Respite is a wonderful thing!

Even if you love your work, as I do, having the talented Elaine Murray take over this space gave me a truly restorative holiday. Thank you, Elaine.

What does one do on holiday? Well, for me, it takes a week for the buzzing to stop... you know, the multi-tasking checking email, writing, answering phone messages, scheduling clients. Not only that, the mental multi-tasking needs to stop and that takes awhile too.

And so by week two of my vacation I had settled on my author... Diana Gabaldon, for 2006. It has been my pattern for several years to pick an author and read everything they've written. I find it remarkable to experience their growth as a writer, to be with them for various stages of their lives.

With reading (in a hammock) as a major occupation, it could be said that I spent my time in solitary confinement. But, no! It's family time, too. And one evening we cleared the big table in our one-room living/dining area and got our creative juices flowing and began to make greeting cards.

Kids Two and Three were most enthused about this and we used sophisticated paper pieces, dictionary definitions, some handy clips and corners and produced some pretty fine greetings. Then I got the idea to go 'retro' and hauled out one of my four typewriters. This one is a 1967 manual Smith Corona with a broken 'n' key. And then Kid One had his own Smith Corona typewriter, only it was for printing labels. The type is very large... excellent for card words.

Kid Three (who is 28) grabbed the typewriter with great gusto. She had a number of meaningful phrases at top of mind and wanted to type them out while they were still present.

Now, folks, you've heard me complain for years about the demeaning difficulties posed by technology! I can't start a DVD without calling a kid for technical support. In fact, I spent much of an evening watching what I thought was a very boring movie until Kid Two came home and informed me I was watching the out-takes! I can't set the clock on the VCR, either. Yes, we still have a VCR because, in theory, we can record our favourite programs. In theory.

Anyway, for the first time since 1985 I had the upper hand with the technology being used at the cottage.

Kid Three couldn't figure out how to get the typewriter out of its case. "How do you release this? " She was puzzled.

Demonstration #1 and I clicked the bottom release pin on the case and out came the typewriter.

"Where's the 'on' button?" she asked. I wiggled my fingers.

She started to type.

"Is there a return key?" I gestured to the silver swoosh at the left of the carriage.

"Where's the delete key?" Well, try the backspace and this old circular wheeled eraser.

"Jeez. How do you make a hyphen? Where's the tab key? How do you set the tabs?" I flipped the back flap behind the carriage and pulled out little clips that could be inserted into appropriate slots for tab work. She decided to use the space bar instead.

"How do I change the colour of the keys and the font?" Flip up that little tab on the face of the typewriter, the one that has a black or red indicator beside it. It'll adjust the whole carriage and you'll get the colour you want. Font? What's font? You take what you get and I believe it's looking alot like Times.

"Well, where's the bold button?" she asked.

There is no bold button. Underline what you want to emphasize! My patience was wearing thin by now. She hadn't typed two lines and had asked at least a dozen questions.

My goodness we hadn't even begun to deal with margins, spacing, centreing, capitals. Typing class was an entire grade 11 course!

For just a few minutes I felt technically superior... a rare feeling and one that was shortlived. But it gave me some idea of the kids' frustration when I call up asking how to select a DVD, how to find a channel on the TV, how to change my internet settings, how to record from CD to tape... (I know, I know!)

A typical, family, productive, creative evening at the cottage.

And we've got the greeting cards to prove it!

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