Marsha Canham's Blog

November 30, 2010

Tangential Thoughts

Filed under: Caesars Through the Fence — marshacanham @ 4:24 pm

Firstly, thank you to everyone who showed up at the birthday bash Saturday night.  I was a bit leery when the DIL suggested having it at the Center, rather than at a house, but it turned out fabulous.  Everyone had fun, I hope, and I was worried there for a while there wouldn’t be enough tables!!!!  Friends are what you build your life around. Without them, you just wander from day to day without a smile or a laugh or a tear.  I’m blessed to have some friends who have stuck by my side for 40 years, others for 30 years, others for 20 years, others for 10, and some I’ve only just welcomed into my life, but I’m thankful for each and every one of them. Relatives, of course, don’t count.  We’re stuck with each other LOL. Cousins, nephews, nieces… it was great to have them all gathered in the same place at the same time!

As for immediate family, I couldn’t be prouder of my son, my daughter in law, my adopted son and adopted daughter in law.  The three grandchildren light up my life every day.  Thank you just for being who you are.


November 26, 2010

The Wind and the Sea

Filed under: Caesars Through the Fence — marshacanham @ 10:33 pm

Back in 1984, I had two books under my belt..China Rose and Bound by the Heart.  CR had a smidgen to do with the sea, the main character being the captain of a ship, tousled hair, hunky chest the whole piratical thing going on…

Then came Bound by the Heart, and I was pushing a little farther into the whole *immerse yourself in research for six months and put the rest of your life on hold*.  But there was Captain Morgan Wade, and a lot of the action took place on the sea, I wrote my first full fledged sea battle and got most of the terminology right enough that people thought I was an experienced sailor *SNORT*

I get seasick in a hot tub.

However…my first crush, my first real heroic type character was Errol Flynn and I just loved the way he vamped his way through Captain Blood and the Sea Hawks.  He dazzled me to the tips of my toes, and is probably why I still felt I hadn’t done justice to a real swashbuckling romance.

So there I was, reading the paper, or reading something, and a phrase jumped out at me   “..the wind and the sea…”.  I mean, it jumped.  I stared at it and saw it all…sea battles and tall ships and sails curved into the wind.  It was the first time I wrote a book based on a title, and the result, all 531 printed pages was one of my most favorite, fun, and frustrating books to write.  Fun, because it was a swashbuckler and I could hear Errol hooting in the background.  Favorite…because it was the first book where I felt confident enough to write a heroine that went against all the current trends at the time.  She didn’t whine or whimper. She had short hair and small boobs.  She didn’t swoon.  She was handy with a gun and a knife and a sword and a cannon, and it was a challenge to create a man strong enough to handle her.

It was also frustrating with a capital F, because my good buddy, Diane Kelly, who was my sounding board at the time, kept reading chapters as I wrote them and telling me what she *thought* was going to happen next.  So naturally I had to make sure that didn’t happen.  The result was killing off a whole lot of people who *could have* and *should have* been the villain while leading readers down a false path so they would expect it was one person, while it was really another.  Yupper.  I was past deadline, had 95% of the book written, and still didn’t know who the ultimate villain was going to be.  I kept stalling the editor, she kept tapping her fingers, I stalled, she tapped…

When it finally found it’s way into print, I was totally ecstatic over the reception it got.  Romantic Times made up a new catagory for an award… Swashbuckler of the Year.  Affair de Coeur gave it a golden pen award, and it even won an award for being the best-selling romance in Canada that year.  I was on a cloud!

Until the publisher went bankrupt, that is.

Yup. Belly up for Paperjacks two years later.  It took The Wind and the Sea down into the watery grave with it, along with the first edition of The Pride of Lions.  POL, because it had a sequel and because Scottish Romances became scorching hot over the next few years, was eventually reprinted by Dell.  But TWATS…no such luck.  Not even when I went against the grain again and wrote another pirate romance, despite being told “pirate romances don’t sell”  Across A Moonlit Sea restored my faith in my ability to swash and buckle, as did the sequel, The Iron Rose, which was voted one of the seven best FICTION books that year by Publisher’s Weekly.  Not just romance books, but FICTION books.

And still no one was interested in reprinting my Wind and the Sea.  Not even after Pirates of the Caribbean came out…all three movies…nope. “Pirate romances don’t sell”  They should record it in voice mail.  Blah.

However, thanks to a little buzz in my ear from Julie Ortolon, who got the whole BacklistEBooks ball rolling, The Wind and the Sea does indeed have a second life.  It took six weeks of reading it through, editing out some hokey language, doing some gentle revisions, proofreading it again, formatting it, making a spiffy new cover….but it’s up and I’m all proud of it again.

I hope some people might remember it and maybe even give it a second read.  I added an epilogue, which struck me as being lacking in the first version.  And I fell in love with the characters all over again…which got me thinking about The Iron Rose…and that unwritten story about the Dante brothers…


November 18, 2010

My last day of being 59

Filed under: Caesars Through the Fence — marshacanham @ 2:12 pm

OMG, it gives me the willies just typing the heading.  But there you have it.  Tonight at midnight I cross over the brink, although as my massage therapist says (He happens to cross the brink on Saturday, one day after me) sixty is the new forty.  Right.  Notice only sixty-year-olds say that.

