Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Seven days since the crack on the head and finally, finally, I can chew a bagel without wincing. Have been rather distracted over the past few days due to the Western Book Reps Book Fair (or whatever the event is called...) The schedule was pretty brutal for a few days there... Monday and Tuesday started with author breakfasts commencing at 7:15AM!!!! (what are these people thinking??? Authors are not conscious that early... I'm certainly not conscious that early...). Then, spent hours cruising the publisher/book rep tables in search of cool new titles and, after staggering home with bags full of ARCs (Advance Reading Copies) and all kinds of publisher promo items to give away at various bookstore events, we had to do things like feast and dance late into the night at the annual dinner/dance hosted by Bolen Books at the Union Club. Despite the hideous hour, it is always great to get a chance to hear authors speak at the breakfasts - highlights included Dean Griffiths and Troy Wilson dressed in superhero costumes, witty presentations by Susan Juby and M.A.C. Farrant, and being introduced to several new authors (well, new to me...)

Last night was the February meeting of the teen book club at the bookstore (this month's selection was ENDER'S GAME), so by the time I arrived home, brought the horses in, and hit the sack, I was more than ready for a good night's sleep!

Saturday, February 07, 2004

After so long being distracted, busy adjusting to life as a caregiver, scrambling to find sufficient income to feed the nags, etc., it feels unspeakably marvelous to be back at work on Tarragon #3. Wrote a couple of pages yesterday and about to type/edit another section now. Still feeling blissfully happy to be alive. Jaw healing remarkably quickly - still can't chew anything too solid, but the swelling almost completely gone and I can now force my teeth together.

Spent a little time today (after an embarrassingly late sleeping-in session - wow - haven't slept this much since I was a teenager! nothing like a knock on the head to cure insomnia!) transferring several hundred photos of the Great Nevada Adventure from various CDs to my new, bigger, now-not-so-empty hard-drive. That was such a cool trip! I can hardly believe that we actually did it... I mean, what was I thinking????
Here she is... the mad, mad mare of Saanich (seen here a few days after I bought her in Nevada...)

Exact location: Sand Mountain.

Thursday, February 05, 2004

There is nothing quite like a near-death experience to make the grass look a little greener... Yesterday, thinking we should take advantage of a glorious spring day, sunshine, mild breeze, the whole bit, Dani suggested we go out for a trail ride. I jumped at the chance, of course, as I don't get to do a whole lot of riding. So, off we went, me on Breezy, Dani on Tony. We cut down to the trail through a neighbour's place, but took a route that still required a stretch alongside a busy road.

On the way back, we decided to explore another option - a short-cut through a different field that would eliminate all road travel. Ironic, then, that this effort to find a safer way home nearly killed me!

To get to the field from the trail (the Lochside Trail, just north of Sayward Road, in case anyone knows the Saanich Peninsula), we had to navigate a fairly steep bank, cross a shallow/narrow creek, and go up a low bank on the other side. After Dani snapped off branches from bushes and trees growing on the bank, she was able to lead Tony down fairly easily, travelling at a bit of an angle so the horses didn't have to go straight down. Though Tony wasn't overly impressed and Dani got her feet a bit wet, he followed calmly and emerged into the field completely unscathed, interested mostly in snatching a bit of grass while waiting for Breezy to follow.

Poor Breezy, being a beast of the desert, has a few issues with water, and though there was a perfectly clear way down the bank, she decided that there was no way she was going to descend to the bottom where, heaven forbid, she would get her feet wet. She wound up defying gravity and her aging hocks and traversed the steep bank sideways, doing wild-eyed sidepasses through uncleared brush and saplings. Seeing there was going to be trouble, I leaped over the creek and, still holding the reins, tried to encourage her to move forward, into the water.

Mistake! Breezy took my encouragement as an invitation to leap into my arms! Have you every tried to catch a 1220 lb bundle of wild-eyed terror? Nasty. The last thing I saw was this wall of white chest coming at me like a hairy avalanche and then my head became the filling in a horse/tree-trunk sandwich. A sickening cracking/crushing sound echoed in my skull. Excruciating pain shot through my jaw and then I found myself being tossed backwards into a low fork in the tree.

Somewhere in this process I let go of the reins and Breezy plunged through the creek and out into the field where Dani grabbed her and came back to the creek to see what had happed to me. All she could see were my boot soles hanging over the tree fork. She said it looked like I had been dropped out of the sky and she couldn't imagine how I had wound up hanging upside down in the tree.

Meanwhile, I was doing an inventory of damage. Neck seemed to be ok. Arms and legs were working fine. I could breathe. I was pretty sure that judging by the noise, I had shattered my skull, so I was a little surprised I was actually able to do such a calm body-damage check. The pain in my jaw was astounding and I decided that despite my wooziness and nausea, that was likely the worst area of trouble. This decided, I reassured Dani that there was no need to call an ambulance, and extricated myself from the tree (slowly!).

By this time, Breezy had got a little dancy, so I decided that given my unsteadiness and the distance left to walk home, I would be safer on board, hanging onto the saddle horn. To Dani's horror, on I climbed and we made our way home. Dani, bless her heart, scurried around and put the horses away, fed them, threw the tack into the tack room and then took me to the hospital where I was met with many, many versions of "Wow - you are lucky to be alive!" and "You should have been a major head trauma case!" As it turns out, the shattering sound was my riding helmet, not my skull... and despite amazing swelling and bruising, and some superficial cuts caused by the helmet buckle, all the damage to my jaw was to soft tissue. 48 hours from now my teeth on the left side should once again meet up and I'll be back to crunching my way through even the crispiest of potato chips!

Monday, February 02, 2004

Just arrived home from one of the many fabulous films playing this week at the Greater Victoria Independent Film Festival. Saw Ham and Cheese the other night, How to Be a Model tonight, and tomorrow have tickets to the one about the parking meter dudes. True confession: I really, really want to work in film. Documentary. Mocumentary. Feature (drama/comedy). You name it, I'd love to give it a try. Doing what? Well, flexible on that front, too. Acting. Directing. Writing. Making sandwiches for the people who actually know how to make movies. I'm not fussy. So, there you have it... my little secret.
You know, it is a miracle that I ever manage to finish a book. Just look at the state of this blog!!!! (Notice a theme here?) Actually, part of the problem is that blogs don't come with built-in deadlines. Though, that is only part of the problem.

Fact is, have had a dreadful year - starting at about last Christmas (2002) when my mother drove her car off the road (see photos posted a few entries back). This was the beginning of a very, very stressful series of events that lead to her eventual diagnosis of suffering from Pick's Disease.

This is a rare type of dementia that strikes people far too young and causes all sorts of strange personality changes and behaviour problems. Needless to say, I've been rather distracted! So distracted, in fact, that both my current book projects have been delayed (the new Tarragon Island book and the sequel to Jo's Triumph). While pulling back a bit on my usually intense writing schedule was fine as a short-term solution while my father and I shifted gears into caretaker mode, January marked the beginning of my new, revised writing schedule.

With any luck, I'll be able to get both manuscripts done before the summer arrives.

Meanwhile, over at Annick Press, Grandparents' Day is cruising along toward completion. Though this is officially a Fall, 2004 release, I should have advance mock-ups in hand later on this spring. I am really excited about seeing the finished illustrations by Benoit Laverdiere, a talented (if quirky) artist from Quebec.