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re-gifter

 

‘Tis the season of re-gifting.

 

Or, in some cases, re-re-gifting, or maybe just giving the appearance of doing so.

 

Playing “Guess the Gift” is something of a tradition in our family.  When your shopping is being done on budget, and one that is never enough to begin with, most of your shopping is done in search of “The Great Bargain”.

bargain shopping

Bargain shopping typically does not come with the fancy shmancy boxes to wrap the gifts in so the receiver of the gifts can’t guess what it is just from the feel and shape of the wrapped gift.

 

biting the giftThe gift-wrapping challenge begins.  The gift recipients study their gifts carefully, resorting to thoughtfully weighing, sizing up, feeling up, shaking, and even biting, their gifts trying to figure out what they are before unwrapping them.  While you seek out boxes whose dimensions and shape will hide the true nature of the gift inside, stuffing the boxes so items can’t rattle, or even adding a strategically placed fake rattler.

 

re-giftedAnd then the gift opening fun begins.  The wrapping paper is unceremoniously ripped off, or perhaps that is the ceremony, revealing the box within.  And then the joke emerges.  What did you get this year?  I got the Sony radio/cd player I bought myself this past summer, re-gifted something I already owned.   My twelve year old got a Dremel saw, used only once, re-gifted.  My partner got a tissue box, the ultimate in re-gift, since the tissue papers it once held have all been used.  Of course, the boxes are only camouflage for the real present inside.

happy holidays

merry christmashappy hanukkahhappy kwanzaa.jpg

 

 

 

 

… or whatever else you celebrate at this festive time of year.

 

And now my gift to you …

Garden Grove Cover-FinalGarden Grove can be downloaded in multiple ebook formats FREE on Smashwords using coupon code YV67F until Dec 31/15.

 Can you handle a little darkness in your life?

 https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/587705

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newbieI’m pretty new at the publishing game by any successfully published author’s standards.  So far, my publishing credits include a number of flash fiction and short stories published in writing e-zines, one short story in a mystery anthology published by Second Wind Publishing, and a novel also published by Second Wind.  My contribution to publishing them involved writing them, a great deal of editing, and pressing “send” on the email.

While I’ve been writing for years, I’m a publishing newbie and there’s a lot I don’t know.

With the ever-changing landscape of the publishing world, no matter how much any of us learn there will always be more to learn.

Articles discussing the finer points of how to write fill the internet in droves, but there seems to be very little information on the other side of writing – the business side of writing.

The how-to articles on writing better also tend to be a confusing overwhelming glut of opposing opinions.  Do you listen to the blogger who vehemently insists you must mercilessly gut your writing of all of what they consider unnecessary extra words, streamlining it to a tight bare-bones written masterpiece?  Or do you listen to the blogger who just as passionately says that it is the flow and artistic expression of the writing that matters most and that you must not sanitize it by worrying about gutting it of what another might consider extra words?

The truth is that regardless of the area of the writing advice, what you need to follow will probably lie somewhere in the middle.  It can be difficult to decide which advise to follow and when.  Too much contradicting advice can leave you feeling even more confused and uncertain.  The best writers will take the advice to heart and figure out what is best for their self and each particular story.

Writing is entertaining, can help you explore questions and issues in your life, and can be used as an outlet for the unpleasant emotions we as humans tend to bottle up inside.  But if you want to be published, writing is a business too.

While exploring the answers to my own questions it occurred to me that I’m probably not the only one asking these questions.  So, I decided to share my discoveries.

I make no claims to be an expert.  Actually, I definitely am not an expert.

Like a lot of writers, I’m learning as I go.  Mostly from researching online articles from various sources and comparing notes on what they say.

The first rule of thumb with online information is “take it with a grain of salt”.  In other words, never assume the information is accurate and always question the quality of the source.  So with that in mind let us go forth and learn the business together, and be forgiving when I do get something wrong.

Corrections are always welcome.  You can’t learn from your mistakes if you don’t know you made them.

