Life in progress


#ThursdayDoors and Cee’s Fun Photos – Museum of Nature, Ottawa, Canada

In August, I went with my museum-loving son to Ottawa to visit, among others, the Canadian Museum of Nature. The museum is housed in a beautiful, historic building.

There’s more history to this place than I can recount in one sitting. Here’s just a small sample:

“After the burning of the Parliament Buildings on the night of 3rd February, 1916, the House of Commons assembled in this building on the 4th and the Senate on the 8th February. Parliament met here for the last time on the 10th November, 1919 and assembled for the first time in the rebuilt Parliament Buildings on 26th February, 1920.”

I love taking pictures of doors when I can see them from the outside as well as in. Please click on any of the images to take a closer look.

It’s impossible to get the whole building in one shot from the front because the road is too narrow and there are houses across the street. But I did find this neat site, where you can slide the cursor back and forth to see a before (1912) and after (2013, when they renovated): The photo is taken from the northeast – apparently the road was too narrow to get a full shot even a century ago.

If you enjoyed this post and would like to see more doors and participate, too, please visit Norm Frampton’s site here for links and instructions.

Cee’s Fun Photo Challenge this week is also all about entrances and doors! Here’s her link as well:

Thanks to Norm and Cee for the prompts!


Canada – Today and Tomorrow


In light of the shootings yesterday in the city of Ottawa, and the subsequent statements I keep hearing that our country has changed, I can’t not say something.

As a nation of people who are often accused of having an identity crisis, we ourselves wonder who we are, and how we fit in. With our English spellings and our love of American television, we have been known as the “51st State,” though when we go to court, it’s us against the Crown. When asked to define Canada we come up with adjectives like, “big,” “culturally diverse,” or “the place where poutine and insulin were invented.” We are a nation of coffee-drinking hockey players who talk about the weather and say “sorry” when someone bumps into us.

Ours is a land populated with people who care about their towns, their cities, their neighbours and their country. We’re proud of our peacefulness. So can one act of violence change that? I’m here to say, quite loudly, NO.

At the moment we are reacting, and yes, it is deeply disturbing that on an ordinary day in the nation’s capital, a soldier standing on honour guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier could be shot and killed. But while we are reacting, we are focusing on the family of the man who was lost. Because that is who we are.

It is in our nature as Canadians to pull together, to care for each other. And for all Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s statement that, “we will not be intimidated,” might refer to our government, it stands for our citizens as well. We CAN not be intimidated. We are nation of 35 million who feel the responsibility to protect one another.

That is something about Canada that will never change.


A Day at the Opera

My trip to Ottawa to go backstage at the National Arts Centre was amazing! I managed to talk to a few of the staff members, including stage managers, prop builders, and lighting staff, I ate lunch in the green room, and took loads of photos.

Photo from one of the box seats

Photo from one of the box seats

There are four stages there; the seating for the largest is above.

View from the back of the stage

View from the back of the stage

I found out some handy tidbits of info. It is indeed possible to get horses on stage (in my novel, my character uses horses in his magic act). I was told they’ve had an elephant on this stage.

The stage will also hold a thirty foot ladder

The stage will also hold a thirty foot ladder

My novel also has a ladder as a prop. I discovered yesterday how tall it can be – and also how they would set it up so it won’t fall.


The backstage corridors are like a maze. I got lost.

The ladies chorus dressing room

The ladies chorus dressing room

Getting ready to go onstage

Getting ready to go onstage

(No, that’s not me.)


I had to find out what this was!

Apparently, a vomitory in a theatre isn’t somewhere you go to upchuck your lunch. It’s a quick exit from the stage. I learned something new!

I actually learned a lot of things–details–I will use in my novel. Even if the whole ten hour trip results in the fact that I know how to get a large animal on stage, that I know how many rungs my magician’s assistant will have to climb and whether they enter and exit stage left or right–and all this results in a couple of sentences or a paragraph–I will have accurate details! An essential part of any novel worth its weight, in my estimation.

Exit stage right

Exit stage right


Rock-Star Writer

I feel like a rock-star sometimes.

Look at me here, with my happy-go-lucky lifestyle

Not a care in the world but

My laptop with my novel open

To the juicy bits – the personalities with

their fabulous lives and exciting drama

their ups and downs and their

…oh their endless passions

and love.

I’m a rock star.

My characters make me so.

Do you ever live vicariously through your characters? I’m thinking about my upcoming trip to Ottawa where I will go backstage at the National Arts Centre to see the dressing rooms and the back hallways where the stars meet. I’ll go on stage and look out at all the seats and maybe I’ll do a little dance.  But it’s not just the fact that my main character happens to be a performer. There’s so much more going on in his life than that; it’s only a facet of who he is.

My fictional characters go through their own lives with the dramas and fears and loves that I only wish I could experience. Sure, sometimes they are tortured by those very same things. But their stories are interesting – worth telling. Is my own life worth a tale? Sometimes, I suppose. But not like the lives of my characters. They live out loud, doing things I can only dream of having the opportunity to do.

I suppose all writers of fiction live, at times, in the imaginary world where their characters exist. A fantasy world, if you will, where not even the sky is the limit, and where unexpected things happen.

Once in a very rare while, I feel like I’m really there. And in a way my research will take me there. I’ll have my notepad and pen and my camera on hand to record the moment, but for the most part I’ll be living it.

Has it happened to you? I’d love to know.