Archives for posts with tag: Margaret Kell Virany

How to choose books for your unique avatar

What would  you choose if you wanted to take a picture of  a few of your favorite books, not more than seven inches wide when stood together? The names of two websites I like,  ‘Books ‘R Us’ and ‘Books Tell Us Why’, gave me the seeds of this idea for a new avatar. It would be right for the task, less random and superficial than a mug shot.

My books are shelved up- and down-stairs all over the house so it was a good exercise. Digital,  thumbed-over, dog-eared, faded, curled, moldy, soiled, frayed, ripped, incomplete, taped, sagging, spineless specimens wouldn’t do. I needed color and titles that would be attractive. What photogenic line-up could be readily assembled ?

After I’d made my choices and taken the shot, there seemed to be some categories and sense to it all. If you want to show who you are  by presenting a few books, for an avatar or any other reason, here are my tips. You have to love them because they are all of these things:

  • Useful: An indispensable reference book for your favorite passion or hobby
  • Fun: An entertaining, exciting novel or fantasy book that carries you away to another world
  • Shocking: A nonfiction exposé that stimulates your curiosity and thirst to get at the truth about what really happened
  • For the mind and soul: A book that is a mentor and idol to give you an intellectual boost and spiritual understanding
  • For social identity: A biographical history of a person or group  who align with your  own career path, background and type of  companions
  • From your family: A history or autobiography written by you or a relative

My books in the photo above are, from left to right:

  1. A collection of recipes which reflect my childhood and perpetual delight in good food, especially when cooked by loving people and served at communal events like harvest suppers, strawberry socials and silver teas. Someone suggested to me that ‘Who Cooked the Last Supper?’ might have been a better title than ‘Eating at Church.’
  2. The Black Tulip by Alexander Dumas. Hundreds of others would have done but only this one had a red cover, gold lettering and the sentimental value of having been a gift from my son when he was a boy.
  3. The Pagan Christ. As a willful (but good) minister’s daughter, I was always interested in the pagan customs and natural images unsuccessfully squelched but peculiarly integrated into Christianity.
  4.  Northrop Frye Myth and Metaphor: Selected Essays 1974-88. My class notes of his lectures are included in those now appearing online for public access at http://www.fryeblog.blog.lib.mcmaster.ca/, Robert D. Denham library collection.
  5. Sweet Sixteen, the story of the 16 irrepressible woman journalists who formed the first Canadian Women’s Press Club while on a privileged train trip to the St. Louis World Fair in 1904. I  belong to their renamed club.
  6. A Book of Kells: Growing Up in an Ego Void (http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00440DQNA), the 20th century family memoir I wrote about my parents and me.

Are you books? What favorites would win your book contest? We love to get comments and browsers so please make yourself at home!

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rabbitfur2

The magic of writing a memoir is like pulling a rabbit out of a hat, only in reverse. That’s my new theory. When my mother posed for this picture in 1928, just after marrying, coming to Canada and starting life on an Indian reserve, she had no idea I’d write a book from her love letters and adventures some day.

Imagine my joy at receiving these emails from two of the first avid readers of Kathleen’s Cariole Ride in its paperback edition. They’re from Catherine and Fred Dunlop, my second cousins who have a beautiful farm and family.

Here’s what Catherine says about the book, so eloquently:

“Margaret – I have just finished reading this wonderful book and I still have tears in my eyes, it is so well written. Mental images appear with the flow of your words and they transport me, it seems, right into that setting.
I am not a writer, but I am a voracious reader and I so enjoy how you can make a scene come to life with just descriptive passages. I laughed, I shook my head in disbelief many times and, as I said, cried when I had finished. I cannot say enough about this wonderful gift of love to your parents. I am going to order several today. I want to put one in our local library and I also want to give each of our children a copy. Uncle Jack baptized all three of our children.
I often called Uncle Jack ‘the oldest teenager I know’ and he seemed to enjoy that. We also had many discussions around theology topics. He was a man thinking unlike many of the ministers of his time. Aunt Kay was always so quiet and reserved but, once, she and I were talking out in my kitchen as I was cutting meat and she seemed vitally interested in my life, asking me questions about how I was coping with motherhood and a busy husband. Her way of saying “I know exactly what you are going through”?
Anyway, thank you for writing this story, THEIR story, so beautifully.