So I sort of got sidetracked yesterday, which would have been Sharon day.  The big move NORTH to the teeny little hamlet of Sharon.  What were the chances of finding a third great neighbourhood after having lived in two of the very best?  Well…as it turned out…pretty damned good.  Being the first ones to actually move onto the street we got to meet everyone as they moved in, sort of the local welcome wagon, with shades of June Cleaver thrown in.  We bonded closely with two couples in particular, shared a lot of laughs, a lot of barbques, a lot of parties.  One evening in particular we sat out the back, on a warm summer evening, and watched a spiffy new travelling sprinkler crawl around the yard for three hours, having a blast doing it.

One of those couples, Mork and Mindy, have since moved out West…really West, to Calgary.  The other couple moved North…really North, to Georgian Bay, and, as luck would have it, a year after they both moved away, my dear hubby was ejected from the house after 37 years of marriage.  In hindsight, it was a great ejection, with clothes flying over the railing amidst clouds of blue-tinged language.  From the time I confronted him with emails wherein it was revealed he had been enjoying a five year affair with an ex neighbour from Noake….it took approximately a half hour to hurl all of his clothing out onto the front porch, snatch his keys and credit cards, and slam the door on that installment of my life.  Thirteen months later, I had my final divorce papers clutched in hand, stamped sealed and registered.  Of course he said he was sorry, but as the song says, he wasn’t really sorry…he was just sorry he got caught.  Of course he wanted to come back and did some nice begging, and maybe…maybe…had it been a weekend fling with a stranger, or even a couple of weeks with someone from his office…I could have accepted the grovelling and the promises and given him a second chance.  Maybe.  But five years?  And with a best friend that I trusted like a sister?  Faugh.  Gone.  Out.  From that day forth he has been referred to as Stupid F**k…or just Stupid for short, because man, was he stupid.  I really don’t understand men (or women for that matter) who decide they aren’t happy in a marriage and instead of just sitting down with their spouse and talking about it, they unzip their pants and hump in the back seat of a car somewhere.  Fun. Wow.  If you’re not happy, humping someone else isn’t going to make you any happier, or, when you get caught, make it any easier when a whole world of hurt comes crashing down around your ears.

Frankly, all through the Eden Pit years and the North Noake years and the Sharon years…I never pictured for a single, solitary moment that I would be living alone with two dogs and six birds on the eve of my 60th birthday.  Thank goodness my son is only 8 min down the road, because he and the DIL show up at the drop of a pin if I need them, as do my adopted SIL and DIL.  The grandkids are here all the time, filling the house with their own particular brand of chaos, so that’s good too.  There are still the quiet times, when I can’t sleep and I can only think and wonder and question myself, question what went wrong, and why I didn’t see it…me, who is usually so quick to spot trouble with other couples.  But to his credit, he fooled everyone.  Not a single one of our friends suspected a thing and they were all as shocked as me.  Some, to this rainy day 18 months after the apocalypse, feel so betrayed they can’t even talk about it.  One friend almost slapped him across the face at a funeral.  The irony in all of this is that he’s alone too.  His little piece of skank dropped him like a hot potato, and moved on to another fool with unzipped trousers. He’s renting a room off the only person who would take him in…someone who didn’t know me at all, and that’s probably a good thing.  I kept a day to day journal of all the events as they unfolded, mostly for the benefit of my lawyer, and I’m tempted to write a how to book:  How to Lose 190lbs Overnight.  It’s one diet plan that definitely works and shows results right away *snort*

November 17, 2010

An unexpected detour into the dance world.

Filed under: Uncategorized — marshacanham @ 2:08 pm
    I was thinking about what to add for my next installment on the countdown, and happened across a post from a good friend stating how unhappy, pissed off, angry, furious she was that Bristol Palin didn’t get kicked off Dancing with the Stars last night.  She ranted that Brandy should have made it and that the show was fixed….nothing that hasn’t been said before by other people.  I’ve kept quiet (I know, gasp gasp) because I have held the opposite opinion and frankly, I’m glad Bristol made it into the final, and I’ve even voted for her via the internet. Several times.I happen to be of the camp that I’m disgusted they let professional dancers on the show, like the pussycat doll who won last year. I didn’t hear anyone complaining about that. The show is supposed to be about non-dancers teaming up with pro dancers to learn how to dance and see who can emerge the best of the lot. It happened in season two with that sports guy, can’t remember his name, and everyone was all happy happy because no one could have predicted he would win, he couldn’t even follow the steps on the first night. Happened with the gymnast two seasons ago and everyone was happy happy. At the beginning of this season, even I scoffed and initially questioned the reasoning behind inviting Bristol Palin to be one of the contestants.  She couldn’t dance, couldn’t perform in front a crowd, had no acting talent, which is a huge part of portraying the emotions in some of the dances…but then I thought about it and duh.  Isn’t that what the show is all about?  Okay, she isn’t a “celebrity”  but then neither was Steve Whatzizname from the software company.

