Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Sentimentality. And Raffie Giraffie.

Award-winning book, The Twisted Climb by J.C. Kavanagh
It's been 23 years since my dad passed away unexpectedly. It would have been his 90th birthday the other day and it got me thinking about how I wished he were here to read my books and be part of my new publishing journey.
He was a bit of a curmudgeon, I have to admit. Growing up in Dublin, Ireland, in a building called The Ballast Office on the River Liffey, he had to be tough. So when he came to Canada in May 1957, he believed that he was tough enough for anything Canada could throw his way.
Until the winds of November.
And the arctic cold in December.
And the snowy blizzards in January.
"How in the name of God would anyone want to live here?" he used to say, clenching his teeth.
Now my dad was not of the Kavanagh clan (that's me mather's side), so I'm not sure if the lack of blue blood in his veins made him more likely to feel the cold. Or should that be the other way around?
"Winter in Canada is not fit for man nor beast," he would say in a bitter voice as he scraped the ice off the windshield of the old Volkswagen Beetle.
Personally, I loved winter. Still do. I love the feel of the wind on my face and the ice-cold velvet of snowflakes on my cheeks. As a child, I would beg to be brought outside. We couldn't afford skis but we did have an old toboggan.
"Will you come with me?" I would ask my dad.
He'd look at me with disbelief.
"You want to go out in that?"
I would squirm in my squeaky snow pants and shuffle my ugly galoshes together - you know the kind - where your shoe fits into your boot. The large metal buckle at the top at the top of the boot did nothing to improve its appearance. Style and galoshes were and always will be, from two different galaxies.
So my dad would mutter something about lost opportunities in the good ol' country and then say NO.
Me and my dad, 1983
Looking back, I realize that he didn't have galoshes - only us kids were brave/stupid enough to wear them in public. He had those rubbery half-shoe type of footware that semi-covered your shoes. We lived in an apartment until I was in my teens and to this day, I cannot remember him enjoying a Canadian winter day while outside.
Well, Dad, I overcame a lot of obstacles since you passed. I wish you were here to tell me "good job" and "to put the Irish lilt in Canadian lore." Then I would tell you that winter in Canada is fit for man and beast but NOT ugly galoshes. With a cheeky grin, I'd then blow you a kiss. I hope it goes all the way to you in heaven.

Creative class at the Library

A couple of weeks ago I had the great pleasure of leading a group of children in a creative writing class. These kids were between the ages of six and ten, so they were too young to read my young adult book, The Twisted Climb. Nevertheless, creativity has no age limits and no boundaries - particularly with kids. I gave them three prompts: twin boys, a giraffe, and a glacier. So in the space of 40 minutes, we wrote a story about Raffie Giraffie. It was spectacular! Here's a synopsis of the story:
Twin boys, Nick and Steve, loved to slide down Raffie Giraffie's neck, through the glacier, into a cave and then into the ocean. While they were playing, along came a creature dressed like a giraffe, but it was really a tiger! When one of the boys began struggling in the water, the tiger ripped off his giraffe costume (but left on the long neck and head) and pointed to his shirt. It said, "Certified lifeguard." To the rescue went Tiger, still wearing the giraffe head like a snorkel. They became BCFs (best creature friends). The end.

There are no walls in your mind. Only those that you build.

Enjoy life!

J.C. Kavanagh
The Twisted Climb
BEST Young Adult Book 2016, P&E Readers' Poll
A novel for teens, young adults and adults young at heart
Email: author.j.c.kavanagh@gmail.com
Twitter @JCKavanagh1 (Author J.C. Kavanagh)