Catherine”

And here’s what Fred, who sent the photos, had to say:

“Good morning Margaret – we found this picture of your parents in a family trunk that mom had put away. The picture is in a frame made of rabbit skin. Mom has written on the back of the picture Rev Kell, Aunt Kathleen, Oxford House. Manitoba, 1925 (about)
love
Fred”

Some people just have all the luck when it comes to parents and cousins, so I have a grateful heart I wanted to share with you.

Thank you for dropping by. This blog for all lovers of life and language aims to be useful and entertain. To order a copy of Kathleen’s Cariole Ride, please click here.

Happy Reading from Cozy Book Basics!

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“Thank-you!” says the i-phone clutching prospect and moves on

With more than half of my Thursday stint at the author corner in Ottawa’s Byward Market expired and no books sold, I felt blue. My husband and the author beside me left. The manager of the Crazy Moose souvenir shop across the street was not daft enough to take my books on consignment, even  when I told him I had sold eight in two stints over the past ten days. “Nobody reads anymore,” he said. “If you’ve sold that many books in your booth then that’s the way to do it.” The conflict of the Twilight of the Gods of paper and digital is on and every author and bookseller feels it in the pocket.

On my own as the most aggressive of our selling trio, I figured I would complete the day my way, relying on eye contact as well as waiting for a customer to appear.  Here’s what I did before I sold two books and was able to call my day a trumpian success, considering the state of our universe:

  • Stood tall inside my booth to be conspicuous
  • Smiled and relaxed
  • Got into the mood of happy shopping, sesquicentennial celebrating and traveling
  • Controled my grooving to the music rocking the square as I scanned the passing crowd for intelligent faces
  • Rejected those eating ice cream cones or $5 stuffed potato halves that might mess up my books
  • Skipped those preoccupied with their own devices
  • Trusted my eyes to focus on someone who was compatible in some way with me, my writing and my readers (real and imagined)
  • When my gaze was returned, I lifted my eyebrows cordially and tilted my head back a bit as an invitation to them to come over 

Fate ridiculed me by making me oblivious to a woman who sneaked up to look at one of my cookbooks I had left littering the other author’s table at my side. She didn’t have $15 so I lowered the price to $10 and the sale made us both happy.

Then I saw a bent-over, gray-haired woman purposefully propelling herself and her full bag with the aid of a deluxe cane towards her parked car. As she passed by I caught her eye.  She lifted her face to convey a respectful, smiling nod to literacy. I said boldly and clearly to her disappearing back, “I have a very good book for you” and she indicated she would return.

She asked me to tell her about my book and we quickly found common ground.  We both appreciated writing with carefully chosen words, criticism and looking at issues like the residential school tragedies from all sides. She complimented me on my New York Times newsprint dress and wondered if it also came in French. She translates English into French for the federal government. By the time she bought the book and I signed it we were friends. She was Paule (pronounced “Pole”) and I was “Margo” (with a handwritten note giving the name of a chanteur who wrote a song by that title).

To me that was selling books at its best: two persons, strangers only seconds ago, making a pact to keep reading stuff on paper alive.

Happy Reading, Writing and Bookselling!

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Prospects for selling my book at the Byward Market in Ottawa when I arrived at 10 a.m. Wednesday looked as dim as the thunderstorm forecast. Still, I bet myself I could sell enough copies (five) in the next six hours to buy tickets for a big treat. I defied the skies to clear in time for a picnic with our granddaughters and their parents before watching the preview performance of theater under the stars on the banks of the Rideau River that night. mmarket.jpgWork crews carrying partitions, shopkeepers rushing with arms full to set up for the day, twosomes and threesomes speaking languages other than English brushed past. Where were my buyers?