    She also isn’t her mother. We’re not watching Sarah Palin dance or Sarah Palin try to get votes. If the stumbling block is her having a child at 17, well okay, shit happens. Kids make mistakes, they get pregnant and have kids when they shouldn’t, so just because she has a famous mother, do we crucify this kid more than any other kid who makes the same mistake? Every season there has been someone controversial thrown into the mix, undoubtedly for that reason, the controversy. There was Steve Whatzizname, there was that idiot with the 8 kids last season, that stupid big  rap singer one year who had a hissy fit and wouldn’t even wear the right shoes. So okay, this year they chose Bristol Palin for the *huh* factor, but you know what? She didn’t play on her “celebrity” status, such as it was. She didn’t throw hissy fits and threaten to walk off the show because people didn’t understand her and had no sympathy. She left her baby behind for four months (think of your own sons and daughters and ask yourself if they would do that) she didn’t even fly down, she drove a truck. She showed up every day for seven hours of dance training, seven days a week, doing something she admitted she had never done before and yes, those first few weeks you could see that she didn’t know her left foot from her right foot.  But she stood there and took all the criticism the judges could throw at her and I only saw her break down once, when she didn’t think the cameras were on her. How many divas from the past seasons thumped out of there whining and bitching about low marks? How many did we see arguing on camera with the pros, trying to tell them what to do. The diva with all the kids even pushed a pro far enough he was ready to walk off the show. Compare them to a kid who shakes, she’s so nervous, who is NOT accustomed to being in front of a camera or a crowded room…what other contestant on the show this season or any other can say that? The diva with the kids lived with a camera in her house for two years. The sports celebs play in front of crowds and TV cameras all the time. The gymnast played before billions who watched the Olympics.  Even the software guy has been surrounded by crowds and cameras.

    Then there is the complaint about Brandy not making it. Well Duh. She’s a whiny, spoiled diva and I, for one, gave a little hoot when she lost out to Palin last night. She EXPECTED to make the final. She said in an interview that she did DWTS to give her career another kickstart because she’s had a bit of bad luck and gotten a bad rap in the tabloids the last couple of years. Well boo farking hoo. She was a child star, basically, who knew exactly how to play to the cameras. She’s all ha ha ha backstage, but as soon as the camera is on her, she has those big freaking puppy dog eyes for the judges. Of course she could dance, she did music videos like the pussycat babe last year, so she knew her left foot from her right foot from day one. If she had nosed out Palin then *I* would have said the damned show was rigged, because take a look at the top two contendters…Jennifer Gray, who has also danced before,and has had a lagging career the past few years, and Brandy, who has danced before and has had a lagging career in the past few years. Duh.

    Sorry folks, but I guess I have the unpopular opinion that I hope Bristol wins the whole damned thing. I like Jennifer, and she’s worked hard and she can certainly dance circles around everyone else, but she still has her diva moments…how many times has she played to the camera that she doesn’t think her poor body can stand up to another twirl or turn, but then she comes out on dance night looking like a pro, smiling and laughing off her sore knee and sore neck?  NOT that I’m saying those two things are not real and serious, but hey…I have a bad neck and I wouldn’t be able to do half the shit she’s doing, and I have bad knees and I sure as crap would have had to stop long ago if it was as serious as she was making out. And what happened to the bad knee this past week? Seems to be a different injury in a different part of the body each week when the cameras are in the practice room, but then you never hear about it again.

    Bristol came into it scared shitless. She has no idea how to act, which is probably why her expression seems to be “detached”  when she’s dancing. Her steps, if you watch closely, are precise and hardly ever screw up because she’s practiced and practiced and practiced. She takes the crap from the judges and the press…and criticisms that should have had her in tears every week, but she just seems to pull up her socks and try harder.

    Go ahead, throw pies or tomatoes, but my lucky fingers are going to be wiggling up a storm because I hope she wins the whole damned thing.

    Oh, and by the way, at no time did I say Bristol could actually dance well….lol…I just said she tries hard and does the best she can with what she has.  And if you look at videos from her first dance, to her latest dance, the difference/improvement is astounding.

November 16, 2010

Oh, you must be the new people

Filed under: Caesars Through the Fence — marshacanham @ 1:42 pm

I think yesterday’s blog was too long, so I’ll try to limit my ramblings to under a thousand words, pithy or otherwise.

Picking up the thoughts from where I left off yesterday, 13 years on Edin Pit, 13 on Noake.  Both terrific, fun neighbourhoods.  One great ‘hood like that would have been very cool, but to stumble onto two was just amazing.  So it was with some trepidation that we put the for sale sign up and moved to yet another foreign country:  NORTH.  As scary as EAST was when we were living in the West end, North was an altogether new creature.  We had travelled through the towns North of the GTA on our way to cottages and baseball tournaments, but the thought of actually living there was daunting.  But an event had come along in our lives and, well…

I knew something was up that day when Jefferson and his girlfriend, with whom he had been living (North!!!!) the past two years, came for dinner, but instead of the usual casual arrival and instant search for food, they sat us down in the family room and offered to get me a drink.  A large drink.  First thought, of course, someone has had an accident, someone has died…

Nope.  Someone was making me a grandmother.  First thought was a whine.  I wasn’t even 50 yet.  That had been a standing joke of sorts, that I didn’t want to be grandmother before I turned 50. *snort*  I’m not sure what they thought my reaction would be, but I didn’t yell or faint or smack him upside the head.  I thought I took it rather well…after the second drink.  After the third I think it sunk in…in a good way…and after that we all just got excited.  It was fun shopping for baby stuff. Fun planning showers.  I did remind them, but only once, and very casually in passing, that it was sort of normal in an old fashioned way, to be married first before you had kids, but that was just a brief blip in an otherwise smooth transition from being 47, author, wife, mother…to being a 48yr old grandmother. WTF, I already had the gray hair.

Austin was, of course, the cutest most gorgeous baby in the planet.  And my son, of course, chose the very day the DIL went into the hospital to call me in a panic and tell me *someone* had to drive to downtown Toronto, to the jewellers, and pick up the engagement ring because yes, he wanted to propose to her before the baby was born.  Oooookay.  That someone of course was ME, who has never ever enjoyed driving into the city.  Carol Stacey was up from New York not too many months prior to the whole birthing event, and was scouting out locations in downtown for holding the Romantic Times Convention.  Since she stayed with me, I had to gird my loins and drive her around to the various hotels, and if anyone wants to verify how well I handled that, just ask Carol.  I’m sure she still has nightmares.  I mean, it’s not me. I’m a great driver, my dad the cop made sure of that.  It’s the OTHER lunatics on the road who drive me crazy.

