Boundbytheword Blog

keep updated in the world of Debris

Get your guano here… August 25, 2010

Filed under: What's Up? — Noelle Bickle / Abby Brooks @ 3:24 PM

Our home is idyllic. Six acres of land, lots of gardens and trees of every kind. My favourite by far are my three willows, but we have plenty of poplar and pine, ash and sumac, cherry, apple, and even a massive old oak. Of course I can’t deny that my rows of maple provided a wonderful harvest of syrup last year, so they hold a special place on my list as well. We’re surrounded by farmland, so our morning rush hour noises include songbirds, the bellow of waking cows, and the odd tractor in the distance. It’s peaceful and serene, this little piece of heaven I call home. Night time is just as tranquil. We can see every star in the dark sky, and listen as the crickets chirp. You’d think being surrounded by trees, we’d get eaten alive by mosquitoes, but not so. In fact we have very few at all. It’s odd, considering we live in such a rural area. Are mosquitoes more of a city or subdivision pest? It makes no sense at all.

Ahhh, but it does. We have no mosquitoes because we have bats. Essentially rats with wings. Which wouldn’t be such a big deal because they’re outside, and hey -thanks to them we have no mosquitoes. Apparently one bat can eat 3000 bugs a night! But here’s the thing. They’re roosting behind our shutters, which means they poop on our window sill before they head to bed for the day. That’s no good.

What I want is no bugs. What I don’t want is piles of what looks like mouse droppings outside my bedroom windows. It’s called guano, and it is grosso. It’s also toxic and can make you sick, give you flu like symptoms. That guano’s gotta go.

We had the pest guy here today. Can I just digress and state that you know you live in the country when you have a regular pest guy who comes in for coffee during his job? We had a great talk today about the bears in the area, so I felt petty complaining about guano. But I’m just not okay with piles of bat crap invading my piece of heaven.

Larry, the pest guy tells us we’ve got big brown bats. The good news is big browns only grow to colonies of about 10, as opposed to small brown bats who can have colonies of 10,000. That is great freakin’ news! Bring on the big browns! He said we’re lucky they’re outside and he’d just leave them, after all, they eat all our bugs. But here’s the thing Larry. I don’t want no guano!

Option two is bat houses, which sounds like a good plan. I don’t actually care if they poop over yonder on the other side of my property. I don’t even care if they poop on the grass, but my window sill? That’s over the top. So, we are moving ahead with plan two. We have to put up a bat house, remove the shutters off the house, power wash the yuckiness and bolt those shutters back on tight. Then we have to hope the bats like their new digs, and don’t try to find a way into the house to make us suffer for the disturbance. Should be an interesting way to spend the weekend.

I’ll keep you posted. Somehow I have a feeling the shenanigans may make a good blog post.


And the Winner is… August 22, 2010

Filed under: What's Up? — Noelle Bickle / Abby Brooks @ 12:13 PM

Not me. Well, I was the first runner up, which is, as my ridiculously funny and brutally honest friend said, the “first place loser.” Which is ridiculously funny and brutally honest. It did get me thinking though, that writing is always a competition. As much as it felt good to be shortlisted the winner’s seat is the only spot that feels really satisfying to sit at. Besides, I don’t know that I like being labelled as “number 2”.

Aside from the slight ego deflation at the results, the evening itself was fun, and I take pride in telling you that I opened the potty mouth wide and let it fill the room. Once there, I’d convinced myself that children or no children, I would own the words. Big thanks to all of you who posted advice, emailed or facebooked me and gave me your two bits. 🙂 My mind was made up before I walked into the Leacock Museum, and I was ready to read my submission as is.

The event hosted about 75 guests, all dolled up nicely and ready for the reading. Dinner was lovely. The lake-side museum was picturesque. But I was a little shaken. It wasn’t the young attendees (about six kids) at the event making me second guess myself, but it was the handful of old folks! Really old folks. Eeeks! I didn’t poll my blog readers about a dozen grey hairs that made 90 look like the new 80.

Now I had a new dilemma. At least the kids could think I was cool I rhyming off the f-bomb and the other offenders, but the seniors might label me a dirty girl. A nasty, foul-mouthed young’un who disgraced the room. My hubby, my mom and my two sister-in-laws said not to worry about it. Just do it, they said. They probably won’t even hear you, they said. It made sense, but I still was unconvinced.

Until the winner of the short story got up and read his piece. It was a well crafted, moving story about restaurant workers during the tragic day of 9-11. The room was captivated during his reading, as was I. Until one of his character’s yelled “Frigger!” And I thought, no, that character wouldn’t yell “Frigger!”. I’m sure that character actually yelled “Fucker!”

And so, my decision was made. I would read it loud and proud, even as first runner up. The curses were about to sing.