  • The atmosphere enlivened at lunch time, with music and dancing in the adjacent square attracting a noisy, lively crowd. A quarrel between someone not quite in his right senses and a big truck disrupted the self improvement, creative atmosphere I was trying to inject.
  • A dreary-eyed, homeless man with his bundles and bags slouched up against the bricks, heritage plaque and sesquicentennial posters on the market building facing me. Where were my readers?

It was discouraging and my devoted hubby of 61 years decided I was crazy and he might as well abandon ship and go home.  While he hesitated, I was ready with my elevator pitch to summarize my book in two sentences.

  • Anyone drawn to the table for a closer look at my framed newspaper article headlined “Call of Love in the Wilderness” got it. An old toothless man mesmerized by a 1904 picture of my mother as a child in a sailor outfit stayed because he wanted to hear her full story.
  • With a cheery “Hi Margaret!” up strode author Stevie Szabad, eager to buy two of my books and pick up advice from someone she perceived as having accomplished things she wanted to do. We plotted to sell together at the Galeries Aylmer Christmas market. 

Hubby stayed when I reminded him I was there to get my parents’ exemplary story out, not just sell the product. A take-out lunch of chicken sandwiches and smoothies fortified us both. 

  • Then a ray of sunshine, a tourist from Vancouver, suddenly appeared. He wanted to know more about why I called my book “A Book of Kells” and gave me advice on genealogy. He bought a signed copy as a gift and souvenir of Canada’s 150th.
  • A particularly friendly face came to the table confidently and I was able to engage her in conversation. For the next twenty minutes Tom and I found we had much to share with her and vice versa. Gale O’Brien is a lovely, avid reader who lives in Britannia by the Ottawa river. She now owns one copy of A Book of Kells and one of  Kathleen’s Cariole Ride which I hope she will enjoy reading.
  • When Kelly Buell turned up because she had been following me online, Tom was getting the car because it was 4 p.m., time for us to pack up. Kelly and I chatted and hope to help each other in future as writers so often do.

When I first met the organizer of the Byward marketing team and showed her my book, she told me she is a ‘Kell’ on her mother’s side. I was able to inform lovely, competent Megan Sartori that we are second cousins twice removed. 

By the way, the outdoor performance in Strathcona Park was superb. My granddaughters, aged 10 to 16 were absolutely thrilled with The Amorous Servant by Carl Goldoni staged by Odyssey theater. Grandpa and Grandma enjoyed its humor and sensible advice for all ages, too.

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Happy Reading & Writing from Cozy Book Basics until We Meet Again!

Credit: Library & Archives Canada, Acc. No. 1982-124

Lucky me. I’ll be selling my books and displaying aboriginal artifacts this Sunday afternoon at a site once inhabited by the tribe who greeted the pilgrims on the Atlantic shore. No. The above picture is not a Currier & Ives Christmas card. It is a steel engraving by William H. Barlett famously published in Canadian Scenery Illustrated in 1842. As in the picture,  people will be gathering at the Lake Deschenes bend in the Ottawa River to be warmed and refreshed amid the nostalgic aura of dormer windows, conjoint staircases and veranda vistas.

