidea) – I don’t remember picking or smelling them … to me, they looked like a miniature forest of pine where tiny people could walk.  I think my interest in plants must have begun during those years, encouraged by my Mom who knew the names of all the flowers.

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'Pineapple Weed'

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I also remember specific conversations with my best friend Laureen as we walked to school, including the disagreements we had.  I remember that we talked about my moving away.  We decided we would write letters to one another and we laughed that we would probably carry on our childish fights in those letters.

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Another place I remember well is the ‘courtyard’ where we played at morning and afternoon recess (yellow star).  Spinning tops were all the rage and my Dad made me a wooden top from an empty spool of thread and a matchstick.  We also played marbles and I always lost.

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It was common practice to bring a ‘recess’, a treat to eat at the morning recess break.  My Mom usually sent a small square of fudge wrapped in wax paper or part of an apple.  When a new little girl joined our class, my Mom, who wanted me to make friends, was determined I would be nice to her.  Every day Mom sent a ‘recess’ treat for the little girl.  And every day, I would run up to her, shove the treat into her hand and run away.  I was generally shy and I don’t ever remember of saying a word to her.  I often think about her – today she is a woman of about sixty years who may, from time to time, remember a peculiar child who used to bring her a square of fudge every day and run away.

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Webster Niblock Elementary School rear yard

Webster Niblock Elementary School rear yard (we played with tops in the area by the red post at the corner of the school)

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Copyright  2014  Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

August 11, 2014 at 7:19 am

remembering place – Grade Three

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Grade Three, for me, is 52 years ago.  Therefore, I am not surprised how little I remember of that year.   I can only name two other students in the Grade Three class photo!

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I do remember my teacher, Miss Heather Johnson, a kind gentle teacher, always smiling.  I also remember her because as a high school student she was taught by my father who was also a teacher.

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Miss Johnson's Grade Three class, Crescent Heights Elementary School (I am in the back row, seventh from the left)

Miss Johnson’s Grade Three class, Crescent Heights Elementary School (I am in the back row, seventh from the left)

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My only real memory of Grade Three is of my Dad.  I remember him joking with me as he studied my Report Card.  I always had good reports, and this time I had a whole row of ‘H’s (H was the best grade possible).  I can hear him booming in his deep voice ‘I thought ‘H’ stood for Horrible!’

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Crescent Heights High School - once Crescent Heights Elementary School (the school is barely recognisable, there have been so many additions; when I went there, the school was a long low brick building)

Crescent Heights High School – once Crescent Heights Elementary School (the school is barely recognisable, there have been so many additions; when I went there, the school was a long low brick building)

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Copyright  2014  Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

August 6, 2014 at 7:35 am

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