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Ok, I admit it, I’m a comma junkie.  I write mainly by the seat of my pants, my fingers flying across the keyboard and barely (not always) keeping up with the words flowing through my head.  And I can type faster than I can hurriedly scrawl illegible scribbles mimicking words.

.

Apparently I like commas.  I mean I REALLY like commas.  I don’t worry about things like sentence structure, punctuation, and spellings when I write.  Later I’ll get a good laugh at the ridiculous suggestions Spellcheck gives me that often rendered sentences moot.  All that can get fixed in editing after the story is written.

.

I just let the words flow as they will, living in the moment of the story, and trying my best to type fast enough to keep up.

When I go back and edit afterwards, it’s a cornucopia of commas everywhere that I didn’t even know I put in.

Even on the fourth and fifth rounds of editing I still find myself removing excess commas.

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What can possibly be more annoying than getting an unwanted telemarketing call?  Just read on and I’ll tell you.

Apparently there is some unwritten rule that they must happen when you are (a) in the middle of eating supper, (b) in the middle of getting your kids to do something important like bathing, (c) on the toilet or in the shower, or (d) any other time it is entirely inconvenient to drop whatever you’re doing to race for the phone.

 

The Three Annoying Types of Calls:

Generally, we get hit by three main types of calls.

1.            The talks too fast to butt in forcing you to be a rude schmuck and hang up on them calls.

These are the ones who also generally think that any words sounding similar to “No thank you”, “No thanks,” and “I’m not interested” really mean “Oh please please please tell me more.  I’ll just totally die if you don’t go on for another 30 minutes on your products and/or services!”

They also are entirely unable to grasp that “No” means “No” and will try to send or sign you up for crap regardless of how emphatically you say “NO!  NOT!  NO I DON’T WANT YOUR F-ING CRAP!”

And to add that final insult to injury, they take on the injured tone and ask you “Why not?” as if you’d just told someone you don’t want to be their friend after all.

And, of course, some of these are the outright scams like the caller who tells you that they are calling on behalf of your internet provider because your IP address has been used for questionable online activity and you could face legal problems, but its ok because you are probably the victim of a hacker or virus and if you just give them remote access to your computer they can fix it all up (for a fee) …  yeah, and I’m the  Queen of Sheba too and know darn well they could not possibly be trying to both hack me and bill me for doing it too.

 

2.            The dead air calls. 

Yeah, we’ve all had those.  You drop everything, dodge kids and dogs, leap over obstacles of toys and laundry baskets in a mad race to catch the phone … and there’s nobody bloody there!

“Hello?  Hello?” you say, pause and wait.  “Hello?  Is anybody there?”  You pause again, listening for any background sounds, wondering if you just got butt dialed or a friend or relative’s toddler is playing with the phone, or if someone dialed and got distracted.

You half expect to start hearing the laboured heavy breaths of a prank caller or some kid to ask you if your refrigerator is running followed by the warning, “Well then you’d better go catch it.”  Both of which would probably grate my annoyance nerves less than telemarketers intruding into my home via telephone and trying to push crap on me that I don’t want.

And eventually you or they hang up with the sure knowledge burning angrily through you that you just wasted those moments on a freaking telemarketer spam-crank calling you with their automated dialler.

 

3.            The telemarketing machine calling me because I’m not even good enough for a real person call.

Yeah, it’s frustrating and you ask, “What?! I’m not even good enough for a real person to harass and annoy me?!  You have to send a flipping machine to do your dirty work?!”

But they are, at least, the least annoying of the three.  You don’t feel guilty for hanging up on a machine, and you don’t waste time talking to dead air.

 

And then things turn from annoying to ugly.

After days of repeated hang-up dead air telemarketing calls at home – one per night every night at about the same time and all originating from a different long distance number …

… and this despite the fact we are registered on the National Do No Call List

 

I am now getting harassed on my freaking CELL PHONE!