So there I was, barreling into downtown Toronto, which was an hour south of Ajax, fighting morning  traffic to get to the jeweller, pick up the ring, PAY for the ring (he neglected to tell me that little tidbit at the time) then fight the city traffic to get out again, drive the hour north back home, then a further hour north to get to Newmarket, and all of this knowing my grandson was pushing his way out into the world and I would likely miss the big event because there was a backup of cars on the 404 from everyone slowing down to watch some 80yr old take a leak at the side of the road.

But I got there finally…rushed into the hospital, rushed to the maternity ward, got stopped by the nurse and nearly knocked her over yelling that I was going to be a grandmother and no one was getting in my way.  Finally fought my way to the room, panicked and sweaty (and I never sweat) as if I had run two marathons back to back…blew into the room like a mini hurricane only to see the two of them chatting away.  Oh, hi mom.

Oh, hi mom?

Imelda (so nick-named because of her penchant for shoes) had been in labour six hours by then and nothing.  Baby was stubborn.  He was stubborn for another 12 hours or so before the doctors finally convinced her that he was too big to come out the usual way and they needed to do a C section.  By then, of course, she was in a head to head race (no pun intended) with another woman in labour with twins.  And of course, the other woman needed to be rushed for a C section at exactly the same time.  The memory fogs somewhat (hey, it’s a countdown, remember, to a large number) as to why the hospital was short staffed that night, but it was, and there was only one doctor and one team of nurses on duty.  Austin was delivered, got to see my son crying and being all happy and shocked and amazed that he was holding a new life in his arms.  Got to video it all too, not the actual delivery, but right up to when they closed the OR doors and again when Jefferson emerged holding his son.  But then a strange thing happened.  Poor Imelda was abandoned on the table while the doc and nurses rushed across the hall to deliver the twins.  Imelda’s mom and I were allowed into the OR to see her, but I could tell by the look on Diane’s face that an explosion was imminent, so we ended up cleaning her up and bundling her in warm blankets so she didn’t shiver herself off the table waiting for the other nurses to come back.

So there we were, new grandparents, with a grandson we had to drive an hour to visit with.  We lasted just over a year doing the back and forth thing, but in a way it was kind of good because most times, if the parental units had to go somewhere (they were/are master bowlers and played in a lot of tournaments), they dropped him off on a Friday and picked him up on Sunday, so we got to have the little munchkin for a lot of weekends.  Even so, when that following spring rolled around and we took a drive up to watch Jefferson play baseball…Imelda and I noticed a new housing development going in across the street from the park.  The car veered in and, after hoisting her through an open window, we got inside the model suite and looked at the plans for the twelve new houses being built on a lovely little cul de sac, forest behind it, almost an acre of land for each yard.

We ran over to the ball diamond all excited, dragged the guys back to have a look and, within a week, had come back during proper sales hours and plonked down a deposit to purchase.

The sign went up on Noake on a Thursday and it was sold by Monday.  We moved North the following February, in the middle of a blizzard, onto a street that had one house…ours…and the two model homes, both vacant.  Construction on the other houses didn’t start until the summer, so for four interesting months we were the only ones on the street.  The isolation was…interesting.  Creepy at times, and not because it was isolated, but because it was so QUIET.  Noake was about a mile away from a busy highway, but the noise still managed to hang over the neighbourhood, even though, while we were there, we never noticed it.  But moving NORTH, to God’s country, where there were no highways, and the little hamlet we lived in had an indie grocery store and a historic temple to mark it’s location.  Mail had to picked up at the local post office, there was no delivery.  And when I walked into the office for the first time, the farmers stopped talking, turned and stared, and the girl behind the counter actually said: oh, you must be the new people.

November 15, 2010

The North Noake years…

Filed under: Caesars Through the Fence — marshacanham @ 3:01 pm

If the Eden Pit years were the salad days, and the brief stint on Chapman was the amuse bouche, then the years we spent on Noake Cresc were the full main course.  We had already gone through the new house, dirt for the front and back yard, new deck building, etc etc etc on Chapman, but this…this was to be our last move, into the house of our dreams, four big bedrooms, a huge family room, a wide greenbelt behind us so there were no neighbours peering into the back yard, a feeling of openness with a creek, on a quiet crescent.  So we endured the dirt and mud for a year before the sod was laid, and we endured the construction dust.  The houses seemed to get finished in an orderly fashion so that one household would move in, then next door, then next door all the way around the crescent, allowing time to meet each new couple/family as they moved in.  I think that’s where the tailgate parties started.  We would haul out chairs and watch the moving trucks, then invite the new people over to pull up a chair and have a drink.  Of course, that took two couples to start the process rolling, and that was us and the Griswalds.  They were two doors away and had moved in just about the same time as us and we met them when Stupid had to go help Mike get his truck out of the mud.  Across the street were the Fardys, and next to them the Big Souvlaki, and further down the street, almost *gasp* in South Noake, were the Foxes, Yarwoods, and the Rosedale Princess who eventually sold and moved 8 or so houses to be in North Noake proper.  Next to the Griswalds were the Cleavers, June and Ward who had the House of Perpetual Snacks.  Those early years, June had decided it was time to start a family and, being a nurse, knew how to time certain things to achieve certain results, so any hour of the day or night you could hear a voice ringing out down the street…”Rob…come home…now.”  That would go on for several days and evenings, then the poor lad would have a few weeks of peaceful tailgating, then boom…the window would slide open and June’s voice would echo down the street… “Rob…come home…now.”

