Thursday, July 31, 2014

Texas 2014 was Awesome! Part One--Tourist

Mel and me at the Alamo
I'M BACK! I'm home from San Antonio, armed with new knowledge and new plans for my writing career. I had a great time meeting new friends and bonding with my friend Mel and her son. I have so much to tell you, I don't even know where to start. I guess the beginning is good enough...

We checked in to the hotel and promptly went shopping.You know what I like about shopping in the U.S.? Cheap clothes in bigger sizes and easy access to them. Plus sizes are available in most stores, and Macy's refers to them not as PLUS sizes, but as 'Women's' sizes. How politically correct of them! I love that. I'm also a size smaller there. TMI point of amusement: I actually tried on a bra that was too big. Trust me that never happens. I don't think that's EVER happened to me before.

We checked out the Riverwalk downtown. What a great place! It's lush with foliage with a natural AND partially man-made river winding through it. Of course we took the boat tour, and would you believe our pilot, Jake, has family in Alberta? He has dual citizenship and his aunt still lives in Taber, Alberta. Small world! Anyway, it was fun and he was hilarious while pointing out all the interesting sights along the way.
This is Jake, the funny guy with dual citizenship.

We ate there a few times, and I can recommend the following restaurants--Joe's Crab Shack, Landry's Seafood, Chili's, and Casa Rio.
Mai-Tai in a Tiki-Tiki glass I got to keep at Joe's Crab Shack

Casa Rio Deluxe Dinner
Mel chose the hotel, and I think she may have picked the best one in downtown San Antonio. It was decorated in my favorite color, emerald green, which made it already seem cooler temperature wise. I dream of bedrooms like this. Literally. It was a happy place for me. No orange and brown dated decor here! La Quinta is not only decently priced, but their staff are mostly awesome and efficient. Shout out to Rebecca G., who worked like a mule for us...literally. We had a lot of luggage that she willingly helped us lug upstairs, and she handled our shopping bags too. We did a LOT of shopping. She earned every dollar we gave her. Did I mention the free breakfast? I had waffles with strawberries, whipped cream, a side of sausage, plus coffee and orange juice almost every morning. And that was good coffee!

Next day, the Alamo, which was within walking distance. So beautiful. Swarms of people can't steal the quiet grace of this monument to sacrifice. The motto is, "Remember the Alamo" and I understand why now. At first I was disappointed to see huge gardens replacing the dirt and brush I had originally envisioned there. I couldn't picture the battle for myself. But now I see. The garden was constructed for the people who died there, to respect them and bring them peace. At least that's what it feels like.

I went to the substantial giftshop. I purchased coins and maps for my beloved troll, fridge magnets for my sister, a doll for Ashley, and shot glasses for my collection. But don't worry...I'll remember the Alamo too.

Part Two will be more about the convention itself, but I didn't think you'd want to read about the whole trip in one sitting. There's much more to say.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Summers are Short. This Blog is Long. Life is Good.

I've made a healthy decision. I'm not stressing out ANY MORE. I'm writing, and that's good, but the less I push, the more the writing flows. It also helps to take ones laptop and morning coffee outside and write paragraphs between smelling the roses and watching the cats chase bugs. One can also pull weeds while one is pondering sentences and descriptives.

Why should I stay inside washing walls and doing renovations when it's a gorgeous 27 degrees Celsius outside?--While a sweet smelling summer breeze wafts over the tomatoes? I need to rethink my priorities in a new way.

Nothing is more important than writing. Except maybe cats. And beloved trolls. But I've decided I desperately need the vitamin D, and THAT will make Donna a better writer and an easier person to live with.

Winters in Canada, especially this last one have the endurance equaled only by arctic climates and Game of Thrones.

It's time to cut myself a break and enjoy my friends, my family and the weather. To warp a tired cliche, all work and no play makes for drab writing and an unhappy Donna.

I have vivid and unusual dreams. I had a real whopper a week ago. It was a 'train' dream, which for me, usually means a change in career or job. For some reason, I don't think so this time. This is something else.

Bear with me. I'd love some input.