  • The event this time (Dec. 4) is a light show and artisans’ sale after the Santa Claus parade down Main Street and the Christmas Bazaar at the British Hotel.
  • The Kitchi Sibi Anishinabeg first inhabited this site thousands of years ago. Chief Tessouat was a busy commercial middleman in the years of the fur trade. Champlain and his voyageur explorers rested at this pleasant spot in 1613. They thought they had found a route to China but at least were the first to get as far as Lake Huron. Charles Symmes from Woburn, MA built the Inn in 1831 and helped his uncle Philemon Wright found the townsite. Pioneer settlers made their way to Aylmer from Montreal by stage  coach and stayed overnight before continuing their journey. This was the landing place for busy steamboat traffic.
  • When we moved to Aylmer in 1976 we built a sailboat (from a kit) and berthed it at the Marina (above). One day after sailing I saw one of our municipal councilors, Denise Friend, charge across the parking lot to accost some gentlemen stepping out of a black limousine. They were officials of the Quebec government and had a purse to spend on heritage projects. Soon news came that the historic Inn reduced to rubble after being used as a flea market and consumed by a fire was to be restored. It re-opened in a good imitation of its former glory in 1978.
  • Today it is a Museum with fine exhibits as well as being a heritage gem of the Outaouais region. It will always be at the heart of the townsfolk of the Aylmer sector of the city of Gatineau. That’s why my books, indigenous artifacts and I will be smiling so happily from the inn-side this Sunday. The artifacts I have include a birch-bark basket, two birch-bark trivets, an ermine hat and scarf set and a pair of embroidered moccasin slippers. They’re from my parents’ days as missionaries on the Cree reservation at Oxford House, MN in the roaring twenties. Their story is told in A Book of Kells: Growing Up in an Ego Void and Kathleen’s Cariole Ride.
  • Merry pre-Christmas season to you too!

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Eating

The Spring Supper fills the church hall to overflowing for two sittings. Roast turkey with all the trimmings is the main dish, with members bringing them already cooked from home.

Roast Turkey

“It is all in the preparation.

“The turkey is washed clean and dried. The giblets are
removed and cooked in water, eaten at leisure, and as a base
for the gravy.

“The bird is stuffed at both ends with the dressing (see below),
sealed up with metal pins and placed on a rack in the roasting
pan. The turkey is covered in a thin layer of olive oil-based
margarine, sprinkled with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.

“Place it in the oven with water in the roasting pan and no
cover for the first 30-45 minutes; then cover and cook for the
desired length of time (until the legs are very loose). Remove
cover again for the last 15 minutes until golden brown.”

Turkey Dressing

“Fresh and/or stale bread is left out for a couple of hours
before tearing and crumbling by hand. A mix of brown and
white bread is always good. Always make more than you think
you will need.

“Chop two or three good-sized onions, as well as two or three
garlic buds. Add to bread.

“Mix together the usual blending of spices which is never the
same but always the same – marjoram, sage, poultry
seasoning, celery salt, sea salt and pepper. How much? you
ask. Until it smells good and looks right and darkens the
bread. Then add a small quantity of olive oil and some
margarine until all the bread is slightly moist. That’s as good
as it gets for describing quantities for any of the ingredients.

“As stated above, stuff the bird fairly tightly and let the
cooking begin!”

Rev. Steve Lawson

Turkey Gravy

“Have Steve remove the turkey from the roasting pan. Place
roasting pan on stove on medium-high heat.

“In Tupperware Quick Shake container (or glass jar with tight
lid) vigorously mix together 1 cup flour with 2 cups cold water.

“Slowly pour into pan with drippings and mix with a wire
whisk until it begins to thicken. As it thickens, slowly add
water. Alternately stir and add liquid, maintaining the desired
consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste.”

 

 http://www.amazon.com/Eating-Church-Recipes-Aylmer-Eardley/dp/1439216711/ref=la_B001K91GX0_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1384787726&sr=1-2Margaret Kell Virany   

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Definition of reclude http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/reclude

 

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“She left the web, she left the loom …”

Inspired by the mysterious Lady of Shalott who sat in her tower and wove her tapestry while looking into a mirror reflecting real life, I am going into seclusion to give my muse a chance to produce. http://www.pathguy.com/shalott.htm

In the sonnet by Alfred, Lord Tennyson the people of Camelot can hear the beautiful lady singing her song. She can’t go out and her mirror will crack if she looks out the window. http://www.gradesaver.com/tennysons-poems/study-guide/summary-the-lady-of-shalott

Critic Harold Bloom’s analysis is that the mirror’s cracking symbolizes the end of the lady’s artistic abilities. “The end of artistic isolation leads to the death of creativity. The artist’s intense loneliness is absolutely necessary, for all great art demands solitude and silent reflection.”