And they did sing. And the reading went well. But the best part of the evening was when Dorothy, 74 year old woman and her friend, Yvette came over and praised my work. “You captured the voice of a teenager so perfectly”, they said. They didn’t gasp at the f-bomb, or how flawed my character was. And it dawned on me, that people are only human. Imagine that. Whether 14 or 84, there’s something about the flaws of human nature that people are drawn to and relate with. The perfectionist in me often skews my perception of people, and case in point, it happened again this night.

So thank you Dorothy and Yvette for keeping it real. And thank you to the Mariposa Writers’ Group for a great evening, a nice award and a pretty little check that will buy me a pretty pair of new shoes to help me keep it real. Or at least to keep it pretty.

Check out the face

ummmm...did you say second?


F Bombs + Children = ??? August 20, 2010

Filed under: What's Up? — Noelle Bickle / Abby Brooks @ 11:30 AM

Little dilemma involving the integrity of my work vs. dropping the f-bomb in front of kiddies. Hmmmm.

Tonight I’ll be reading my shortlisted piece in front of a crowd of strangers (with a few of my cheerleaders in the mix). I’m excited and I’m proud of my piece – an excerpt from my second novel, Life as a Teenage Mutant. The material includes a 15 year old girl with a eating disorder, lots of animosity, and some f-bombs. Actually, one f-bomb and one stupid bitch, thrown in for good measure.

I’m no stranger to foul language, and have been known on occasion to drop the f-bomb myself (usually in a good story, or a WTF?). I admit I use it sparingly and not usually in mixed company. Certainly not in front of kids. There’s just something about the crassness of it, and as a lover of words I can usually find another that fits. So, when I use it, it’s deliberate.

That brings me to my dilemma. There’s an award given earlier at the gala for a young writer between 9-14 years old. Someone who didn’t need to wait until 40 to reach for their dreams. Impressive really. Quite. Problem is, they’ll be there to hear my reading as well, and my reading involves, as noted above, heavy issues and naughty language.

For followers of my blog, you know I don’t swear needlessly. I imply mostly, but if it needs to be said, it’ll be in there. My novel is written the same way. I don’t use swearing in place of other words, I place them as strategically as ever other word I use. Probably more so. So what exactly is the problem then?

The mother in me is battling the author in me, and I’m second guessing reading my work as it’s written. Do I just drop the f-bomb in the company of these young authors, younger than my own children?

I could leave out the two offending words, but to be realistic, the piece itself is gritty with or without those words. I’m not bringing my own children; I didn’t feel it was appropriate. Heck, I even gave my mother a heads up about it (she likes the grittiness of my work anyway). The author in me, who so carefully placed those words, says “WTF? No way! Own it, say it, read it as is.”

But the mother in me is cringing just a little, and hopes those kiddies get tired before my reading and leave for the night.

Thoughts, dear blog readers? If you are a regular poster on my blog, I’m counting on you to give me your two cents. If you’ve never commented before, now is the time to let me know what you think. I’d appreciate the advice!

So – do I own it, read it and be the offending reader?
Or do I childproof my work tonight?


The Winning Read? August 16, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Noelle Bickle / Abby Brooks @ 1:20 PM

If you’ve never been to a reading, I invite you to your first! It happens to be mine, so you’ll see a familiar face, albeit panic stricken and euphoric at the same time.

I’m punch-drunk after being shortlisted in a writing competition. Literary Lapses has chosen my submission, along with four others, as the finalists in their recent poetry and short story competition. The Mariposa Writers’ Group has invited me to read my piece at the gala event being held after the Lake Country Literary Lapses Festival.

This year’s Festival will take place on Friday, August 20, 2010 on the grounds of the Leacock Home and Museum, in Orillia. A variety of events (workshops, readings etc.) will take place throughout the day, and the National Bank Financial Group Awards will be presented at the gala event, where the finalists will read their work up for the claim of winner. Although my parents would assure me I’m already a winner. 🙂

The gala event, which is free to attend, will be held this Friday evening (August 20th) at 6:30 p.m. There will be a bunch of us meeting at the Leacock Museum at 5:15pm for dinner (they have a nice buffet for $13) and I would love for you to join us if you can! Come early and have dinner, or just come for the reading and free refreshments reception after the readings. The event runs from 6:30 till 9:30 pm.

Do let me know if you are up for a night out and will be joining us for dinner or the gala, or both. The awards committee is looking for numbers to plan for food and such, so I’ll need an RSVP. It would be great to see some familiar faces in the crowd to help my knees from shaking!


Isn’t it Ironic? August 13, 2010

Filed under: What's Up? — Noelle Bickle / Abby Brooks @ 1:47 AM

My day started out so well.

Woke up without a migraine for the first time in more than a week. Ahhh. Dropped off the wee one at day camp on time, and she was excited to go. Whew. Sweat it out big time for the end of week two at the gym. Ugh. Stepped on the scales and lost 4.7 pounds (hear the choir sing?). Had a great – and I mean great – hair day.
Waiting for the shoe to drop? Not yet, it still gets better.