A nasty storm was coming. I looked out my bedroom window to see how bad it was. Instead of my street, I saw an elaborate gondola/rail system dispatching purple two-seater pods. I ran outside to investigate, and found a two story station in the middle of my street, at the end of my driveway. I climbed the stairs to investigate.

A train car sat awaited passengers. I glanced past it to see black thunderheads approaching from the Southwest. Since I hate thunderstorms and had nothing better to do, I hopped on for a ride.

It was a  maiden-voyage celebration, with champagne and streamers. Swag and collectables were passed around as we sped through Edmonton to small towns. We got off and toured those small towns along the way. I even remember some of the names. For the record, I don't think towns like 'Adams', 'Boots', and 'Zoom' exist in Alberta, but they had buildings and grain elevators with those names on them.

We turned to go back to Edmonton, and I found people I knew on the way back. (No one I know in reality) I showed them around the train--more champagne, better swag including personalized bottles of tequila (I HATE tequila) and I found both a Slurpee bar AND  a breakfast bar. I don't recall getting home.

Weird huh? I think I told you readers because it was intense and wonderful and spontaneous. Like life should be.

It's too late (or too early) for New Year's Resolutions, but I'm going to make this my best summer ever. I refuse to be fettered by the unrealistic expectations I've placed upon myself. Wall washing and renovations can wait (Just wear your shoes when you walk on my kitchen floor, kay?)

Saturday I spent with friends having lunch and getting a spa treatment. Sunday I spent goofing off at a lingerie party with old and new friends I met at a pagan wedding. Tomorrow, I'm indulging in 'Snobby Beer Night' with friends I haven't seen since Christmas and on Tuesday I'M GOING TO TEXAS.

I may not blog next week. I'll be too busy learning my craft, networking, meet new friends, eating Texas Barbecue, and hanging with one of the best friends I never expected to have. It's time to enjoy myself.

I hope your summer is fabulous. I'm going to make sure mine IS.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

A post for Mel

I keep complaining about being busy, I know. Better to be busy than bored, honestly. I've given myself permission to slack off on the blogging for the summer. Why not? Everybody takes a holiday at this time of year, why not writers?

Well, okay, writers don't actually take vacations. We're always writing in our heads somehow. Do you know how many blogs I've written in the last month that didn't make it here? Five.
Some were boring, or just too boring to complete. Some were too negative to publish.

But I am excited about this. A lot of writers are. It's called the Romance Writer's of America Convention. I can't wait! This year it's in San Antonio, Texas.

I feel like Cinderella. Costs were such that I was sure I couldn't go. None of the friends I met on the Washington trip were going, so no roommates for pricey hotels. I couldn't afford a room, air fare, and the cost of the ticket to the convention itself, all by myself.

Enter Melaida Corpuz, Modern Day Fairy Godmother. ( as in, God, I love you, mama!)

Isn't she beautiful? Mel videotaping my wedding. Photo by: Dawn Dalton
We went for lunch (All you can eat Japanese, of course) and on the way there I moaned and cried at how impossible my dream destination was.  She said, "I'd like to talk to you about that later." It suggested she had a solution, but I didn't see one. I assumed that because she's a part time travel agent and a world traveler, that she'd try to help, but probably still couldn't find me something I could afford.

I was wrong.

Turns out a certain airline screwed up Mel's departure from San Diego  to the point that they offered her free airfare for herself and a guest to any American city. Do you see where this is going? When she went on Facebook and asked the general public where she should go, I suggested Washington D.C. since I had such a great experience there.

I never thought she would share her ticket  with ME.

Mel asked if it would be cool if we went to San Antonio together and she and I could hang out together--When I wasn't doing the seminars, of course. She booked a less expensive hotel which is DIRECTLY across from the Marriott where the convention is held. I think I wept. My insides jellied. Gobsmackedness.

Oh yeah...How much cheaper? At least $40 a night cheaper. Want her travel agent website? Here it is:

Wanna know some things weird? How about some backstory? Melaida and I are literally one day apart in ages. She's at least 10 1/2 hours older than me.

