Friday, November 30, 2007

I'm Sure I'd Rather Be Writing - Where Its Warm!

Well, I wish I could report more writing, but I do too much working instead. Yesterday morning, I left Taber, Alberta bound for Red Deer with almost 44 metric tons of sugar beet pellets in my two trailers. Everything went well, except that my truck was in the shop and the one I borrowed had poor heat. I got loaded up quickly and was off. The next few hours were spent flying down the highway while regularly scraping frost off my side windows. When the sun finally came out, it helped a lot.
I drove north, deciding to take Highway 21 (A two lane road with light traffic) instead of Highway 2 (A four-lane road with heavy traffic). At 110 kph, as I powered up to climb out of a long, deep coolie (a valley), I caught a glimpse of something in the ditch behind me. It was a puff of snow shot into the air. I gazed into my driver's side mirror in time to see a pair of my trailer's tires rolling through the ditch and into nowhere land! I had felt no strange vibrations or had I seen anything to betray the problem when I had inspected my trailers two-and-a-half hours before. At the top of the hill, where the road widened, I pulled over and had a look. All that was left of my tires was the mangled hub and chewed up brake pads! I was so glad I had taken the less travelled road!!! A 300 pound, 100km per hour, rolling projectile would not have done good things to a car! Or the occupants!!!!
Eventually, I drove slowly, the 19km to the town of Acme, Alberta where the good guys at Redline helped me out. We returned to the scene to get the lost tires. They were still together, complete with the heavy steel brake drum attached. Weird, that they didn't come apart.
Once back in Acme, I was given the repair news. I expected to find a Wile-E-Coyote parts supply store in the tiny town, but was disappointed. Some of my needed parts had to come from Calgary - the next day! Joy! Well, one of the guys just happened to live either in or near Calgary, and offered to pick up the parts I needed on his way to work. I left Acme hoping to be back on the road by 9:30am the next day.
I drove to Three Hills, Alberta and checked into the Super 8. Very nice! And better than that, it was warm!!!! I felt like Sam Magee from Tennessee in Robert Service's poem, "Since I left Plum Tree, down in Tennessee, this is the first time I've been warm!"
Right now, it is nearly 8am, the day after, and I am eating an awesome breakfast at the warm hotel/motel. My cold truck is plugged in outside waiting for the key to return. (Must I go back out there??? It's -17 Celsius!) I'll let you know how it turns out...., but Kudos to Lori and the rest of the Super 8 staff in Three Hills as well as to John and the other workers at Redline in Acme. Thanks for coming to work and thanks for the awesome jobs you are doing!!! :)

Friday, November 23, 2007

A Suit, a Coat and a Snow Shovel

Nine thirty on Wednesday morning, I found myself southbound through the town of Coaldale, Alberta. It all seemed ordinary – I mean, I have driven my Super B grain truck through the small town who knows how many times? This morning, however, things were different. As I rolled through the stoplight and passed the school, I was alert for moving cars, trucks and people. About a block south of the school, something caught my searching eyes. It was a young man dressed in a black suit and standing beside a pure white car. Our first snow had fallen overnight, and the streets weren’t exactly the place to stand in your shiny black dress shoes. I did a double take. Nevertheless, there he was, big as life.

My second look was longer than the first, and in those few seconds, I formed an opinion. In those few seconds, I jumped to conclusions that, while not certain, I felt that they were probable.

The car was a clean, white hearse. Just in from the curb, where the car sat, an old lady walked on her snow-covered sidewalk. She was holding a snow shovel and looked careworn. From its colours, her coat appeared to be borrowed from the 1970’s, yet it seemed sound. Compassion welled up within me as I took it in. The clean-cut gentleman, standing by the white car, appeared to be waiting for her. She had probably just lost her husband, yet there she was, cleaning her walks and wearing a coat that she had carefully looked after for decades. Perhaps she had looked after her failing husband with the same tender care? My semi rolled on by, but I was left with a chest full of feelings. Compassion. Respect. Admiration. Would I just go about getting things done if I had just lost my wife? I felt convicted by my conscience. If that happened to me, I would most likely be holding the pity part of the century! What an example of doing what all living things should do – live. Live, in spite of whatever troubles may come.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Of all things... A lighthouse cartoon!! Cool!!

This past week has found me putting in lots of hours at work. Sorry I haven't got to posting, but finally, here I am. A few days ago, my daughter's boyfriend sent me this link to a lighthouse comic strip. I laughed and laughed. Maybe I found it so funny cuz I have some practical experience with this sort of thing, but maybe you all will enjoy it too.

As for my first fiction novel, "In Ravenscrag's Shadow", I am approaching 10,000 words, but I'm not quite there yet. For the most part, I have written it on my laptop, utilizing tiny blocks of free time in my workday. For those of you who don't know, I drive a double trailer semi, hauling grain around so that cows can eat, get fat, and ... well, you know the rest. I often have to wait for other trucks to empty or to load, and whenever it looks like a few free minutes will present themselves, I grab on with both hands. Since I have so little free time, this technique is also how my first book was written. That book is more appropriately named, however, "Three Seconds On, Three Seconds Off". Some days, I take out my laptop and three seconds is all I get!

