Saturday, February 24, 2018

Two Weeks in South Korea!

Writing was on the back burner the last few weeks while we travelled to South Korea for an Olympic adventure. We've been blessed to follow our daughter Lisa's and Team Homan's curling journey these past years capped off by earning the right to represent Canada in the Olympics. The girls didn't come home with a medal but I'm proud of them all the same. They worked hard and sacrificed a lot and now are Olympians!

We stayed in Gangneung, a two and a half hour, high speed train ride from Seoul. The hotel was across the road from a forest of pine trees leading down to the beach and the Sea of Japan. Hills/mountains surrounded the city and a dry rice field backed onto hotel property. There wasn't a speck of snow on the ground although the air turned frigid once the sun went down and it certainly felt cold enough for snow. A cold wind blew periodically during the day but most days were above zero -- we learned to dress in layers.
Gangneung is named Pine City

 Sea of Japan
Sunset over a lake in Gangneung

In contrast to the beauty of the landscape, the city architecture was boxy and not all that attractive. Coffee shops were plentiful - South Koreans take their java very seriously. They also have a sweet tooth. We were warned about sugar in foods  that one would not expect, but I still got fooled. I ordered an onion bagel with garlic and herb cream cheese that tasted as sweet as marshmallow. We had more success with a few Korean meals, including a barbecue at our table, and a few plates of dumplings. I'd never eaten Korean food before and think we'll have to visit a Korean restaurant in Ottawa. Some most interesting flavours and I'm kind of partial to those dumplings. I was also taken by the friendliness of the Korean people. They were always gracious and eager to help and so genuine.

To give you an example, one afternoon, Ted and I took the city bus about half an hour north to the fishing town of Jumunjin. We walked around the seaport and through the market and ended up eating lunch at a restaurant near the waterfront. We ordered the crab, which I watched a man pull out of the tank in front of the restaurant. As we waited for it to be cooked, a tableful of food arrived that we were not expecting. None of the three servers spoke English but they guided us through the meal with a translation ap and a lot of hand gesturing. Whenever one of them saw us looking confused, they rushed over and sorted us out, making sure we dipped in the appropriate sauce. Before we left, they had us pose for photos with them and treated us if we were visiting celebrities.

Above is a photo of Canada House at Olympic Park - we spent a lot of time here with the other parents, friends and athletes. Lisa and the team met us in the family and friends lounge on three or four afternoons after their game. The figure skating and speed skating parents and families also stayed at our hotel. I met Scott Moir's parents and Tessa Virtue's mom and sister and Patrick Chan's mom!

So now we're back in Ottawa after twenty-four hours of travel and my sleep clock is topsy-turvy. I slept twelve straight hours Thursday night but about an hour last night. I'm hoping to last the day before I pass out from exhaustion. I think the writing will have to wait another day ...

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Going Places

Tuesday evening was the Olympic send off for Team Homan at the Ottawa Curling Club. CBC news broadcast live from the club and Mayor Watson and our MP, Minister Catherine McKenna both congratulated the girls and wished them well. Darren McEwan, who handles social media for Team Homan (and Team Koe in South Korea) helped organize the event and was MC. Earlier in the day, Darren and I were on CBC radio's All in a Day to talk about following the team to the Olympics.  Here is the link to the interview. I'm told Team Homan's first game at the Olympics is February 15 for those following along.

Proud parents with Lisa Weagle - off to the Olympics!

Then on Thursday morning, I caught the train to Toronto to attend the Ontario Library Association (OLA) Super Conference. I attended Tinlids Forestry of Reading breakfast early (for me) Friday morning, which was to celebrate the librarians who took part in organizing and selecting the finalists as well as the shortlisted authors. I chatted with fellow Golden Oak nominee Melodie Campbell, and Orca's Ruth Linka and Margaret Bryant (formally in marketing at Dundurn) and met Meredith Tutching, the chair of the Golden Oak nominating committee and the lead organizer of the Forestry of Reading program.
 Melodie Campbell and Margaret Bryant
Meredith Tutching

At 10:30, I joined Barbara Fradkin and Robin Harlick at the Dundurn booth on the main conference floor to sign copies of our recent books. While the advance literature said I'd be signing advance copies of Bleeding Darkness, I actually signed Shallow End but most of the librarians were new to the series so all good. Two nice interactions: a librarian from Peterborough  told me that my series was so popular, they ordered extra books to keep up with the demand! I also met up with Tamara whose parents both taught me in grade school. Tamara works as a librarian in Marathon, a town sixty miles east of my hometown Terrace Bay on the North Shore of Lake Superior. Her mom told her that I was the star in a grade three play, which believe it or not, I remember. I was the witch in Snow White and that performance marked the peak of my acting career.

 With Tamara
Barb, Robin and moi

The train ride to Toronto was a good opportunity to get some writing in. I'm still getting started on the seventh Stonechild book and am putting in some thinking time. I sense that writing won't start full on until after the Olympics in March. An exciting month ahead!