Carrying on down the street were Heather and Al, and next to them the Cannons.  The Cannons’ boys were Matt (who still bowls and sees the Clone all the time) and Luc…who was blond, chunky, and looked and acted exactly like the comic book Dennis the Menace

Next to the Cleavers, the memory is dim as to who moved into that house first, but it was beside the walkway that cut through to the greenbelt and park out back.  Those people moved out after a year or two and the Frenchies moved in, both of them as miserable as miserable could be.  They didn’t make an effort to meet anyone or join into any of the gatherings, even their kids were miserable.  I recall a knock on my door one day and it was the husband complaining that my dog peed on his boulevard.  Well, duh.  Dogs pee.  And because they were beside the walkway, where everyone turned in to take their dogs for a walk on the greenbelt, guess what…dogs were going to pee on his boulevard.  I sent him away with a few choice words and the next day, another knock on my door…from a bylaw officer.  Frenchie had called to complain that my dog wasn’t on a leash AND it was peeing on his boulevard.  At that time, I had Walter, my beautiful little lhaso apso.  Walt was getting up in years at that time, probably around ten or so, so a leash was redundant.  He never moved more than five feet away from me at any time, and would actually stop and sit when I said “sit” (unlike the two psychos I have now who never did more than look at me with that ‘yeah, right’ expression whenever I said ‘sit’)  The officer apologized profusely for the “nonsense” call, but as he explained, if a complaint is lodged, he has to follow it through.  It was sometime around there that Lynda Cannon and I decided she had pissed us all off enough (she complained about Dennis the Menace all the time)  and, knowing how much Mrs Frenchie hated cats, we skulked around to their backyard and planted a ton of catnip in her gardens.  Ahh, those fine summer evenings hearing Frenchie screech at the cats and chase after them with a broom…

The annual regatta has already been mentioned in a previous blog, but we had Trick or Drink night too, on Halloween, and Drunken Caroling at Christmas.  We also gave out Goofy Gifts that started out being under 5, but we decided that allowed for too many actual nice things, so we lowered the limit to a dollar, which invited more creativity.  No one could quite match June Cleaver, however, who not only baked fresh cookies and muffins every morning, but was also Mrs Craftmatic.   We also closed off the street one evening each summer, with pilons and pails and boards to cut off traffic.  Almost every house on the street joined into a massive street sale during the day, and once the junk…er, valuable household possessions were cleared away, the street was blocked off and the party started.  One of the guys was a DJ, so we had muzak.  Chairs and tables were hauled into the street and the revelry lasted well into the late late (or early early) hours of the morning.  Imports were allowed, so every household invited friends.  It was around this time that someone noticed an ad in the real estate section of the paper, touting a house on Noake Crescent as being in a “highly desirable location, very people friendly”

Guess they weren’t around for the SWAT team incident.

It was all quite innocent.  My father had passed away and left the Clone two of his most prized possessions…his silver dollar collection, and his two shotguns.  I wanted no part of the guns, but my mother was moving and she certainly didn’t want them, so she wrapped them in green garbage bags and shoved them into my hands…whereupon I shoved them into Stupid’s hands, who tucked them in the rafters in the basement and basically forgot about them for a couple of years.  Then came the time when he started working on finishing the basement and he reminded me they were there.  Neither one of us thought it would be a great idea to simply seal them up in the ceiling, and it’s not like you can walk into a police station with two shotguns and say “hey, I have a problem”.  So we consulted the cop down the street, who told us to just call the station, explain the situation and tell them we have the guns and want to turn them over.  Fine.  Made the call.  Within…oh, ten minutes…there were four cop cars on the street, lights blazing, and a large black SWAT truck.  Guys with helmets and kevlar flak jackets and Very Big Guns surrounded the house while two big bruisers came to the front door.  Apparently they have been fooled once or twice when people say they just want to hand in guns, so they were taking no chances.  Plus, as I was told, it was a good training exercise.  Thank you very much, glad to be of help, please fetch my heart down off the ceiling.

These were also the Baseball Years.  The Clone had been 15 when we made the move to the East end, and had left behind a budding career as a first baseman in Bramalea.  He had made the all star team his final season there, and so, on a whim, decided to try out for the Rep team in Ajax.  It was a very tight knit group, with most of the kids having been together since they were pee wees, but because he had a good arm and he was already 6ft tall, the coach took him onto the team.  I had been used to going and watching the games in the summer, being one of maybe a handful of parents who politely cheered their kids on between reading pages of a book.   The Spartan parents, however, were totally committed to the game.  All the parents were there, husbands and wives, brothers, uncles, aunts, grandparents.  And there was no such thing as sitting quietly apart in the bleachers to watch. Newwwwwwwwww.  Newbies were dragged around, introductions made, a chair provided if you foolishly didn’t bring one, and you joined the long line of lawn chairs that flanked the diamond.  Hot weather, cold weather, rainy weather, everyone showed up.  The rep team travelled around the southern half of the province, and so did all the parents.  We even convoyed down to Indiana one weekend for a tournament.  Ten of our boys went and twenty-five supporters.  It was the hottest weekend of the summer and the boys had to soldier through five games carrying only one substitute versus the Indiana teams that had 20 and 30 kids on the bench.  Hah. We still won the whole show. So many stories. So little space.  There was the One F**king Pitch game.  The fake pregnancy–the assistant coach’s wife pretended to be pregnant for nine months..wearing bigger sized pillows every month…just so they could throw a surprise party and actually surprise the intended victim…me.  It was as you might gather, a party team, and a prerequisite for every motel/hotel we invaded for the weekend games was a party room.  They were a wonderful bunch of people who, because the team parties and the Noake Crescent parties sometimes overlapped, often ended up attending the regattas and the street dances.

