Thursday, October 20, 2016

An Invitation from Edgar Lavoie

Dear Joan.
 55 Plus Harvest Craft Market - Hope you can make it . . . Pass this on to your friends.  Later, I will also be attending the Vanderwees Christmas Craft Sales and December Dreams.  (You may have received this already.  In that case, sorry!)

Writer Edgar Lavoie

BOOK TABLE THIS SUNDAY - 55 Plus Harvest Craft Market, River Street, 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM.  Sixty vendors.  Fellow author Marianne Jones & I will offer our wares in Craft Room #2.  I am also publicizing the upcoming anniversary of a major historical event in Northern Ontario, the completion of the first Trans-Canada Canada.  Will have info & maps on hand.  Also, I am offering for sale my latest book, just released: Bush Histories I - Gold-Seekers in Greenstone & Beyond.

Monday, October 17, 2016

by Karl Goodwin

A cold wind off Lake Superior slices through Fort William’s grain elevators and across the railway station platform. The sun surrenders little warmth. It is maybe twenty years ago.
            Fourteen of us await a passenger train coming in from the east and it’s 10 a.m.
            A phone call to the farm the previous night has informed us the train will be making a brief stop.
            Natives from the Queen Charlottes out in B.C. are returning home by train from Ottawa. They’ve been pleading with the Feds for a park…trying to limit logging in their territory out there…Train station…Ya….tomorrow morning….stopping only for a short time, no more than twenty minutes or so. I’d be nice to show ‘em some support when they arrive. Depot will be closed. But bring hot coffee when you want to…Ya. Ten sharp.
            I’ve brought my son Adam. He is about seven and somewhere in a space between sleepy and cold from the trip into the city. He huddles close to me in the lee of the station.
            10 a.m. No train.
            10:20 a.m. No train.
            We repeatedly look round the end of the station and up the track. I fantasize about kneeling down and placing my ear to the track to listen for train vibration—like the Indians did. Or was it the cowboys? What if my ear were to freeze to the track? 10:30—despite the depot sign saying “WESTBOUND – ON TIME.”
            Adam shivers and I retie the drawstrings on his coat and get him to wipe his nose. I ask him if he wants to leave. I ask him if he “has to go.” He decides we should stay “a little while longer.”
            Adam fidgets. I think of the CPR, the two glistening steel rails. Riel. The Metis. Sir John A. Lives lost and fortunes made “to tie the nation together.” Gordon Lightfoot’s Railroad Trilogy.
10:45 a.m.
Eventually the train pulls into sight, coming to a long slow squealing halt as a conductor steps off, footstool in hand. Four coaches down a dozen “not-so-native-looking” train-weary passengers disembark.
Finally the Haida. First a tall male elder with a small skin-covered drum, then two Haida women who step to the platform and unfurl a hand painted banner beside the train as the drummer beats the drum and sings a Haida song. He concludes by speaking in Haida as the wind whips the banner and the red and black button blankets of the visitors.
On the far side of the platform those of us greeting the arrivals and “offering our support” stand transfixed. No one has been delegated to speak for us. We do not know what constitutes an appropriate response! Does one clap for a drum song?
We stand our ground stationside. Trainside, the Haida stand their ground. One minute. Two minutes. They eye us. We eye them. We are “as deer caught in the headlights.
Adam confidently moves away from me, strides across the station platform.
            He gives the drummer a full hug. With the “ice now broken,” the rest of us follow Adam’s lead and cross the platform to greet out visitors. We chat all too briefly.
            “ALL ABOARD.’
The Haida fold their banner, climb onto the train, and they’re gone.
Experiencing Adam’s spontaneity on that day will forever remain one of my proudest memories. I understand that part of Gwaii Haanas is now protected. I have never been there.
Adam died in the North on January 9, 1999.

Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, National Marine Conservation Area Reserve and Haida Heritage Site.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Hello Chalk. A letter from Doug Diaczuk.

I will be holding a book launch for my novel, Chalk, on Thursday Oct. 27 from 7-9 at The Foundry. This will be followed by a signing at Chapters on Saturday, Oct. 29 from 1-4. Books will be available in case you haven’t had a chance to pick up a copy yet. Thank you, everyone for all your support and encouragement. I really appreciate it. I hope to see you all there to help me celebrate the launch of my first book!

