Southern Georgian Bay

Southern Georgian Bay (Ontario, Canada) usually brings to mind the tourist area surrounding Wasaga Beach, the longest freshwater beach in the world. It is situated at the southernmost tip of Georgian Bay, a couple of hours drive north of Toronto. Wasaga Beach has stunning vistas, even at the end of October when the wind and waves are attacking the shore and only the hardiest are willing to walk the shores.

Just 20 minutes west of Wasaga Beach is Collingwood. Skiers will associate the area with the Crazy Canucks who trained on the hills at Blue Mountain. Hikers know its extensive trails with year-round access, allowing a leisurely stroll along the banks of a river or a strenuous workout up the side of a mountain.

We took several day trips during our visit. One in particular was a drive from Collingwood to Tobermory which is at the north end of Bruce Peninsula. It’s an easy drive straight up the middle of the peninsula on Highway 6. Note that there is no water view unless you take side roads to the coast, e.g. to see one of the many lighthouses. We stopped at the following towns and villages as we travelled:

Thornbury – one of the many farms along the highway is raising miniature horses; their feed station was identified as a mini saloon;

Meaford – everywhere we turned there were scarecrows hanging from sign posts and buildings; there’s an outlet mall which is set up like a junky garage sale but has some good deals on furniture and tools;

Owen Sound – this is a very pleasant town half-way up the peninsula; it’s the winter home of Chi-Cheemaun, the car ferry that travels from Tobermory to Manitoulin Island;

Tobermory – situated at the tip of the peninsula separating Georgian Bay from Lake Huron, this is the starting point for the car ferry; it operates from the long weekend of May to the week after Thanksgiving; unfortunately, we arrived two days late;

Sauble Beach – we stopped here on the return trip when we took a side road to the Lake Huron side; the waves were even higher than at Wasaga Beach; the wind was strong enough to make us stagger as we walked;

Southampton – also on the Lake Huron side, this is a tiny version of its predecessor in England; there were many sail- and fishing boats but no yachts or cruise ships as we saw in England.

Suggestion: Visit the area from mid-September to mid-October when the tourist attractions are all open. Otherwise, go in the winter for ski season.

Tourist info: www.visitgeorgianbay.com

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The Wheels, I love them

If I’d been born a boy, I would’ve been a total gearhead, and am happiest behind the wheel driving anything, anywhere. I don’t know if it’s the driving or the going that’s most satisfying, but  both at once? Oy, heaven. When I was young I generally always drove a little too fast and imprudently, and got a ticket for that once, Failure to be Reasonable and Prudent, that was the actual charge. The cop informed me that was what they hand out when the offense isn’t quite bad enough for the Reckless Driving jackpot.

The first car I was allowed to drive didn’t exactly set the road on fire, though. My dad’s beloved ’66 Corvair had all the torque of a sewing machine.

So, 14 years old, Saturday afternoon with best friend Nancy, driving by the house where the absolutely most cutest boy in class lived and just happened to be in the yard with his friend, the other most cutest boy in class. We didn’t exist in their world which was pretty liberating actually, permitting us to indulge in dunderhead behavior trying to get their attention without all the risk of actually getting it.
By this time I knew I was ultra talented with the clutch and hardly ever killed the engine when the light turned green. Of course this allowed us to drive ultra fast past his house with Deep Purple on 11 and hair streaming out the open windows looking ultra sexy.  My extra smooth driving skills at their peak,  I missed second gear and hit fourth and we drove by lugging the engine at 15 mph with no hope of going any faster, at which point I dropped it back to first and we bunny hopped by his house, teeny tiny Corvair engine screaming pain and humiliation along with Nancy.

It’s probably a good thing Dad garaged the fragile little Corvair because I would’ve killed it, but that meant I inherited the vast 1970 Ford Sturdywagon with its very own snotty Republican bumper sticker. However, it also had an 8-track, which made up for some; the fact you could pack 15 people and a pony keg in it made up for the rest. And it taught me an incredibly valuable life lesson I’ve used a lot: knowing your ground clearance is a good thing.

