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The aquarium is much more than a tourist attraction or a place to visit on a lazy Sunday afternoon

Vancouver Aquarium - preservation & education Vancouver Aquarium - preservation & education Vancouver Aquarium - preservation & education

Vancouver Aquarium - preservation & education

 

 

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Yes, we tried some and, yes, they did taste like cucumber–with a dash of chili.

Only in Mexico - cucumber candy

Ingredients:

corn syrup, sugar, water, gelatin, citric acid, modified startch, natural flavours, lactic glycerin, red, yellow, and blue food colouring.

Each package contains 3 grams of protein and 26 grams of sugar.

http://www.darlenejonesauthor.com

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Now that the festivities are behind us, we’re ready to while away the evenings with a good book so head over to your favorite online bookstore and load up your ereader with these.

Ready to Read?

For a little Mystery, join Brittany: Her dream was to go to university. Instead she’s working in a nursing home hunting a killer. (When the Sun was Mine)

Mystery and adventure are yours when you embark on a wild trek across the Sahara as Sidu tries to escape his fate: The old lady is dead, but she could still destroy him. (Whispers Under the Baobab)

to learn more about Brittany, old lady Flo, and Sidu:  click HERE

Or, if Science Fiction is more to your liking, check out the Em and Yves series.

Book One: Em –  Gifted with superpowers she can’t refuse, her life spirals out of control.

Book Two: Jaz –  She’s crazy to build her life on childhood visions, but …

Book Three: Abby – Controlled by an Alien, Abby must decide if he’s real before she loses her sanity.

Book Four: Emily – Inexplicably drawn to the man stalking her, she knows she needs help.

to learn more about the alien who has taken over their lives click HERE

And click HERE  for a bit of humor in Mali to Mexico and Points In Between

 

http://www.darlenejonesauthor.com

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I’ve been through this before. The flurry of publishing a novel, announcing the launch, marketing….

It’s not writer’s block, it’s writer’s blackout.It’s not writer’s block, it’s writer’s blackout.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And then? The crash. You’re done, burned out, ready for a break. This stage lasts about two days and you’re antsy to start on another story. But what if you have no ideas at the moment? You fret and worry and the more you reach for an idea, the more elusive it becomes.

That’s when you launch into major cleaning, declutter the house, become obsessed with social media and spend many too many hours on the Internet.

And suddenly, when you least expect it your brain clicks on “an old lady in a nursing home and a young girl just out of high school, who desperately wants to go to university, but can’t afford it. What if the two…?”

Where did that germ of an idea come from?

For the life of me, I can’t remember, but it grew into a two-novel-set of mystery, adventure, and romance—Alzheimer’s, a reporter fleeing across the Sahara, a son and daughter-in-law trying to decode a mother’s notes, a man waiting  to be caught and tried, and the young girl trying to save him….

I’m ready to write, but again I’m wallowing in writer blackout—no ideas, none, zilch.  What to do? Clean, declutter the house, spend many too many hours on the Internet, go to Mexico for Christmas and wait. Something will pop up. Of that I am certain. Meanwhile, I have time to relax and read, read, read.

P.S. Currently I’m reading the amazing, brilliantly written Welcome to Lagos by Chibunda Onuzo.

It’s not writer’s block, it’s writer’s blackout.

http://www.darlenejonesauthor.com

 

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Uzo and I discuss the flood that forced him out of his house. I sympathize with his predicament and comment that I have some understanding of living in rough conditions.

When I was a child we lived on a farm in Saskatchewan—no electricity and no running water. In the warm weather my dad lowered pails with butter and cream and milk down the well to just above water level and that acted as a fridge, but no freezer of course so vegetables, fruits, meat and chicken had to be canned.

Our house was very small – 2 rooms and we had to fight the cold in winter. Water came from a well and my mother melted snow in big pots on the stove to do laundry and wash dishes and bath us. If she hung clothes on the line to dry on a not quite so cold day, she warned us not to go near them as they could freeze and would break if we touched them.

How do you explain a Canadian winter to your Nigerian friend?

I send him a couple of pictures explaining that in the first picture you see my sister and me. The building behind us is the barn. It was much bigger than our house. In the second picture you can see the ice that has formed on the horses’ nose. His breath has frozen from the cold. My dad pumped water from the well for the horses into a big water trough. In the winter the water in the trough froze and he had to chop a hole in it so that the horses and cattle could drink.

I comment that when our Malian friend came to visit one winter, he spent the whole time on the floor in front of our fireplace.

Uzo replies,

LOL! I probably would have done the same thing—add as much logs as I can to the fire. And yes, I think I remember Raymond. You mentioned him in your book, Mali to Mexico and Points in Between, right?  So, do you guys drink more tea/coffee (depending on the consumer’s preference) during winter?

I tell him that I don’t drink either and I don’t think people drink more, but they do add hot chocolate when it’s cold.