A lot of those boys are still friends, most are family men now and, like the Clone, have started coaching their own kids.  Austin tried out for and made the local rep team last year, and it was like deja vu, hauling my lawn chair around to the various baseball diamonds, watching him play, watching Jefferson coach.  Even more shivery because Austin is the exact spitting image of Jefferson at that age…at every age, in fact.  I have pics of the Clone and held them up with pics of Austin through the various ages and the two could have been twins.  So it’s a bit spooky, kind of like reliving the years watching Jefferson grow up.  All good, however.  My only hope for next summer is that Payton’s soccer games fall on a different night of the week.  This past summer, they both played home games on Tuesday nights, so it was one week baseball, one week soccer.

But back to Noake.  I was cleaning out my office this past summer and came across an envelope that contained several editions of  the “Noake Crescent Review”,  an annual report of events that took place on the street.  I sat there for a couple of hours reading through them, laughing my head off, remembering all the wonderful silliness.

Oddly enough, we lived on Eden Pit for 13 years, and we lived on Noake Crescent for 13 years.

November 14, 2010

The Eden Pit years…

Filed under: Caesars Through the Fence — marshacanham @ 3:08 pm

The townhouse on Eden Park was our first venture into home ownership.  It was in a great little complex, shaped like a large H with a closed end, and we were in the middle of the cross bar.  It actually had six levels if you count the basement, each one offset by five or six steps, so it was a bummer if you were at the top and forgot something from the kitchen, although back then the knees worked and it was great exercise.  The back yard was the size of a postage stamp but it opened into the closed part of the H, where there was a good sized parkette with swings and iron horses that rocked back and forth.  The Clone was two and a half when we moved in and fifteen and a half when we moved out and some of the friends he made in that neighborhood, through bowling etc, he still has today.  It’s a bit of a shock to be standing in the  bowling alley which the Clone now owns and have some 6ft+ hunk walk up and give me a big hug, and me remembering him as a 3ft runt with a runny nose.

Eden Pit (named that after a letter came to the house with Park spelled Pit) was where we discovered slush drinks and irish coffees, cooler floats and…ta dah…ceasars that came through the fence.  In the summer I used to sit out the back while the Clone was in the parkette, sometimes scribbling away, sometimes reading.  When the neighbour next door, Woody, came home, he’d head out the back and if he saw me out there, a hand would come through the fence with a Caesar at the end of it. Caesar’s are marvellous Canuck drinks, an aggrandized version of a Bloody Mary if you will, made with clamato juice, lemon juice, Worcestershire, tobasco, lemon pepper, and vodka.  Woody made the best Caesars on the block and I think of him every time I get out a flower vase and mix one.  Yes, they came in giant size glasses, and since we could never find glasses big enough, we used fish bowls, flower vases, even small glass ice buckets…whatever was most creative.  The joke, of course, was that we were “only having one drink”.  Woody moved out to BC and we lost touch after a few years, but I think of him often…the Ceasars…and the evening of the Wild Turkey when he and Stupid decided to flood the park out back for a skating rink.  They went out about 7ish on a freezing cold night, armed with hoses and a 40 oz bottle of Wild Turkey.  The first layer of flooding went fine, as did the first half of the bottle.  About 11, Jan and I went out to see where they were and the two were sitting on the park bench, both holding hoses with the water frozen into large curved icicles, both huddled into their ski jackets, beards frosted with ice, the Wild Turkey almost gone.  Neither one knew the water had frozen coming out of the hose, or that they were nearly frozen solid themselves.  We hauled them inside by the scruff of their necks and the next morning, the hoses were still there, standing upright with the frozen spigots of water stuck to the rink.  I don’t think either one of them ever touched Wild Turkey again.

Eden Pit was also where the Clone discovered that not everything on TV is real.  The Six Million Dollar Man was a favorite show back then, and all the kids zoomed around on their Big Wheels pretending to be Steve Austin.  The Clone took it one step further one day and climbed a six foot retaining wall then jumped off onto the asphalt road.  Luckily he didn’t break both legs, but when I asked him why he did such a dumb, dangerous thing, he just looked at me through the wails and tears and said, ” But mom, I made the tch tch tch tch sound like the “Minion” Dollar Man does when he jumps.”  I guess I was lucky he didn’t try going off a roof.

Ours was one of the larger units, and because we had the finished basement, it was party central.  At least once a month the music would be blaring and the house would be vibrating.  Halloweens were the best…everyone went overboard making costumes.  One year we had a Frankenstein who nailed chunks of 2×4’s to the bottom of his shoes, painted himself green,  then clomped around the street scaring the nostril hairs out of all the kids.  Another time I made a large milk bottle (yes, milk came in bottles back then) out of bristol board, complete with the bottle cap.  Dressed Stupid in it and tried to get a refund for him in at the local variety store.  The owner of the store was pretty good natured, wouldn’t take Stupid, but he did give us a pack of gum.