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Coffee Ramble

Caffeine junkies, break room drinkers, morning gulpers or aficionados we like our coffee. I’ve been drinking coffee since I was fifteen and worked at an A&W root beer joint where I added enough cream to my first cup of coffee that I invented the latte. Since then I’ve run the gamut, or maybe gauntlet, of everything that coffee has to offer—black coffee, coffee with cream, with cream and sugar, with cream and various artificial sweeteners banned because they cause cancer in California, twelve to thirteen cups per day of vending machine urine with artificial cream wannabe, homemade battery acid from a French press, homemade espresso battery acid from one of those little aluminum one-cuppers, new and improved battery acid using a cheap counter top espresso machine and a tiny stick-your-pinky out espresso cup, the same battery acid in a grown ups cup with steamed milk reminiscent of A&W latte, espresso cum latte cum cappuccino from a counter top DeLonghi machine that actually produced a layer of crema and tasted enough like true espresso that in two years my love affair fatally injured the lining of my stomach and returned me to regular coffee with cream ala A&W but on speed dial via a Bunn coffee maker clocked at zero to twelve cups in sixty seconds. Then I retired. Visited Louisiana. Discovered café au lait from Café DuMonde — coffee with chicory served with hot milk. Bought a Kuerig one cup coffee maker, put the other machines in the rummage sale, now start the morning with a single always exactly the same strength and quality cup of–Emeril’s Big Easy Intense, Coffee People’s Doughnut Shop Coffee, or Newman’s Own Extra Bold. The next and final two cups of coffee later in the day are hand made café au laits built from a can of Café DuMonde Coffee with Chicory. Then I switch to Scotch.
Wait, I forgot about the John Wayne battery acid, cowboy coffee brewed in one of those classic blue enameled pots sans basket burned black on the outside and grossly funky on the inside. Fill with water, pour coffee in and boil directly on the hot coals of a campfire. Lastly add a raw egg when the coffee is ready to cut some of the acidity, plus as the egg sinks it pulls a lot of the suspended grounds to the bottom of the pot. Never ever wash that pot and the coffee gets smoother and more palatable as the years pile on. Then I switch to Scotch.

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New Collaborators

Starting this month, I’m excited to have three new collaborators joining me on my blog: Robyn Williams, Jim Luce, and Margaret Loyer.  These three people are dear friends and have been part of my writing career from the beginning. Without them, their encouragement, their (sometimes harsh but true) critiques, and their steadfast belief I could do this, I wouldn’t be still writing.

I met Robyn Williams and Jim Luce on an online writing laboratory called Writelab more than ten–or is it fifteen?–years ago. The lab had a great premise. Every week, we would get a writing assignment, say writing in the omniscient point of view, and we would post it to the group. People then critiqued the piece and gave you feedback. Most of it was either of the rose-colored glasses or the “you’re an idiot” kind, but Robyn, Jim and I connected and, as they say in the movies, it was the start of a beautiful friendship. Robyn lives in Boisie, Idahoe and Jim lives near a lake in Wisconsin. We have never physically met but have stayed in contact ever since.

I met Margaret at Algonquin Community College in Ottawa where we both took the same writing class.  We hit it off and, with a few others from the class, started a writing group. Little by little, the group dwindled and only Margaret and I were left. She decided writing novels wasn’t her thing but she’s a crack copy editor and has corrected and commented on every one of my books. She’s the one who helpedd polish and clean my English, which is often deficient.

So, there you have it. Once a month, each of them will drop by my blog and talk about something that tickles their fancy. It should be eclectic. And, hopefully, it should be fun.

Welcome, you guys.

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Official cover for Catalyst

The end–or the beginning– is in sight! This is the official cover of my new SF Thriller, Catalyst.

The year is 2046.

Mutations and MIDS ravage the planet, and the need for body parts and organ transplants escalate. Corbin has created GenOrg, a farm that speed-grows in coffin-like pods thousands of human clones from stolen DNA. One problem: the clones are sentient—their genetic memory has even given them the ability to communicate between themselves.

Ashar, a self-named clone, escapes GenOrg, promising to return to free the others. Running for his life, he is joined by Sara Logan, a geneticist with a guilty secret, and Pietr Ludov, a reporter seeking the ultimate story. They hatch out a plan to bring down Corbin, but it’s not enough for Ashar: he wants the clones free. Struggling with his own genetic identity, Ashar devises his own plan, which will unleash a series of events that will have repercussions for decades.

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