Speaking of
"Three Seconds On, Three Seconds Off - Volume 1", the editor is still working his magic and I am just waiting (and writing more stuff). I do expect to hear something soon. On a very positive note, my publisher has taken a look at my artwork (I do my own interpretation of west coast native drawings). He liked it very much and wants to include most, if not all of it in Volume 1. It takes me a long time to complete a piece, but I do have a few to choose from. I need to get the 8 1/2 x 11 inch drawings digitized soon. Maybe this weekend - if I don't have to work again.
Later.... and Thanks for dropping in.

Monday, November 12, 2007

My First Book Review

"The tale of a family that turned isolation into adventure. Bigelow's
writing style draws you into his world, with descriptive and personal
language that has you hearing the laughter and smelling the salt air. A
piece of real, live Canadian history, "Three Seconds On, Three Seconds
Off" is enlightening and uplifting story-telling.

Bruce Streibel
Faculty of Fine Arts
University of Lethbridge

Thanks for the literary ride. Cheers!"

The "Comments" option?

One of my readers was kind enough to write a note to me on her blog and let me know that she could no longer post comments on my blog. I looked into it, and hopefully the "comment" option will appear on this post. If I did repair the problem, the repair wasn't retroactive. I tried editing my last post, and then republishing it, but that didn't work. Here goes nothin'

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Lest We Forget...

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place;
and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the dead.
Short days ago
We lived, saw dawn, felt sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved,
and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up your quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw The torch;
be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep,
though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
Written by Doctor Major (later Lieutenant-Colonel) John McCrae (1872-1918) of the 1st Field Artillery Brigade wrote this poem on May 3, 1915 after the battle at Ypres. The poem was later published in "Punch", December 8, 1915. John McCrae served in the Canadian Army.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

A Worthy Adventure!!!

You won't believe it if I told you! (But I'm going to give it a shot anyway.) As of the evening of November 4th, I am writing a fiction novel of 50,000 words - by the end of the month! Sounds wild? Check out the website that is hosting this wild event. OR just click on my link at the top right of this blog.
My daughter, Amberle as well as her boyfriend, Josh both told me about it so I took a look and was hooked.
Here is my progress so far:
Nov 5th - Outlined the basic plot and story from start to finish.

Nov 5th, 6th - Researched names for the characters and places - (they all came from the place name list from the Canadian Province of Saskatchewan).

Nov 7th, 8th, 9th - Assigned names to everyone and everything in the novel. Expanded the story into detailed structure. It went from a one page outline to five pages.

Today, Nov 10th - Strap on my microphone and tell the story to my computer - (it will write it from my dictation). I'll let you know how far I get.

A brief outline of the novel: Glen McPherson and Stan Calderbank leave their wives, Lille and Alida (respectively) at their base camp near a beautiful lake nestled in the Mistawasis Mountains to pursue a five day backpacking adventure. Near the end of the first day, the two middle aged men are exploring off the trail when they fall, badly injuring themselves. The area is several hundred yards from their packs and is extremely rocky and rugged. Big C (Stan) sustains a broken femur, three broken ribs, a concussion and several cuts and bruises. Stan's trauma is worse because, during the fall, Glen is knocked unconscious and partially lands on top of Stan. Glen is also bruised and bloodied, but is still able to move about. His left ankle is so badly hurt that he's not sure if it is broken, but it cannot bear any weight.
The two adventurers know that no one will come searching for them for five days, and that they will have to survive unaided. The remote area is home to bears, among other creatures, so Glen will not leave Stan alone while he hobbles the five kilometers back to their pickup truck to get help.

9:49AM - 812 words written
1:51PM - 2431 words written - I love this fiction thing - it is so awesome!!! :)

Saturday, November 3, 2007

A Warm "Hello"

This past week or so, my blog has crossed a language barrier. I have been visited by a woman in Madrid, Spain who is writing a novel. Her blog is in Spanish, but she left some English comments on my blog entry dated Oct 6, 2007. Her blog is, for anyone wanting to visit it. (There is a little English for the uni-lingual.) A few other readers have also visited my blog, and I find it so awesome! A visitor from New Delhi, India, one from Torino, Italy, two more from Spain, one from Singapore, Australia, Belgium, Germany, Brazil, Jamaica , Norway, Korea and a few others have also dropped in, bringing my list of non-North American visitors to at least twenty. In my upcoming book, just past the fly leaf, it says,
my family and friends
and to all of you,
other friends
I haven’t met…
When I layed the humble beginnings of this blog, it never occurred to me that so many would be so interested so soon. I mean, I haven't even published yet, and a curious audience of nice people are already gathering in anticipation. So far, no one has even mentioned a stash of rotten vegetables they are waiting to throw. :) Now I have imaginations of unpopular, Medieval, outdoor, stage plays! :) :) I shouldn't have gone there, but oh well. Now that I have, can't you just see the smelly old hag at the back - the one with the ratty hair, rotten teeth and oozing lettuce? "Incoming!" I can hardly type for the laughter!
At any rate, the very kind reception I have so far received on the World Wide Web, is both amazing and overwhelming. So... thanks... Thanks to all of you, other friends I have now met, and to you who will yet drop in for a visit. It is good to meet you all.