Eden Pit was also where I started writing.  One of the neighbours, Dianne, was an avid reader of Harlequin Romances.  Those were the days when boxes of laundry detergent came with a bonus gift of a Harlequin romance.  I think they were 99 cents, about 200 pages long with big print and nothing more scandalous than a kiss on the last page.  I was reading War and Peace in the park, and she was reading something about a girl (the heroine)  finding a baby calf on the road, taking it back to her hotel room, then pouting and arguing with the manager (the hero) because he wouldn’t let her keep it in the room.  No shit, I swear that was the entire plot of the book and by the end, they were kissing and swooning and declaring undying love and keeping the calf as a pet.  No thought to the fact the calf grows into a cow and tends to fertilize wherever it feels like it.  When I gave it back to Diane, laughing so hard there were tears coming down my cheeks, she got all huffy and said:  “Well, if you can do better, why don’t you write one.”  (By the way, if anyone recognizes that sterling plot and knows what book that was, I would totally love to get my hands on a copy)

So I hauled out my dad’s old underwood typewriter and started punching the keys.  I wrote what I thought was a brilliant tome, with drug dealers and a murder and hair raising fights on the top of a lighthouse tower.  Dianne was suitably impressed with the effort and I, all puffed up and certain I had the Next Great Canadian Novel in my hands, submitted it to Harlequin.  I guess the editor who read it was suitably shocked as well because she actually wrote a note on the bottom of the standard rejection letter that said:  “I can’t remember ever, ever having so much as a death in a Harlequin Romance, let alone drug dealers and murder.  I think you should be writing for a different audience.”

Whilst I was awaiting that little rejection note, I happened to pick up Forever Amber at the library and devoured it in a single day.  I went back and picked up a Rosemary Rogers, and a few others in the teeny tiny section set aside for romance novels.  I re-read Gone With the Wind for the umpteenth time and Captain Blood, and Thomas B. Costain and had an epiphany of sorts…THIS was what I wanted to write.  Blood and action and adventure!  Errol Flynn swinging out of the rigging!  Rhett Butler saving Scarlet from Atlanta while it burned…

Back to the old underwood I went and wrote fast and furious.  I chose the Civil War period for my first full length foray into historical adventure because even then I had this wierd desire to create a  heroine who was not the weak, simpering, swooning type of heroine common in those days.  She was a spy, who lived and slept with a Yankee officer while passing along his secrets to a heroic Confederate officer, who ended up having to save her when she was discovered.  It was 500 pages long by the time I typed the end, and the characters had gone through every type of angst I could think of, run through a dozen plot twists, travelled the length of the war torn States….again, a brilliant masterpiece, the next Gone With the Wind for sure!!!!!!

Uh huh.  I gave it ten rejections before I bundled it up and stuck it on a shelf and concentrated on the next adventure.  There were, in fact, three more great adventures, all of which earned enough rejection letters to fill a large file folder.  Dianne never lost faith in me, and if nothing else, I had converted her enough that she had given up on the laundry box romances and moved onto thicker, bigger and better Historical romances.  I was getting more discouraged than she was, in fact, and just as I was about to accept the fact that I might never get published…Stupid came home one day, saw me pounding away at the underwood, and scoffed at me.  Actually scoffed:  “You’ll never write a book.  You’re just wasting your time.”


Three months later, I typed the end on a manuscript I had started the day of the scoffing.  I typed out the title: China Rose, and sent it off to Avon Books.  An overworked editor’s assistant, Malle Vallik (who, ironically, holds a very high editorial position at Harlequin these days) started reading the manuscript in the back of a theatre while she was waiting for the movie to start.  She passed it along to her editor, Maggie McLaren, who sent me a nice little letter saying she would like to acquire the book for Avon.  They were starting up a new line, called Ribbon Romances, and China Rose would fit right in for the launch along with a book by another unknown Canadian author, Virginia Henley.

And, as all full circle stories seem to go, I received that letter while I was in the hospital having knee surgery, so I couldn’t even jump up and down.  Tomorrow, I head off to the ortho’s office to find out when that same knee will undergo surgery to replace it.


November 13, 2010

A few memories as the countdown begins…

Filed under: Caesars Through the Fence — marshacanham @ 6:16 pm

A week to go and I hit the big Six Oh.  Ohhhhhhhhhhh.  Yeah. Something about the sound of the SSSSSS in the Six sends a shiver right down my spine.  Fifty didn’t bother me all that much, even though the thought, when converted to Half a Century, was a bit mind-numbing.  Forty was a bit of a bummer, but I was engrossed in writing, lived in a great neighborhood, travelled a lot, still had a husband who I believed wasn’t a cheating lying son of a bitch piece of day old snot.  So forty wasn’t bad.  Thirty, as I recall, gave some pause because to me it meant turning into an adult.  In your twenties, you still feel able to do all the goofy things you did when you were in your teens and get away with it.  I credit the fact I lived in another slightly manic neighbourhood, where we had parties every weekend, stayed up through the night to watch the sun come up, had water fights, kid’s days, costume parties, and most moms with little kids stayed home and we’d either have a stroller conga line going to the mall, or we’d sit in the park and gab while the kids tried to break body parts on the swings and rocker horses.  I still smile when I think of Bill and Jeannie, one English, one Scottish, the latter being all of five foot zip.  She enjoyed her rye and there were many an evening in the summer, she would suddenly climb onto the picnic table and belt out Scottish songs at the top of her lungs.  Windows would slam shut, the few miserable people in the block would tell her to put a sock in it, and when the cops inevitably came, they looked at this tiny, half looped, grinning maria callas and usually ended up either singing along with her or having a drink with us. Pop, of course. *wink*

So the twenties were great, the thirties…well…midway through we moved out of the townhouse and into a Strange New Land called East.  We had travelled East a few times, usually to visit friends who had moved out that way, past the Yonge Street divide which sort of divided Toronto into East and West in my mind anyway.  Anything East of Yonge was totally foreign territory.  Places like Whitby, Oshawa, Pickering were so far East we cracked jokes wondering if they took Canadian currency.