We went to junior high and highschool together, as VERY different people. We weren't fond of each other. She was religious, and I was a headbanger. Not a good mix. If you would have told either of us that we would become best friends, one of us would have beaten you up. Not saying who. ;)

Maturity and Facebook creates strange situations I'm freakin' grateful for. Besides Mel, I've found others I knew in highschool that I never knew cared about me, and my God, I love them too, but Mel is especially special.

The photo I published of her from my wedding, for example...that was her gift to me, to video tape my wedding. Later she tells me she wished she had me on video when I opened the wedding album she assembled for us personally SQUEAL!!

I can never really repay this awesome sweetness she did. I can't wait to spend this trip with her. Melaida Corpuz, I LOVE you!! Thanks for everything and all your thoughtfulness! <3

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Happy Canada Day!!

Yeah, yeah, it's not Thursday and this blog is two days early. I'm making up for the times I've been late. :)

I'm taking today to tell you that I am a proud Canadian. And at the risk of sounding like a Molson Canadian beer commercial...

I am a hockey fan, of course. My favorite team is the Edmonton Oilers, but my favorite hockey player is Brendan Shanahan.

I like beer, preferably Canadian made, because let's face it. We make GREAT beer.

I am polite. Most times. Unless you are insulting my team and I'm out of beer.

My husband wears a Canadian tuxedo. That means he wears jeans, a denim shirt and a jean jacket, and therefore looks like a handsome, casual Canadian man.

I don't actually say 'eh?' all the time. That's a misconception about us brought on by SCTV and other Canadian comedians from the eighties. (Take off, eh? Hoser.)

I vote. My foremothers busted their asses just be be given the right to do so. Our history books tell us that it was once deemed that "No woman, lunatic or criminal shall vote." I consider it my responsibility to educate myself on my city's, province's, and country's politics so I can make a firm decision on how I want things run.  If you want to see a lunatic and/or criminal, take away my right to vote. Don't ask me who I vote for. I'm also non-confrontational. It is your right and mine to choose as we wish.

I'm big on acceptance and equality. For EVERYONE.

My country is multicultural. We have races from all over the world living here. That means a smorgasbord of good-looking and fascinating people of various backgrounds and lots of tasty ethnic restaurants in which to have dinner with them.

I like poutine and caesers...

For those of you who aren't Canadian, poutine is french fries covered in gravy and cheese curds. It's almost un-patriotic not to like it. A caeser is a drink much like a Bloody Mary invented in Calgary, Alberta.  It's vodka and Clamato juice, and the rim of your glass is coated with celery salt. Recipes vary, and if you' like to know mine, just ask in the comments. My secret is a healthy spritz of organic lemon juice.

Cause I just tried an experiment for Canada Day and that's the recipe I want to share here. I actually got the inspiration from a July 4th ice cream shot idea I saw on Facebook. This one :

I thought, "Nice! But I don't have that kind of time right now, and I don't know about the food coloring bit." I wanted something red, white and fresh. This my recipe for...

CANADA DAY ICE CREAM SHOTS....This is why the blog is two days early, see?

1 shot glass full of UV Cake vodka per
I cup of vanilla ice cream (Preferably Chapman's No Sugar Added)
Fresh sliced strawberries
McGrath's White Chocolate Irish Cream Liquor
Disposable wine glasses

Mix 1 shot of UV cake vodka into each cup of ice cream used until well blended. (Next time, I'm using a food processor) I found that three cups of ice cream and 3 shots of vodka made 12 shots, filled roughly half way up the disposable wine glass.. Place in freezer and let set.

Wash and cut fresh strawberries into small pieces. About 454 grams (1 pound) was enough for said dozen. Place in a bowl of water, and put into fridge until ready to use.

When ready to serve, take disposable ice cream glasses from freezer, and top each one with strawberries. Douse each glass liberally with McGrath's white chocolate liquor, about 1/2 shot, and serve. A dollop of whipped cream couldn't hurt either, but I forgot to buy that.

 So Happy Canada Day to you all!!