Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Taking the plunge

For several years I have written on this blog and my creative writing blog that I'd like to join in with National Novel Writing Month. Every November writers around the world type their hearts out as they create a 50,000+ novel in a month. It's always sounded so intriguing to me, but I've always had more pressing things to accomplish (like cuddling orphans in Tanzania or teaching English in Korea). But this fall I haven't been doing too much of anything. Well, I've managed to keep myself busy, but let's just say I haven't been doing too much of anything truly important. I'm living in Maine, but not actually allowed to work in the U.S. yet. So I've done some work online for my dad's company, helped my mum out with some projects. But I'm not really what you'd call busy. So this year it is. I will take the plunge. I've calculated it out and to accomplish this goal I'd need to write an average of 1,666.66 words each day in November. That is totally doable and a much easier goal to accomplish than 50,000 words in 30 days. (One semester at Southern I was supposed to write a 1,000-word journal entry each week. I would inevitably leave it to the last minute and then rush into the library an hour before class and crank out 1,000-1,200 words before dashing off to class.) So with all this extra time I have lying around, all these days with no purpose and nothing much to complete except for busy work, I will write my first novel. It might not be very good (it might, in fact, be quite awful). It might actually turn into a short novel, and several short stories. But that's OK. Because I've committed myself to writing at least 50,000 fresh and new words starting on November 1*. Wish me luck because I'm sure I'm going to need it.

*I sure hope I can start on November 1. I'm leaving in about half an hour to drive down to Tennessee for Southern's alumni weekend where Jonathan, my sister Bryn, and I will be playing in the alumni orchestra concert on Saturday night. I'll be visiting with my parents, my sister, my brother and his family, and several members of Jonathan's extended family. Then my parents, Bryn, and I will be headed down to Florida to see my older sister and my good friend from Tanzania and her adorable baby boy. I won't get back to Maine to start writing in earnest until the afternoon of November 2. Here's to hoping I start writing something worthwhile starting November 1 or at least go crazy with writing a bunch of short stories that will equal 50,000 words.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Married life

While I was going through my teens and early twenties, my mother often commented that she was so glad to be happily married and forever finished with dating. I never really understood her. I liked the place in my life I was in. I liked getting to know other people, being friends, thinking about more. Although I never dated many guys, I did enjoy being in the dating part of my life. Then I started seriously dating Jonathan, got engaged, and got married. Almost immediately I realized what my mum had meant. Now I'm absolutely thrilled to be finished with dating and on to married life. And I'm sure my kids will never understand me when I tell them that. At least until they're married...

Happy dating anniversary, Jonathan! The three years since we lay side-by-side (but oh so careful not to touch) on that large chilly rock at Southern's Goliath Wall watching the Orionid meteor shower in the early morning dark have been the best of my life. And the nearly fifteen months since our wedding have been the best of all! I can't wait for as many more years together as God sees fit to give us! I love you more than all the meteors that fall during our meteor shower.

Us then - at the SAU Fall Fest a week or two after we started dating
Us now - on our Mexican-themed anniversary picnic

*I wrote this post way back in June when it came to my mind one evening. I carefully saved it away as a draft in my not-often-used blog, intending to post it on our first wedding anniversary. But then Jonathan posted his own blog on August 1st, and I completely forgot about my own until I happened across it when I started using this blog again a couple months ago. Not wanting to wait another year to post it, I decided that our dating anniversary was the next best idea and slightly changed the message to fit the event. Sorry you didn't get to read this on August 1, Jonathan, but I'm happy you can read it before our second anniversary.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Canadian Thanksgiving, a week later

On Friday morning I had a wonderful surprise. During breakfast my mother-in-law suggested to me that we have a Canadian Thanksgiving dinner in my honour the coming Sunday evening. I was quite surprised, mostly because Jonathan and I had already celebrated my Thanksgiving, not in the traditional sense, but in our own special way. The idea to have a special meal, though, was such a kind thought, and I was eternally thankful and immediately said so. Soon we were in the midst of discussions about what to have for the meal and what groceries we would need to get before the weekend.

On Sunday morning we bustled around putting together many dishes for the meal. Then we left everything in a nearly-finished state, a casserole in the oven ready to start baking at the appointed time, and took off for the cabin. We spent the afternoon bringing items inside to close off the summer season and winterizing the small chalet so that it will be ready when the snow comes. A few hours later, when we were done at the lake, we dashed back to the house and finished the few things left to do for the meal. Then all four of us sat down at the table to enjoy the first of two Thanksgiving dinners we'll have together this year. It was a fabulous feast! And then we spent more time together playing games (one of my favourite family-togetherness activities), Spot It and Apples to Apples. We had fun. We laughed. We bonded. And I gotta tell you, Canadian Thanksgiving might be even more magical than Christmas! (OK, not quite as magical, but almost. :) Thanks for the special time together, Mom and Dad in Maine! It was a great week-after-Thanksgiving surprise!