This blog is home to 158 posts which have been viewed by 4,733 visitors from 110 countries of the world. Now is time for me to take a pause and give birth to a novel on the theme of the love that powers a long-term marriage.

Thank-you to everyone who reads my blog. When I come back, I will have new writing experiences to tell you about. In the meantime, please rely on the search terms to bring you a re-read of any of the posts already written.

Happy Reading & Writing from Cozybookbasics

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Leaving Texarkana in heavy rain, we passed Clinton’s birthplace of Hope on a good highway with a wide median and sloped shoulders. The car interior was soaked from leakage beside the straps of our ski rack. The temperature fell to 34° at high elevation and slush slowed our speed to 60 mph. I wrote, “Pickup truck off the road righted by emergency crew. Another car and pickup off road on the other side.  Forty mph, puddle splash, no visibility, terrible potholes, can’t see to pass or when we’re passed. Worse than we ever get in Canada. Road not recently plowed or ever salted. Trucks exiting for inspection helps.”

  • OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA We pass a lot of vehicles, then are plummeted with slush by a passing truck. Tom has to memorize the road ahead in case he loses visibility. A car is off on the left. We straddle lanes because of hard slush ruts. Heavy traffic both ways. Can’t switch lanes without almost losing control. We’re probably the only car with snow tires. Two cars off on left; two off on right. Managed to switch from left to middle lane. Car off on right. Going 16 mph, road very slushy. Rain splotches haven’t let up at all. Car off on left.
  • Exited I–30 at 1 p.m. In Little Rock. Whew! Tom not sleepy because he had to concentrate so hard on the driving. Four inches of snow on roofs of local cars. Clinton Library and Museum, in fact the whole town, closed. Kids tobogganing beside the Arkansas R., which is full of open water. We had a nice lunch of panini at the Community Bakery and Deli.
  • Back on I–40 at 3 p.m. in heavy rain and traffic. Tom sets wipers on fast when passing trucks so he can see. Car in ditch on right, still 34°. Car off on left. Up to 52 mph. No slush on road, then it started building up again. Trees, flat fields – the sort of landscape we’re used to near home, with far-apart farm homes. Scattered towns. All signing and hwy barriers look like ours.
  • The camera’s drying out (I dropped it in a puddle when getting out of the car). Fog. Big transport off in median. Passed a plow. Slush and ice on bridges. Temperature 36°, heavy traffic. Tom keeps two wheels on the pavement (not the slush). Car off on the left has been pulled out by now. 70 mph, than slowed to 45 mph. Lots of tracks in snowy median. Double lane line-up, mostly trucks, from more than 50 miles west of Memphis. Three cars off on left. Trees by roadside flooded. Slush makes big racket hitting underside of our car. Car off on left. Foggy again.
  • Farm homes are mostly bungalows and many are prefabs. It has poured without let-up all day since we got up. Maybe we are traveling with the storm system from the west (El Nino). Up to 66 mph. Arrived at Memphis at 6:30 p.m. It’s beautiful!
  • At the downtown Comfort Inn we got a room on the 11thfloor with a view of the bridge over the Mississippi. It is an architectural marvel, with three high, graceful arches all lit up at night and a ‘Welcome’ sign on it. We were enchanted to look down on the marina basin, the boats going under the bridge and the street car lines going parallel to the shore, complete with swing barricades.

