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Friday, April 24, 2015

What do Margaret Atwood and Kevin Thornton have in common? Brilliance.

When was the last time you got so excited that you started crying? You know that kind of excited happiness that just overwhelms you, and then you end up crying like a fool. Well, for me, it was last night, and I am still bursting this morning so I had to sit down to share it with all of you.

Last night I found out that a friend, Kevin Thornton, has been short listed for Best Short Story by the Crime Writers of Canada for the Arthur Ellis Awards. To be honest, I had not heard about these awards until a few years ago, but it was established in 1984. Kevin has been nominated five times, so that alone tells you his level of writing. But this year, the extra kick is that he has been nominated against Margaret Atwood. When your name starts getting put on short lists with the literary Queen of Canada, people should start paying attention. But I am not going to leave it up to Kevin to toot his own horn, as he never does.

When I first started reading Kevin's work, I found myself reading it out loud to hubby or the kids. I only read out loud when I get really into a piece, and it doesn't happen as much as I would like. I thought Kevin was only writing columns for the Today, and then happily discovered he had a blog. I would patiently wait for the morsels that he would throw out for me to devour. I was hooked. I can remember reading one piece that he did around Remembrance Day about three years ago, and at the end of it I decided that I wanted to meet him. It was around the same time that I discovered he also wrote fiction. He really does suck at self promotion. The way that Kevin uses words makes other writers like myself wish that we were better. And although he doesn't realize it, after spending any amount of time with him, I am always inspired to write something, or at least try to, because when he talks about writing, it invokes a passion or pull that only other writers can understand. It has happened with a few people in town with me over the last few years, and I feel lucky that they all share their passion so freely with the rest of us.

On May 28 the Awards will presented in Toronto, and I am so hoping that Kevin will be able to attend. Can you imagine if you were nominated against Atwood and then if he wins? No one deserves it more, Kevin works so hard, but also enjoys the whole process so much, and he is so completely humble about his talent that it just makes you like him more.

No matter what happens on the 28th, we already know you are an amazing writer Kevin, but it would be pretty sweet to take the award home and sit it on your desk and let it be a reminder of the time that you kicked Margaret Atwood's butt and made us all so proud.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

You never know what's going on behind closed doors.

If you tell me to sit down and write something professional these days, I don't have much of an issue. Although the first two columns after the election were garbage, last week I actually had friends that sent me messages and said, "I was worried about you, but this week's column shows your spark again." So even my closest friends had not realized that I have been stuck the last few weeks.

On April 2, my Aunt Jennie passed away. I was blessed in every way to have had her in my life. Even on the last day that I had talked to her, she still referred to me her as "her girl", which she had done for as long as I could remember. I had hoped in the last few months to go home to Nova Scotia to see her, but with Tim's grandmother passing away unexpectedly and life in general happening, I didn't get to make the trip. But this past summer when we were home, she made the trip from Halifax to Cape Breton for the wedding that was going on, and I am so glad we got to see each other then. Jennie was one of those people who loved unconditionally, and I always felt so lucky to be on the receiving end of her attention.

As many of you who have read any of my work over the years, I often will write about those that pass away. I often do it as a tribute to the person and their family, but it is also helps me to acknowledge the loss, and really writing is always the way that I deal with everything in life. And I couldn't bring myself to write about Jennie. If I wrote about her dying, about how awful cancer stole someone I loved again, it would be true. I would have to deal with it. And I couldn't.

Shame on any of you who said I was licking my wounds because I lost the election. Don't think I haven't heard the rumours. Shame on those who like to talk crap about others just for the fun of it. I have realized during the last few weeks that I might not have made much of a politician. I don't like the games, and I didn't like that people would say they were friends and when in fact, we were never friends, not by my definition anyway. And I suck at lying and acting like I like someone who is actually not a very nice person or negative, and I will be the first to admit it that I suck at it. I can debate until the cows come home, and I respect people who have different ideas or ideals that I do, but I more likely to say someone is not nice or full of shit than not. And that doesn't always work in politics, lol.

Besides the loss of my Jennie, our family suffered another terrible personal loss during the campaign that I have not gone public with until now. After almost 7 years of being foster parents with our agency, McMan, here in town, we found out about three weeks ago that the government put the contract out for tender, and no agency in town got the contract. St. Aidan's did not even bid the contract, so they will no longer have foster services in town either. I was and still am devastated. We worked so closely with our agency, and our workers, they often were like family as they helped us through adjusting to having new children in our home, helped us grieve when they left and cheered us on when we adopted. And after months of rumours, and absolutely no information from Children Services, our lives changed. We are now, like many foster families in town, at a loss. We know now that a company from out of town got the contract, and we are again making one of the hugest decisions we have ever made in the last few years. Will we try to put our trust in a new company that is not even from here, after feeling so betrayed by so many different experiences with foster care over the years, or do we make the decision to not foster any more? I have to tell you, we are really struggling with the decision, and feel that the government has dropped the ball and left the foster parents and the children here at a loss. I will say that Don Scott has been a support for our family during the last two years or so with various issues, but the foster care system in Alberta, and right across the country is completely broken, and these new changes will not make it any better for anyone, least of all the children in care.

So this past weekend was our birthday, and hubby(Tim)has been the only one who has known how much I have been hurting lately(never mind the regular every day stress crap besides). So he spontaneously took me out to Live Bar and Grill for supper, and to see an old friend, Brennan MacDonald, sing for a few hours. It was just the kick in the pants that I needed. That, and I had some great time with great friends over the last few days who always lift my spirits.

I will miss Jennie so much, there are very few in your life that will love you no matter what you say or do or think, and I have lost one of those people in Jennie. I was lucky enough to have had her in the first place, and I will try to move forward remembering that instead of staying stuck.

This picture was from this past summer.
And this is Brennan with some of his siblings in their mother's kitchen. If you get a chance to see any of them, or their band, Company Road, you won't regret it, they are the most talented bunch this side of Port Hood.