Our version of Canadian Thanksgiving dinner
The spread (That plant at the end was not to eat, although it looks quite delicious in this picture)
Four of the Gerrans clan - We forgot to get a picture of all of us together before starting the meal, so we did one before dessert
Dessert traditions - homemade cheesecake and pumpkin pie 
I'm not such a fan of pumpkin pie, so I made my traditional Q-cheesecake for half of our dessert spread. Yum! Thanks, Mum, for the recipe!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Flannel sheets

I did laundry yesterday. Hardly blog-worthy, I know. But I did our sheets and in the evening, before putting them back on our bed, Jonathan mentioned that maybe we should dig out a set we got last fall but haven't used yet. I was happy to oblige and I knew exactly where they've been hanging out since we stuffed them away last November. "Now I'll actually have room for my feet," I said as I pulled the packaged sheets from under the desk I'm using. When I hopped into bed that night the soft flannel sheets embraced me. "It's like being hugged by a giant teddy bear!" I exclaimed to Jonathan who was already settled in.

Mmmm, flannel sheets. So delightful! I haven't used flannel sheets for at least three years. We brought along to Korea one set of the cheapest-but-most comfortable all-season sheets we could find. And I definitely didn't need flannel the year before in Tanzania. So the last time I used flannel sheets was probably in 2009, the last time I was home for Christmas. It's good to have the flannel back in my life. And I think fall in Maine is here for good! (Until winter shows up, at least...:)

L.L. Bean's Ultrasoft Flannel sheets - Seriously ultrasoft!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Canadian Thanksgiving...

...Maine style!

That's right. This past Monday another Canadian Thanksgiving arrived, the sixth in a row since I last celebrated it at home. In fact, the sixth in a row that I have been living in a foreign country for. And the seventh in a row since I have had Thanksgiving at home with all of my grandparents, parents, and younger siblings together. You'd think, after six or seven years, I would get used to the loneliness and intense homesickness that overcomes me during the entire Thanksgiving weekend. But I'm not, and I don't think I'll ever be. I used to write on this blog, "Next year I'll make sure I'm home for Thanksgiving, for Remembrance Day." I've long since given up saying that. I honestly have no idea when I'll next be able to be home for Thanksgiving. (I am going to give it a concerted effort for next year, since at this point we're planning to be in Maine for Christmas 2013.)

But this year, like last year, I celebrated Canadian Thanksgiving in Maine. Last year Jonathan and I went on a paddle-wheel boat tour and reveled in the fall colours painting the shore. Later in the day we went back to his parents' camp, and Jonathan took me on an impromptu catamaran ride, my first ever! I had to give up making a real Thanksgiving meal to go out on the cat, but I did so with no hesitation. Sailing in October beats out a pretend (not at home) Thanksgiving meal hands down! So last year we had a great day together, despite it not being quite the same as celebrating at home.

The Songo River Queen on Long Lake in Naples, Maine
Us in a cracked mirror on the paddle-wheeler
Shore from the boat
Tiny lighthouse (for you, Mum)
Autumn island

And this year, while I was again in Maine instead of BC, was equally as wonderful! It started with a drive to the camp, then a boat ride to take the boat out of the lake. The day was glorious. Blue skies, large white clouds, warm sun, no strong breeze, stunning colours nestled in between the evergreen trees. Perfect for an autumn boating expedition! Later we walked around downtown Portland, ate a meal at Flatbread Company every bit as filling as a Thanksgiving dinner - cheese and herb flatbread, lemonade (cold for him and hot, of course, for always-freezing me), and brownie sundaes for dessert. Amazing! Then it was off to do a bit of shopping together, but mostly window-shopping. We bought an unfinished wood chair and a can of stain to complete our table-and-chairs set, then a canister of herb tea after trying on some clothes we didn't buy. There was nothing traditional-Thanksgiving about our day. But it was special, set-apart, and that's what made it Thanksgiving to me. Jonathan took off work, we spent the day together, and we had fun doing it! It was perfect.

October sailboat on Panther Pond
Perfectly adorable '59 wooden boat that came up to the boat launch while we were there - I fell in love!
Beautiful building in Portland
Cold lemonade, hot lemonade & two brownie sundaes - dessert was gone too fast to get a before picture... :)

Next year, maybe I'll have the homemade Thanksgiving meal with all my family that I've been longing for since 2007. Maybe I won't. But either way, I'll find a way to make it special!