Yep, not only am I now having to drop everything and race to answer the phone (and this is a number that almost nobody has and is used only for calls from immediate family members or for the kids school or daycare to reach me anytime anywhere), but I am now also PAYING PER CALL TO ANSWER AND HANG UP ON A FLIPPING TELEMARKETING AUTO-DIALLING ANSWERING MACHINE!

To top it off, I’m not on an unlimited monthly plan or anything like that.  I’m paying prime $$$ for those handy but expensive per minute pre-paid minutes that are more economical for people like me who rarely use their phone.  And if this keeps up, I’ll have to go buy more minutes because they’re getting used up a telemarketing pre-recorded auto-dialling machine.

You got it!  I’m paying to be annoyed and harassed by a machine spewing out a pre-recorded message!

Silly me, I thought since cell phones cost the consumer money every time they answer it, they were legally off limits to telemarketers calls.

Apparently Air Miles Canada (or so the recording claims to be) has a very important message that I need to spend $$ just to listen to.

I wonder if they get a cut from the cell phone company.

 

 

Anywho, while I have to chose between turning off my cell phone and missing an important call from my kids’ school or daycare or wasting my money hanging up on telemarketing machines, I have added the cell to the do not call registry – for what its worth.

Since they’re calling me at home too and I’ve had that phone on the list for a few years now, I already know the registry only works for the ones who chose to follow the rules.

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How awesome is this?!

I let the kids ride their bikes to daycare this a.m.

Baby wild bunny

 The youngest (7) is just giving it with all she’s got to keep up with the 9 yr old and her bigger bike. (7 yr old’s bike is too small and has very small tires).

 Baby bunny comes racing from a yard, runs right between the 7 yr old’s small bicycle tires, comes back and dodges her again, and runs off.

 Of course, that wasn’t the end of it.  The little bugger came back to sit in the middle of the road.  I had to shoo it off so I wouldn’t risk running it over.

 My awesome 7 yr old didn’t even flinch, and no wipeout.  She managed to avoid hurting both herself and the baby bunny playing a game of tire dodge.

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It’s that special day of the year again, when the kids make their Mom’s breakfast, make her cards, write her poems, and give her hand-crafted gifts.  All gives happily received, especially the one that don’t involve Mom spending hours cleaning up after their creation.

This year was especially nice.

The older daughter’s grade 3 class put on a formal Mothers’ Day tea, complete with white table cloths and fancy table decorations, beautiful décor, a picture together, and a cellist playing as the Mom’s trickled in.

The event held an afternoon of entertainment performed by the kids, songs and poems, and a few video clips.  Each kid got up to say a little speech about their mother:

Mother’s Day Speech

Written by

Sidney Gaudet

“Good afternoon Moms and grandmas.  My name is Sidney and this is the grade 3’s Mother’s day tea.  I am here to talk about my mom.  I am the daughter of Lori.  My mom has long blonde curly hair; she has glasses and gray eyes.  Now I told you what my mom looks like mom can you come up?

In my family there is my beautiful mom, my silly dad, my ANNOYING SISTER and my two smelly cats and me.  My mom works in an office; she is a payroll worker for truck drivers.  What she does is that she pays truck drivers for their work.  At home my mom cleans the house, does the laundry and makes supper.

My mom’s favorite color is purple.  My mom’s favorite actor is Johnny Depp in the Pirates of the Caribbean.  My mom likes to order stead at a restaurant.  My mom likes hollow chocolate.  She does not like when my sister and I fight.  My mom does not like it when my Dad says inappropriate words.

These are the things my mom likes to do in her spare time.  Well, she likes to play on the computer, read, watch TV plus go out.

Can I tell you something funny about my mom?  Once my mom and I went on a tube ride and she almost fell out.  I like it when me and my mom go out together, also when we play together and talk together.  Mom is especially good at games, cookies, reading, making stories, and also being funny.  She is so good at making stories that she was Author of the Month in January.

If I could give my mom anything in the world I would give her a big bouquet of beautiful white daisies with jewels in the middle.  My mom is special because she is always herself and never anyone else.  Also because she is my mom.  I love you mom.”