You gave a vivid description of what winter feels like. I used to think it’s a little easier for white people to move about during this time of the year considering the texture of their hair, but it appears I am wrong. 

Our hair does nothing to protect us from the cold and we need to wear many layers of clothing in the worst of winter. We live in Victoria now and don’t usually get any snow at all and it’s not very cold here especially compared to the prairies where we used to live.

Is it okay to skate on the ice?

Yes. In fact we did that with our children when they were little and we went to the Rocky Mountains. The ice was several feet thick and clear so we could see through it to the water below. Also there was a stream near our house and one winter it froze before the snow started so we could skate on it. Sometimes people go out on thin ice and do fall through.

 Is there any place in Canada that is mostly cold like Alaska? 

Up north for sure – don’t forget Canada extends to the Arctic.

Now I’m having second thoughts about walking on snow, LOL.

I think you would enjoy the experience—once!!

 

 

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The things we take for granted

“I can relate with your excitement as a child when you and the rest of your family moved to Edmonton—and my goodness, your story gave me a good laugh,” Uzo writes. (I was 9 when we moved and I had told Uzo that I was so fascinated with the flush toilet that I got up several times to use it until my mother finally told me to get back to bed and stay there.)

“The day I left Mambilla plateau,” he adds, “I was so eager to browse the Internet, to watch TV, and to enjoy other modern conveniences. That night in Jalingo, the capital of Taraba, I couldn’t sleep; even as an adult, I was so excited about just everything. Everything looked new. I remember I did stare at the bulb in my room from time to time, praying it stayed that way—that it continued to shine its yellow light (the country’s electricity generation has barely improved since then).”

How lucky we are to have power we can count on.

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Halloween update - a new tradition

Our munchkin goes to a Montessori school which holds a special event on October 31 each year called

“Historical Halloween.”

Each child chooses to play a character and prepares a report to be presented to the class. The characters range from Henry Ford, to Jimi Hendrix, to one of the Brothers Grimm, to the first Canadian  woman, Agnes Macphail , elected to The House of Commons in 1921.

In grade 1 the munchkin was Frida Kahlo, grade 2 Jane Goodall, and this year Juana Ines de la Cruz.

Here’s her report:

Hi, my name is Juana Ines de la Cruz. I was born in 1651 and lived during Mexico’s colonial period. My family was poor but well educated.

I was very curious child and taught myself to read by age 3. I read all 3000 of the books in my grandfather’s library. I loved poetry and languages. I learned to speak Latin fluently in just 20 lessons.

I left home to live with my aunt in Mexico City at a young age. There I became famous in the royal court because of my wit, my intelligence and beauty.

Because I was so popular, everyone expected me to marry, but I chose to become a nun. When people asked me why, I said, it was the only place where I could continue my studies. Once safely in the convent I immersed myself in the study of theology, science, history, music, and literature. I wrote to poets and scholars of the time and began to write my own poetry.

My writing is still studied and continues to inspire others and I am on the 200 peso bill.

http://www.darlenejonesauthor.com

 

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The Travelling Wedding Dress

 

A while back I wrote about sorting through my photos. Of course I found wedding pictures and seeing them brought this to mind.

Mom: When do you want to go shopping for your wedding dress?

Me: I’m going to wear yours.

Mom: You’ve been saying that since you were a little girl, but are you sure you really want to?

We dig the dress out from the back of the closet. Ivory satin with a row of tiny buttons down that back that I love now as much as I did when I was a kid. I breathe a sigh of relief when I see that none of the buttons are missing. As the satin was never pure white, the slightly yellowed look is not a deterrent to wearing the dress.

I try it on. The hem needs to be straightened, but otherwise it feels fine. We shop for shoes and a veil to go with the dress and find both easily enough.

My wedding day is on what would have been my parents’ 25th anniversary if my father hadn’t died the year before. A tough day for us—especially for my mother; but we get through it and I hope that the hugs and good cheer can lighten, for a while at least, my mother’s load of grief.

The Travelling Wedding Dress

 

A number of years later I’m asked to model “our” wedding dress in a charity fashion show. As we gather backstage, I find a woman about my mother’s age wearing her dress which is identical to mine.

“My mother bought her dress in Yorkton, Saskatchewan,” I tell her, “just after the war. She said she had two choices and said that neither fit properly, but she liked this one best.”

The lady nods knowingly. “I bought mine in Calgary, Alberta in 1945 and this was the only choice. Luckily it fit me reasonably well.”

I feel a kinship to this stranger as we model on the catwalk together and marvel at circumstances that brought us together.

The dress still hangs in the back of my closet with all our memories firmly attached. My daughter didn’t wear it, but perhaps one day my granddaughter will and my and my mother’s spirits will walk down the aisle with her.

http://www.darlenjonesauthor.com