Like most everyone who’s ever seen, walked past or entered into it, my thoughts today are with Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral, and the devastation that was wrought upon this 700-plus-year-old signpost on the journey of humanity from the middle ages to modern times. It’s truly heartbreaking to bear witness to the conflagration that gutted this majestic monument yesterday and I have a few personal memories to share. I’ll do that here on Good Friday. I hadn’t planned a journal that day, but it seems fitting.
Today our thoughts are with our frères and soeurs in the City of Light, whose spirit finds itself, no doubt, struggling deep in the dark. I’m thinking, too, of our friends Gerry and Ian, who left for a week’s vacation in Paris after Gerry put together our Amsterdam cruise. No doubt they were immersed in the same sadness and incredulity as everyone else in the city - and indeed around the world - yesterday.
And on to trivial things.
I’ve so many more pictures from our fantastic Tulip Time cruise from Amsterdam down to Belgium and back to Amsterdam. Don’t ask me why we passed this ark on our way, but there it is! It's known as Johan's Ark and it's moored in Dordrecht.
I’ll have more pics tomorrow - and thanks to Mary and everyone else who posted their own pics on my Facebook page yesterday - but I had to do something else today.
You see, this is a second big “birthday” of sorts for Mourning Has Broken and for readers here who have been asking for an audio version of the book.
Sitting there next to my microphone is a mug Rob bought me for Christmas down south and the tiny travelling urn that we take with us: a little blackbird containing a few of Lauren’s ashes. I wanted her there at the mic with me as we did this.
When first the idea of writing Mourning Has Broken was suggested, we were told that it would be up in the air as to whether an audio version would be needed; Canadians, we were told, weren’t that into books in that listenable format. Today, we hope to disprove that notion.
Throughout the month of January, between visitors, Rob and I would steal out to the little Shasta trailer in the backyard of the property we rented in Palm Springs. Truth be told, that little white and yellow retro unit was one of the main reasons that we chose that property!
We would sit out there for hours, waiting out bouts of rain that sounded like sizzling through my microphone, praying that neighbours’ leaf blowers would soon stop or that the sky-writing bi-plane overhead (yes, a real thing) would give it a rest. Somehow, amidst all of those obstacles, we got this book recorded.
Only a few times did I have to stop to cry or get my emotions under control; mostly they came during the chapter about saying good-bye to Lauren and playing our little 20 Kisses game. Rob, on the other hand, would sniffle quietly as he sat at his computer at the other end of the small trailer. While I was concentrating on holding it together for a few brief parts and being true to the words on the page, he was hearing our story in my voice. It was hard for him, no doubt about it. We both knew this wasn’t going to be easy and it’s another reason why we were quite intent on recording it ourselves, together.
And then, once our hours and hours of putting my voice into a mic and computer were done, Rob’s job was to edit. And edit. And edit. To eliminate the many throat-clearings that resulted from cream in my coffee (or so I believe). To cut out the stumbles, wrong words, slurs - all of those things that, in radio, we just barrelled on through, but would not DO in an audio book!
To add music to sweeten the chapters’ beginnings and endings, to enhance the story with a few special sounds (including Lauren’s voice) and to cut in the foreword as narrated by Jann Arden in her own words. You will also be treated to a rendition of the lovely Celtic poem “She Does Not Leave” from our friend Lisa Brandt. And you’ll love Lauren’s laugh after the little joke at the end of the book.
This is certainly an uphill climb, but I’d love to prove that audio books - especially in the author’s own voice (like the one we enjoyed from CNN’s Jake Tapper last summer as we drove to Utah, Idaho and Nevada) - really can be successful. So I’ll ask you to pass this journal and/or link along to any of your friends who either has a long commute or prefers to listen to audio books and podcasts over actual reading. Thank you for that.
And what a joy it was signing books on the cruise! Thanks to all who brought theirs or had me sign dedications for friends.
And here’s to new beginnings - AGAIN! We’re about to post details on two fundraisers in Ontario that you can attend if you'd like - the evening of June 4 at Markham Theatre (for Markham Stouffville Hospital) and on the afternoon of June 6 in Alliston (for Matthews House Hospice) - or book signings at Indigo stores in Mississauga and Kitchener that same week. I’ll share details as soon as I get them 100% firmed up in the What’s UP section of this website.
In the meantime, more stories and pictures of our Netherlands travels here tomorrow. I think you’ll love our update on how our friend Mike Cooper is doing! Take good care and thank you for sharing this entire journey. What a joy it’s been to bring you along!
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