Halloween: The Rise of the Chocolate Mafia

Ah, Halloween. When I was a kid, it meant three things: 1) Trying to come up with a costume that would fit OVER my parka, because it’s cold in southern Alberta after dark at the end of October. One year, my mom got free boxes from the grocery store, cut arm and neck holes, and painted them – my brother was a die and I was a domino. We were the hit of the neighbourhood.…

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Earl Bakken: The Man Who Changed Our Hearts

Earl Bakken passed away last week at the age of 94. Not many people have heard of Bakken, but he saved millions of lives all around the world. In 1949, Bakken founded Medtronic, a garage-based medical equipment repair shop that made $8 in its first month of operation. In 1957, an infant with a heart condition died after a blackout disabled her plug-in pacemaker. At her surgeon’s request, Bakken invented the world’s first portable model,…

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Witchcraft: Only Illegal If You Fake It

The phrase “witch hunt” has been tossed around pretty casually lately, but here’s a case where it might actually apply: an Ontario psychic has just been charged with practicing witchcraft. Or, more accurately, with pretending to practice witchcraft. Fun fact: the actual practice of witchcraft is legal in Canada. Faking it for profit, not so much. That’s what our psychic is accused of – telling customers she will lift the curse upon them, provided they…

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Randomly

So far this week: Found a $5 bill blowing down the sidewalk in Ottawa; found a $20 bill in the laundry two days later. Let’s hope this is the start of a trend. Took a tour of Parliament. May have spotted an MP. Experienced major library envy. Huddled in sweater, wool jacket, scarf, gloves, and touque while watching a guy in a kilt play the bagpipes at the cenotaph. Marvelled at his fortitude. Listened to…

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Randomly

So far this week: Found a $5 bill blowing down the sidewalk in Ottawa; found a $20 bill in the laundry two days later. Let’s hope this is the start of a trend. Took a tour of Parliament. May have spotted an MP. Experienced major library envy. Huddled in sweater, wool jacket, scarf, gloves, and touque while watching a guy in a kilt play the bagpipes at the cenotaph. Marvelled at his fortitude. Listened to…

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This is Your Brain on Cannabis

Confession: I recently tried cannabis for the very first time. My back had been in spasm for five days – five days in which I’d levelled up from hot baths and ibuprofen to prescription anti-inflammatories to prescription narcotics, without even the slightest improvement. I had three days more days to go before I could get in to see a therapist, so in desperation, I tried the pot. Why had I waited until I was 40 to…

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Rory Gilmore May Be the Reason Sam Winchester Won’t Date

Here’s a way to confuse yourself on a Saturday. Cross-stitch while playing Gilmore Girls in the background, then do tai chi while watching the latest season of Supernatural. Attempting to reconcile Rory’s boyfriend Dean with Sam Winchester is a good way to bruise your brain.* Then again, maybe it’s not so big a stretch. After all, while Dean was originally from Chicago, he became a small-town guy pretty fast. And the Winchester brothers have always…

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Tweets From the Trenches: An Amazing New Book About WWI

I’d like to welcome Jackie Carmichael to the blog today! In addition to being my not-so-evil-stepmother, Jackie is a journalist and a poet and is celebrating the release of her first book. Tweets from the Trenches was inspired by her grandfather’s WWI letters and trench diaries. It’s a potent, emotional gut punch of a book, and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in military or Canadian history.  You can meet Jackie on October 22,…

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OleHenriksen Cured My Acne…And I Have No Idea How

When I was in high school, there was a commercial – for Olay, I think – in which the actress complained about having acne and wrinkles at the same time. I remember watching it with one of my Sisters of the Traveling Chocolate and laughing, because like that would ever happen. Not so funny when you’re 40 and it’s true! I don’t mind the wrinkles so much. I figure I’ve earned those, especially the one…

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Inside an Author’s “Process”

I love that word, “process.” Makes it sound like writers know what they are doing, when we’re actually just faking it and hoping no one will notice. Now that I’m working on a fantasy novel, though, I have noticed that my fiction process is totally different than my nonfiction process.   My nonfiction process looks like this: 1) Get an idea.  This part is truly easy – ideas are everywhere. 2) Figure out if anyone…

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