Came home to a message that I was shortlisted in the Lake Country Literary Lapses short story competition! Yahoo! I’ve been invited to read my work at their evening gala next Friday night, and will find out then where I place in the 5 short-list spots. Maybe a bit of prize money to be had, for certain the spotlight for about 15 minutes while I read, and regardless of the place that I do indeed place, a night to feel pride in my work. Happy day. Happy happy happy day.

Now the shoe drops.

Our plan was to take our two little ones and my son’s best buddy to Medieval Times. Show started at 7:30 in Toronto. We figured two hours was enough time to make it there. And it would have been. Except the boys took the dog for a walk around our property before we left and came upon an unfamiliar cat. It wasn’t our cat for sure, but it was hard to make out considering it only had a tail and a head left intact. The feline parts that coyotes don’t prefer, apparently.

That delay might have been okay, except there was traffic (imagine that) and we showed up thirty minutes late to the front gates. The performance may have been salvageable apart from the fact that they lock the nine entrance doors on latecomers. So we call head office in a panic and the wonderful girl on the other end lets us reschedule. Which is very nice and a relief after the $200 “deal” on tickets. So things look a bit less bleak, I’m hoping it takes a turn for the better.

At this point we’ve travelled more than two hours. I have three hungry, disappointed kids and one cranky, frustrated husband. So we decide to hit the Old Spaghetti Factory. It was a hit when I was a kid, and let’s face it, we could use a hit right now. I used to love this place, I say. I tell them we always got a super colossal sundae to share. I assure them they’ll have loads to choose from. I use my super Pollyanna skills to cheer up the gloomy bunch and tell them it’s gonna be great.

The thing is though, things change. They have loads to choose from for pasta lovers, which in our family – not so much (except my oldest daughter who would’ve been in heaven…I know Heather, you should’ve been there). I guess I should have known based on the name alone, but hey – I was going for the nostalgia of something great. In the now though, there is no pizza for Lainey, Sam hates everything on the kids menu, and worse than that, there are no giant sundaes. Oh fudge fairies, help me now.

The kids are seriously bummed. My husband is getting more agitated by the minute – I won’t bore you with all the details (plus he subscribes to my blog and will read this). Let’s just say there may have been hushed arguments behind the menus, there may have been stone cold silence and I may have threatened to ban him to the child’s section of the restaurant. It wasn’t pretty.

About 45 minutes into dinner I begin to fantasize about living alone in Paris. Sitting alone in a street side café, writing brilliant prose as I sip wine and nibble on baguettes. And I think to myself, is this really my life? Le sigh.

I try to make the best of the whole debacle. I snap photos of everyone. Smile, I say. They smile. It looks like we had a lovely evening. Except that I wasn’t there. Or so it would seem, because no one ever thinks to snap a picture of the photographer. No. Why would anyone bother to capture me all dolled up with my (four-pound-less) chubby cheeks or the fab-o hair? No, it would be better to grab a shot of me just after I wake up, or maybe when I am scraping half eaten cat off my walking path. That captures the essence so much better really. Maybe the lack of my face in any photo can help me convince myself I wasn’t really there after all.

The irony. The day started off so well. Le sigh.


My New Job! August 10, 2010

Filed under: What's Up? — Noelle Bickle / Abby Brooks @ 10:18 PM

Ahhhhh, sweet summertime. Sunshine, lazy Sunday afternoons and scrumptious BBQ dinners remind us this is the season for enjoying family and friends. Somehow, it doesn’t seem like the time to work, not at all. I want to play. Dig my toes in the sand and drink large glasses of lemonade – the spiked version preferably. So is it the heat rays that are making me sluggish? I haven’t been writing, I haven’t been editing, and I haven’t even been blogging. I’m only slothing.

It doesn’t help that I have the kidlets home for the summer who have hired me as their 24-7 cruise director of summer fun. Times sure have changed since I was young. In those days, you basically got the boot outside until the dinner hour. Parental guilt has had a major shift in those 30 years somehow. I guarantee that neither of my parents felt bad for sending me out to play all day. Nor did they worry about whether I was bored. They weren’t alone in that way of parenting either. Most of my friends were expected to stay out until the streetlights came on – or in our case living out in the boonies – until you could see the fireflies rising from the grass. Essentially you were to “get gone” and keep out of trouble, or at least not break any bones.

Oh, the good ol’ days. I want to tell my kids to get gone, but then I’d be a bad mom by today’s standards. I have to entertain, enlighten, amuse and engage my kids all day every day. It’s an exhausting job, thank-less job, and the pay sucks. This microwave society we live in lends to never ever having a dull moment, so my days of writing under my wonderful Willow have been exchanged for tennis matches, laser tag, beach days and amusement parks.

On the up side – I’m missing my writing life like an absent lover. Trying to steal moments to get ideas down, sneak away to type passages. I’m longing to have time alone with my novel. I miss the passion and the intensity she brings. But, with September only a few weeks away, I’ve decided to kick back and just give in to the life of cruise directing non-writer to keep the kids smiling.

Well, absence does make the heart grow fonder.