Beale St Memphis 1.jpgWe walked out in slush (not raining now) to eat at Blues City Café on Beale St. Their special platter, which they let us share, was a fabulous rack of pork ribs, deep-fried catfish, red potatoes, beans and coleslaw. Got ride back on trolley with talkative driver and one other friendly passenger who was flying to Chicago the next day, whee an even worse storm was predicted.

Tues., Feb. 9: Memphis, Nashville, & Knoxville, TN

  • Big churches, court buildings in downtown Memphis. We left town on a clear I–40, seeing many tracks on the median. Tom says tow-truckers in this area must make a fortune. Usual rural winter landscape and mixed forest but many trees are down, perhaps from an ice storm. Few cars, lots of trucks, some SUVs. One pickup off road on right. We’re wearing ski jackets and boots again. Crawled along for an hour before getting to Nashville – another car off the road.
  • In Nashville downtown parking arrangements were inhospitable but we got to the tourist center and walked over to see the Ryman Auditorium (called the Carnegie Hall of the south because Caruso once sang there). We ate dinner at Jack’s Bar B Q (pork shoulder on a bun, corn, cinnamon apples) on the Main Street, which has guitar sculptures, wall frescoes and blaring country music. We admired the Andrew Jackson memorabilia, guns and movie star pix.

Nashville 2.jpgWe drove over to Centennial Park and photographed the full-scale replica of the Parthenon and young Canada geese in the river.

  • Nashville 1.jpgThe city has 800 churches, publishes more bibles than any other place and is known as the ‘Buckle of the Bible Belt’. Still, we didn’t see any religious slogans posted, as in Texas.
  • En route to Knoxville I drove through a snow squall and high wind over a mountain range but our mileage picked up when the wind was in our back. We saw rolling hills, green and forested. Tom was at the wheel when we drove over the Appalachians at night with a 4-degree downhill grade and big trucks at our side. The lights of the city of Harriman shone far below us on the right. It was 30° at the high elevation and 36° at the low. We changed from central to eastern time. Incidentally, Fort Knox (where the U.S. gold supply is stocked) is near here.
  • The beautiful swimming pool at our hotel was too cold to use. We had an exceptionally fine dinner at Puleo’s Grille (crab cake, steak and a side dish of mushrooms in burgundy sauce.)

Lexington Transylvania U.jpgWhat’s in a name? Why is the building in this picture called Transylvania University?

Wed., Feb. 10: Knoxville, TN to  Lexington, KY to Cincinnati and Oxford, OH

  • We left Knoxville in a strong northwest headwind, with gusts up to 50 mph in high mountain elevations. We passed a big white cross on a hill, just like one we had seen yesterday. A tree had fallen partly onto the road. We passed the road to Dogpatch Center.
  • Half way to Lexington at 70 mph on a good road we met big gusts and snow flurries. Tracks across the median did not inspire confidence, nor did a pickup truck in the ditch on the right. We lost a hub cap in a pothole as we drove by straight-cut majestic roadside rock cliffs on both sides, like steppes. A hawk or eagle flew overhead. We were disappointed to see no horses, only fences. They say in Lexington the horses are treated better than the people so maybe they were all indoors.
  • We passed by the opera, old Victorian mansions and office buildings. We stopped at the University of Kentucky student hangout, Tolly-Ho, for lunch and bought some postcards in the campus bookstore. Finally we saw some horses grazing outside Lexington. I drove on at 60 mph in a 70 mph zone because of the high winds. Somewhere along the way we lost another one of the hub caps we had bought at El Centro and were very proud of.
  • Cincinnati is beautiful but we just drove through to get to longtime friends Orie and Bernie’s house in Oxford around 6 p.m. They had had lots of snow. She served us a wonderful home-cooked dinner,we stayed the night and had breakfast with them.