Friday, October 14, 2016

The Authors Come to Thunder Bay

International Festival of Authors Ontario
Tuesday, November 1 @ 7 pm
Thunder Bay Art Gallery Tickets on sale Oct. 3
Tickets are $15 and are available at Waverley Library, Brodie Library and the Thunder Bay Art Gallery. 
Call 684-6811 for information
Master of Ceremonies: Lisa Laco, CBC Radio (88.3 FM)
Featured Authors
Karen Connelly is the author of ten best-selling books of poetry and fiction, the most recent being Come Cold River, a family memoir in poetry. In 2017, her new long-awaited novel The Change Room will be published by Random House Canada. Burmese Lessons, a love story is a prose memoir that chronicles her time in Burma and Thailand in the late 1990’s.

Amy Jones won the 2006 CBC Literary Prize for Short Fiction and was a finalist for the 2005 Bronwen Wallace Award. She is a graduate of the Optional Residency MFA Program in Creative Writing at UBC, and her fiction has appeared in Best Canadian Stories and The Journey Prize Stories. Originally from Halifax, she now lives in Thunder Bay, where she is associate editor of The Walleye. Amy’s latest novel We’re All in This Together was the title of TBPL’s first One Book, One Community.
Andy McGuire is from Grand Bend, Ontario, and currently resides in Toronto. He is pursuing an MFA in creative writing from the University of Guelph. McGuire’s poems have appeared in Riddle Fence, Hazlitt and The Walrus. Andy will present Country Club, his debut poetry collection.
Cordelia Strub is an accomplished playwright and the author of nine critically acclaimed novels. Winner of the CBC literary competition and a Toronto Arts Foundation Award, she has been nominated for the Governor General’s Award, the Trillium Book Award and long-listed for the Scotiabank Giller Prize. She will present On The Shores of Darkness There Is Light.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Bob Dylan Wins 2016 Nobel Prize for Literature

The Times They Are a-Changin'
Come gather 'round people where ever you roam
And admit that the waters around you have grown
And accept it that soon you'll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you is worth savin'
Then you better start swimmin' or you'll sink like a stone,
For the times they are a' changin'!
Come writers and critics who prophesy with your pen
And keep your eyes wide the chance won't come again
And don't speak too soon for the wheel's still in spin
And there's no tellin' who that it's namin'
For the loser now will be later to win
For the times they are a' changin'!
Come senators, congressmen please heed the call
Don't stand in the doorway don't block up the hall
For he that gets hurt will be he who has stalled
There's a battle outside and it's ragin'
It'll soon shake your windows
And rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin'


Saturday, October 8, 2016

A Northern Gardener: Growing Tulips in the Land of Squirrels

Darwin tulips 2016 
Growing Tulips in the Land of Squirrels
by Joan M. Baril
They warned me. “Don’t plant tulips. The squirrels will dig them up. The deer will eat the blooms, nip them off the stalk.” Luckily, I live in the city centre and have no deer. But the clerk at the nursery was blunt about the squirrels. “No one plants tulips in Thunder Bay any more,” she said.
 I’ve planted tulips for twenty years and never lost a bulb. Still, the squirrels using my bird feeders and baths seem more numerous all the time.
I followed the usual autumn routine but with modifications.
The first task: find the right bulbs, the Darwins. In my experience, Darwin tulips are best for Northern gardens. They are tall, around twenty inches, with large egg-shaped flowers. They bloom mid season, around the middle of May. They produce a faint scent and entice bees. The blooms last the longest of all the tulips. Unlike other types, Darwins often return year after year. They are toughies. I’ve seen the blooms encased in ice from a late storm and the leaves white with frost, but after a light spray from the hose, they recovered.

