Sunday, May 31, 2009

Listed on!

Was just cruising the internet, and discovered that The Ugly Truck and Dog Contest and Other Tales of Northern Life is now listed on the website here.

I spoke with my publisher on Friday, and we are going to try to have copies in Yellowknife in time for my reading at the NorthWords gala on June 13.

In the meantime, I am working on promo materials, website updates and so on. Stay tuned for info on the official launch!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Ugly Truck and Dog Contest on the presses!

Great news! My publisher got in touch with me last week to let me know that my short story collection, The Ugly Truck and Dog Contest and Other Tales of Northern Life, is on the presses.

Here's a sneak peek of the cover, designed by David Tierney of Borealis Press.

Not sure of the release date right now, but we are going to try to get some early copies up to Yellowknife in time for the NorthWords Writers Festival. I am reading at the closing gala, so would be great to have some copies on hand!

He's back . . .

The little fox made a re-appearance today. Snoozed for an hour or more in the backyard.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Life imitates art . . . or one of my stories, at least

Just had one of those quintessential Yellowknife experiences.

In early April, Pierre and I were vacationing in Calgary and Pierre bought a new vehicle. His plan was to fly back to Yellowknife as planned, get insurance and plates, fly back to Calgary and drive the vehicle home. He had to work out of town for a couple of days before heading back south, but no problemo, we’d had a long cold winter. And then we got several days of surprisingly warm weather.


Here’s the thing. Yellowknife is not on an all-weather road. The highway that connects us to the outside world crosses the Mackenzie River close to the town of Fort Providence. There is no bridge (although one is being built). In the spring/summer, a ferry takes vehicles across; in the winter there is an ice bridge. During the spring melt and the fall freeze, when there is neither an ice road nor an operating ferry, there’s no way to get across.

“Leaving Yellowknife,” the last story in my soon-to-be-published collection of short stories The Ugly Truck and Dog Contest and Other Tales of Northern Life, deals with this very phenomenon. My protagonist, the not-so-angelic Angela, has been offered a prime job in southern Canada. She races south in her beloved car before the ice bridge closes and she is stranded in the NWT for another month before the ferry starts running.

I’m not going to tell you what happens to Angela, but Pierre didn’t make it. It became clear he could not get to Calgary and then make it back up to the NWT in time to get across the quickly disintegrating ice road. So he re-booked his ticket. I think he gave himself about three weeks, which should have been enough time. But then the weather turned cold, and the dates for the ferry kept getting pushed back.

I was predicting that he’d end up in Alberta for days longer than he wanted to, but it all worked out. The ferry started running a couple of days before he got to the crossing, and he’s home safe and sound with a carload of bedding plants. (Yahoo!) Now I just have to keep them alive until it’s warm enough to plant them.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Backyard visitor

Pierre was on his way out to the barbecue this evening, but decided to postpone supper. Someone was snoozing in the backyard, and he didn't want to disturb our guest.

Chances are good this is the same little fox who's been having the occasional nap in our backyard over the past few weeks. We can also hear him jumping off the rocks onto our deck in the middle of the night. Our cats watch from the window, and are fascinated by everything he does. Moments like this I'm glad they don't go outside. They'd probably end up as fox food, and then I wouldn't feel so kindly towards the little guy.

He soon woke up and skedaddled, so I didn't have to wait too long for Pierre to get on with supper.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Signs of spring

I am fortunate to live across the street from Great Slave Lake. The comings and goings on Yellowknife Bay keep me entertained: float planes taking off and landing winter and summer; snow machines, dog teams, skiers in winter; kayaks, canoes and motor boats in summer.

Last night something odd caught my eye. Looked like a dog team was coming across from the far shore, except the order was wrong – the sled appeared to be in the lead, with the dogs following behind. I whipped out my binocs, and it turned out to be a snow machine pulling a komatik (wooden sled topped with a frame and white canvas liner) and two smaller toboggans. The little caravan zigzagged across the lake in front of me, then took a sharp left and headed down the shore. The ice along the shoreline is melting, so the driver would need to find a spot to cross onto land.

Moments later, another little entourage appeared across the bay. This time it was an all-terrain vehicle pulling another komatik and a toboggan, with a dog running beside. Someone was standing on the back of the komatik. The komatik rider and the driver of the ATV kept turning to check on the dog, a shaggy, medium-sized ginger-coloured mutt. They stopped; the komatik person grabbed the dog and placed it in the second toboggan. As they were starting off, the dog (who clearly considered the intervention unnecessary) jumped out. They continued for a couple minutes, then stopped again. Dog was placed in the toboggan once again. This time the second person rode on the back of the toboggan to make sure the dog stayed put. Dogs are so happy to be out in the spring air they often don’t feel their own limitations. With any luck, the poor beast hasn’t strained any muscles or cut its pads on the ice.

My guess is that these people were hauling in their stuff from their winter camp. It’s not unusual for northerners to set up a wall tent out in the wilds during the winter and use it as a base for winter activities. These are not your usual camping tents – they sit on wooden platforms and have wooden frames covered with canvas. A little wood stove will keep a wall tent surprisingly warm.

We’re now firmly in the in-between season. Although I still see para-sailors out on the ice, they don’t have much time left. The countdown to boating season has begun.