Thurs., Feb. 11: Oxford and Columbus, OH to Pittsburgh, PA

  • In Columbus we got to the Museum of Modern Art’s tuck shop just before it closed at 3 p.m. and were happy to eat a sandwich of ham, salami and Swiss cheese on rye and drink orange juice. No time to look at pictures, and the admission would have been costly. We had a date to help get ready for a Valentine’s party.
  • We arrived at our son’s house in Pittsburgh around 8 p.m. after having had supper at a very modern McDonalds in Washington, PA and  a scenic drive over rolling hills. They had had a tremendous amount of snow but were happy to see us, and vice versa.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Fri., Feb. 12: Pittsburgh, PA

  • We went out to buy last-minute items for the party and pigged out on a chocolate strawberry filled with liqueur. Then we went out again, to stay out of the way of the cleaning woman, and had coffee and sweets at Starbucks while reading the New York Times. When my daughter-in-law came home early from work to start cooking I helped her. Tom spent hours shoveling the driveway and doing chores while our son was at work.
  • We took our grandsons out for lunch at McDonald’s. About 50 people, adults and children, came to the party (pictured below with our grandsons on the right.) It was a huge success.

Pittsburgh 2.jpgSun., Feb. 14, Day 29 Pittsburgh, PA to Ottawa, ON

  • We were sad to find that Plainville Restaurant in Cicero had closed permanently. Instead, we ate at Denny’s. The weather was good and we reached Ottawa just before midnight.
  • So little snow had fallen, we didn’t even  have to clear the driveway. The plants survived our absence and we are very happy that this major dream trip turned out so well. We did everything we wanted to do on schedule, had wonderful visits with our friends and relatives and have lots of stories and pictures to share with our friends. Driving under winter conditions focuses the mind so I think that was good mental exercise for us indeed. It is nice to be able to see everyone at home.
  • 100,290 miles on the chronometer! We had traveled exactly 10,000 miles in 29 days.

Happy Reading & Traveling from Cozy Book Basics and Bliss on Wheels!

We are octogenarian writers who like to travel by car and share our adventures. We hope you enjoyed our notes and pictures of this cross-continent road trip as much as we enjoyed it on wheels six years ago. 

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martycat

Marty is a very intelligent cat. Anyone can see that.

Sometimes real things happen that are very mysterious.  You can call it extrasensory perception (ESP), if  you like. When my mother Kathleen Kell, a very intelligent woman,  heard these family stories she just said, “I wonder,” with a faraway twinkle in her eyes. They’re from the lives of the characters in A Book of Kells and Kathleen’s Cariole Ride.

A Grieving Sailor in a Lucky Port

As 19-year-old Jack Kell left for war in 1916, his tearful father told him he would never see him again. Six months later, Jack got the sad news aboard ship in the English Channel, where he was manning guns and minesweeping, that his father had died. An apple tree limb he sat on broke; he lurched forward and a sharp tip pierced his lung. Kind souls consoled Jack at Portsmouth Methodist Chapel’s Christmas At Home for servicemen, where fatherly Walter Ward also invited him for tea with his wife and family.

A Nervous Mother-to-Be with Good Instincts

Pregnant Kathleen Ward Kell felt a little nervous her first Christmas in Canada in 1928. She told husband Jack she thought it would be best for their baby to be born in a hospital, not a teepee on the isolated reservation where they were missionaries. Her instincts were right. Even the trained nurse and doctor were challenged.

reindeer

Only startled wild creatures saw the threesome of man, woman and guide pass by in an ingenious, unconventional fashion

It was well worth having made the 180-mile trek that startled only wild creatures as a threesome of man, woman and guide passed by in an ingenious fashion rigged up by Jack.

A Midnight Summons to Duty

One winter night in 1936 Rev. J.A.C. Kell, in a Toronto duplex doubling as a parsonage, woke with a jolt. His mother was calling — she had no phone on the farm — and summoning him. Jack woke Kathleen; they bundled the three little girls up and into their 1929 Ford. His brother Clifton had never recovered from war wounds but, this past Xmas, had got up off the sick couch to give the girls a one-horse, open sleigh ride. From afar, Jack saw the porch light on and his mother’s silhouette at the window confirming him in his worst fears. Now she had only Jack left out of her four men.