So there we were one day, out for a drive, checked out a new subdivision being built and, because East was another country, the prices were less than half what they were in the West.  We were house hunting, so walking into the sales office and seeing that we could get a bigger house for less than half of what we were considering paying in the West…well….we came away clutching a sales slip.  It didn’t really strike us till we got home and told the Clone that we had bought a house…that we had BOUGHT A HOUSE.  And in the EAST.  He actually didn’t believe us for that whole first week until we tossed him in the car the following weekend and took the hour long drive to see what we had done.  I don’t think we believed it ourselves, really, but there it was.  Our patch of dirt.

However.  An odd thing happened ,once building started, when we started driving out every weekend to watch the progress.  They weren’t building our house.  They built the ones on either side and up and down and across the street, but not ours.  Found out it was a “fire break”, aka the seventh house in the row, always left to the last in order to create a gap if the street caught fire while under construction.  I know, gave me a warm feeling too.  Point being, when they finally did start building, we were so excited we went into the wrong house.  Dummy me thought wow, the builder gave us this door off the laundry room that wasn’t in the plans…and…hmmm…I don’t remember the kitchen being this big or… or…

Yeah. Bummer.  And because I liked the layout so much more, we drove by the sales office, saw they opening up a new phase for sale, and slapped down our deposit on the new improved model, backing onto a greenbelt, extra wide lot…the whole nine yards.  We lived in the first house a year and half, didn’t even bother to unpack most of the boxes, and only did a minimal amount of painting and decorating.  Then we moved about 8 streets north, onto a crescent that would make the blissful madness of the townhouse years feel like just a warm-up.  Hard to describe those Noake Crescent years.  It was lovely little crescent, maybe 60 houses in all, but by some unknown quirk, was divided into North and South, with the North end being full of revellers and party people, and the South end full of those who wished they lived in the North end.  One family actually sold their house in South Noake and moved 6 houses up the street into North Noake.  We had tailgate parties every night in the summer…all it took was one person dragging a lawn chair out of the garage and within ten minutes, the driveway was filled.  We had the Cleavers, June and Ward, who had the House of Snacks.  The Griswalds, who turned travelling anywhere, whether to the mall or to Jamaica, into a Chevy Chase adventure.  Lurch lived across the street;  he was so tall he had to duck when he went in and out of his garage.  The Cannons, the Rosedale Princess, the Big Souvlaki…  We held annual street dances and massive garage sales.  We had a regatta every year in the creek that ran through the greenbelt.  Everyone had to build boats out of a hunk of 2 X 4, following all kinds of rules for height, width, thickness etc.  The creek was only about 6 inches deep, so waterguns were allowed to propell them.  The boats remained the same size through the years, but the guns got bigger.  By the seventh or eighth regatta, we all looked like ghosbusters, with extra water packs and large water cannons that shot 100ft.  A newbie, who showed up with his little water pistol, just blinked and commented that he felt like a fart in the wind.

And on that aromatic note…more later…

November 10, 2010

Okay, seriously people….

Filed under: Uncategorized — marshacanham @ 9:49 pm

I need a vote here.

The original sunset pink:


The *ahem* cheesy wave:


The original after the sun has set:

Opinions/votes pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeese

November 9, 2010

No, you’re not seeing things

Filed under: Uncategorized — marshacanham @ 9:21 pm

I’ve made a new cover for Swept Away.


It wasn’t that I didn’t like the old one…I did.  Sort of.  I mean, just because I couldn’t get the colour of the sunset right, or just because I had to chop the poor fellow’s head off because he had a crew cut didn’t necessarily mean I wasn’t pleased with how it turned out.  It was only my second attempt at designing a cover.  And I did spend nearly four hours painstakingly cutting out the pic of the tiny ship in the background and painstakingly, pixel by pixel taking out the background that showed through the rigging and around the sails.  Anal pixelling is all part of the fun of making up my own covers.  It actually helps me think, even after I go a little cross-eyed doing it.

Nope, bottom line was, I liked the covers for Bound by the Heart and The Wind and the Sea better.  I liked the font, the faded images, the colour scheme and, since all three books had elements of the sea in them, I figured I could get away with using the same general theme.

FINDING something that conveyed the feeling of being Swept Away was another matter entirely.  I must have googled every windswept keyword and tag I could think of, trying to find just the right background to set the mood.  I belong to a great email loop comprised of authors from the website, and we all toss our covers out while we’re doing them to get some input/criticism/comments.  I whined about my dilemma over finding something that looked swept away, but when I DID find something I thought would work, they all vetoed it.  Dunno why.  I thought it was perfect.


So…back at the drawing board, I found a cool wave I could use.  And as much I love the photos on Jimmy Thomas’s site, I used two of them already, so I searched, again, for something a little different.  I hope no one misses the pink sunset.  It has actually been selling very well on Amazon…better than BBTH, which makes me a bit leery about changing the cover, but…I’ll give it a try and see what happens.  If people would rather see the pink sunset cover, I can put it back *S*

What do YOU think?

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