Presents included a wonderful 8 page card and large silhouette picture on black paper.

And on Mother’s Day:

The 3rd grader gave me another card, bookmark she made herself, and “M” fridge magnet.

The younger daughter also made me a great card and gave me a wonderful fridge magnet picture of herself.

And, last but not least, I have no idea how they got there and managed it, but they also gave me Cuisinart 15-pc. Compact portable blending/chopping system that chops, grinds, crushes ice, and will make some superb smoothie drinks this summer at the camper – along with a gift card for the liquor store to buy ingredients.  Summer, here I come!

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It’s that time of year again when we take a day out of our lives to stop and remember the men and women who made huge sacrifices fighting for others.

Ideally we wouldn’t need a special day to remember.

Ideally there would be no wars to be fought, no blood spilled, and no atrocities inflicted.

Since that isn’t the case, ideally we wouldn’t need a special day to remember because we would remember every day.

But sometimes we need special reminders.  One day a year obviously isn’t enough or we wouldn’t still have men, women, and children suffering at the hands of that terrible monster we call War.

It seems that Remembrance Day has less meaning to each generation.

The legions were started to help war veterans having difficulties fitting back into society after returning home from the First World War.

As more wars followed, the number of veterans grew and so did the need to remember the sacrifices they made as they fought, suffered injuries to both mind and body, and were killed.

But these days it seems the faces of the veterans propagated by the media around Veterans Day are growing older and fewer.

Some might even think the veterans’ organizations and legions will become a thing of the past as the old veterans from WWI and WWII vanish into the distant memories of the history books.

Perhaps that makes it even more important now than ever to remember the men and women who fought for others, for their cause, for their freedom.  It’s more important because the veterans are not a vanishing breed.  On the contrary, wars continue to be fought every day right now and more veterans are returned home injured in mind and body, or for burial, somewhere in the world each and every day.

The veterans of war are not vanishing or dying off; their faces are just becoming unrecognizable to us as new generations of them are created.  They are not just the old grandfathers and grandmothers and great-grandfathers and great-grandmothers.  They are the sisters and brothers, the fathers and mothers, and the sons and daughters.  Their faces are decades younger than the veterans whose faces are splashed across the Veterans Day advertisements and newspaper stories.

And, to the newest generation, as with the newest generation for generations past, Remembrance Day is about having a vacation.  A day off from school with their parents home from work.  A day for learning new songs and poems about stuff they don’t really know with meanings they don’t really understand.

Knowing the importance of it much more than the newest generation does, and seeing how the real meaning is vanishing over generations, I want to make sure my own kids know the significance and the importance.  I try to explain it to them, and I know school does the same, and somewhere along the way they will eventually learn the deeper meaning of it all.  The sooner the better, and maybe one day they can help the world evolve into a new world where war is a thing of the past.

It is not just about remembering that people died for us long ago, it is about remembering everything that war is.  The cruelties and atrocities committed against the innocent.  The loss of life, property, and the indignities forced on others.  How war makes good people do terrible things and bad people do even worst things.  It’s about remembering the victims and the warriors fighting on their behalf.

This year, as my daughters eagerly planned for their day off holiday, I decided it would be a good idea to have them do something to earn that day off, the extra play time, and the extra movie night they wanted.  To earn it by showing me what Remembrance Day is to them.

So, I asked them to write me a story or poem about what they think Remembrance Day is about.

This is what they wrote (for the sake of legibility I typed up what they wrote) …

 

As I’m sure you noticed, the six year old wrote “Happy Remembrance Day” and “Have a Happy Remembrance Day” on her poem.

Now what could possibly be happy about a day dedicated to remembering death and war?

Well, I asked her that.  I asked her what makes a Remembrance Day a day to be happy.

Her answer – “A happy Remembrance Day is when you remember that the soldiers died for you.”

Maybe she has a deeper understanding than I thought possible for a six year old.

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