A Doomed Captain’s Last SOS

On Nov. 19, 1941, His Majesty’s Australian Ship HMAS Sydney was mutually destructively engaged with the German cruiser Kormoran and lost with all 645 crew members on board. As he went down in the South China Sea, Capt. Joe Burnett sent a mental message to his wife saying he loved her. Enid Ward Burnett got it, and then the official, tragic news. The Toronto Star knocked on Kathleen’s door to ask for her brother-in law’s picture. She sent a Xmas parcel to her bereaved sister, niece and nephews who carried on heroically.

Reader Mary Groome of Wakefield, QC writes, “Thank you so much for writing Kathleen’s Cariole Ride. I enjoyed the history and the examples of courage and love these people exhibited.”

Season’s Greetings & Happy Reading from CozyBookBasics!

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HandWhen my parents had their sixtieth wedding anniversary in 1987, I thought they must be sad to be celebrating their last big occasion before certain death. Later I wrote A Book of Kells: Growing Up in an Ego Void, which ends dramatically with what was really stressing them. Happily, my husband and I have now reached that milestone. We were conspicuous co-eds 60 years ago when he gave me a ring made from a loose diamond smuggled out in a sponge from Hungary. We were so much
in love we paraded around from one end of the campus to the other with our arms around each other’s waist.

In those days behavior codes were strong and he was not the type to force himself upon a sheltered Protestant girl who was president of a girls’ residence nicknamed ‘The Bastion of Virginity’. We agreed we would keep sex to the area “from the collar up” for the nine months of our engagement. That did not prevent him from educating the novice on the basis of his year of field work in Rome while waiting for a visa to Canada. He was not allowed to work or go to school so he did what healthy, energetic, attractive, idle young people naturally do.

With our anniversary coming up on Sept. 10, we once again find ourselves conspicuous. At the sailing club’s lobster party we were accosted by a beautiful young blonde psychologist out on her first date with a French Canadian dynamo. She conducts life-success classes for companies and wanted to know our secret. She loved the way we sat together, ate together and treated each other tenderly. She wanted to see us walking, holding hands. She said we reminded her of her grandmother who had always had faith in her to succeed but she hadn’t done it the traditional marriage way; she was a single mother of a six-year-old girl. She wanted to come to our home and visit us so we invited her.

On a trip around America we dropped into a restaurant in Virginia where my husband lined up cafeteria-style and brought the food for both of us. I thanked him as always, with manners and respect. A lone woman at the opposite table moved over to join us. “Today’s men aren’t made that way”, she said, “they don’t treat women with courtesy”. She congratulated me on having such a nice man. “Who are you? Where do you come from? I never had a boyfriend like that. My life didn’t work out”. “We’re so sorry,” we said and hugged her. “We wish you all the very best.”

As a celebration, I invite you to take a look, or another look, at A Book of Kells which readers tell me ends poignantly and dramatically. Strains mount during such a long relationship. The couple looks back and compares what happened to what they had dreamed and vowed would happen 60 years ago. Just as falling in love with the right person can happen in a flash, so can forgiving and finding happiness if the couple have been true to themselves.

A diamond stone has carat, cut and color. But most of all it must have clarity to make the “inclusions” or inner, natural characteristics shine through the outer “blemishes”. Only then does it glitter and become fabulously valuable.

With divorce, free love and new lifestyles all around us, I’ve decided not just to grab our certificate of congratulations from the Queen of England and relax. I want to reveal secrets and add to the clarity of what really goes on inside this brilliant phenomenon of lasting marriage.

Snatches from my new novel about the adventures of a couple with coincidental resemblances to my husband and me will pop up in this blog as the long process begins and needs your encouragement.

Happy Reading from Cozy Book Basics!

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