The problem with Darwins is to find them. Nowadays the nurseries seldom label the bins. The clerks often know little. Even packaged tulips may provide skimpy information. Worse, bins of tulips are labeled by colour: pink tulips, red and so on. No type listed, no height given or time of bloom, whether early, mid-season or late.
The solution is to note the variety name, if you can get it, and Google.
Chose a non-windy spot. Tulips like sun but will grow in light shade. In dark shade, such as between houses, they produce leaves but no flowers. Most directions say to plant the bulbs to a depth double the length of the bulb. Ignore this. Get them in as deep as possible, even a foot down. Make the hole large and plant several in the hole. Tulips look best in clumps.
 At the bottom of the hole, put some compost or soil and mix in a little bulb fertilizer. Cover with a layer of compost. Seat the bulbs firmly, points up, close together but not touching. Add a layer of soil and then cover with a mesh to deter digging squirrels. I put down a tough plastic mesh, the kind used for climbing plants. A friend uses chicken wire. The tulips will grow through the spaces. Fill up the hole and mark the spot.
Last year, I planted 300 bulbs. The first tulip nose appeared April 20 in a sunny bed. Those in light shade came a few days later. Around May 10 I stopped filling the bird feeders and baths. I reasoned the squirrels would miss their accustomed food and drink and depart. Sure enough, in two days, fewer squirrels.
By Victoria Day, all tulips were up and blooming.
Victory was short lived. On May 26, I found a flower on the ground. It had been neatly clipped from the stem. The next day I spied a black squirrel on the lawn, a pink tulip bloom between its paws. I swear he looked guilty.
Then, later, a line of pink petals across the grass signified another mutilated plant.
I was flummoxed. I decided to experiment. I spread mothballs around a few clumps. Around others, I sprayed Critter Ridder. (available at Canadian Tire and some of the nurseries). The last clusters got a dowsing spray of Safer’s Soap, which I use against aphids but I was sure would taste awful.
What happened? Nothing. I never had another tulip mutilation.
For four or five weeks, tulips own the garden and get the music going. Eventually, their lips curl back and they open wide to the air and, almost turning themselves inside out, release their petals one by one. The tall thin leaves fiddle for position, twist for light until they slowly brown and droop away.
Now comes the crucial part. You snap off the seed pod. The dying leaves must remain until you can lift them out with a light tug. The bulb stays in the ground.
I often splurge on lily-flowered tulips usually sold in packages. The elegant blooms appear in late May but, alas, they seldom return a second year.
Tulip Tarda (Tulipa Desystaem tarda) jump start the season. Short guys, about four inches tall and easy to grow in full sun or light shade, they arrive the first week in May. The star-shaped, golden white-tipped blooms are short-lived but, oh so welcome. No special care is needed. They spread but are not invasive. I planted mine twenty-six years ago in 1990, when I first started my garden, and they still thrive.
Originally published in Seniors Magazine October 2016.
trail of the marauding squirrel.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Governor General's Literary Awards Short List 2016

Short listed for Poetry

    Regeneration Machine by Joe Denham
    The Waking Comes Late by Steven Heighton
    Throaty Wipes by Susan Holbrook
    Prairie Harbour by Garry Thomas Morse
    Marry & Burn by Rachel Rose

The Emperor of Any Place by Tim Wynn-Jones. GG short list for Young People's Literature (test)

Young people's literature (text):
    The Unquiet by Mikaela Everett
    A Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnston
    Once in a Town Called Moth by Trilby Kent
    Calvin by Martine Leavitt
    The Emperor of Any Place by Tim Wynne-Jones

Toyko Digs a Garden by Jon-Erik Lappano short listed for Young People's Literature, Illustration.

Young people's literature (illustration):
    The White Cat and the Monk by Jo Ellen Bogart, illustrated by Sydney Smith
    Tokyo Digs a Garden by Jon-Erik Lappano, illustrated by Kellen Hatanaka
    The Branch by Mireille Messier, illustrated by Pierre Pratt
    Ooko by Esmé Shapiro

    Kill Me Now by Brad Fraser
    Pig Girl by Colleen Murphy
    A Man A Fish by Donna-Michelle St. Bernard
    Concord Floral by Jordan Tannahill
    Refuge by Mary Vingoe

Brad Fraser author of Kill Me Now, short listed for GG drama

Translation (French to English):
    The Party Wall translated by Lazer Lederhendler, written by Catherine Leroux
    Guano translated by Rhonda Mullins, written by Louis Carmai
    The Goddess of Fireflies translated by Neil Smith, written by Geneviève Pettersen

The Goddess of Fireflies by Genevieve Pettersen translated by Neil Smith. GG short list for Translation from French to English