Welcome to Suzanne’s blog, the Chimes Café

Suzanne StenglAuthor Suzanne Stengl writes whimsical, heartwarming romance and cozy mysteries. When she needs a break from her keyboard, she swims lengths at the Y, skis at Sunshine Village and hikes in the Rockies. She’s also a pretty good line dancer . . . and a very poor euchre player.

Calgary’s Tallest Building

"The Bow" is Calgary's tallest building.On Wednesday, Rolf and I visited Calgary’s tallest building. “The Bow” is the headquarters for Encana Corporation and Cenovus Energy. Our D-I-L Liz works for Cenovus so she got us Visitor Passes and showed us around.

Suzanne and Liz

Suzanne and Liz

The building is named for the Bow River which runs through Calgary.

The Bow River as seen from the 54th floor of "The Bow"

The Bow River as seen from the 54th floor of “The Bow”

Not only is the Bow the tallest building in Calgary at 237 metres ( about 779 feet), it’s the second tallest building in Canada. There are much taller buildings in the world. At the moment, the tallest is Burj Khalifa in Dubai, at 828 metres ( about 2,717 feet).  This is the building that Tom Cruise scaled in Ghost Protocol.

You can watch the scene here:

But the Bow is the tallest building I have ever been inside. Three weeks ago, I was on the observation deck of the Calgary Tower with Debra Dixon. You see “The Bow” behind us here.

The first 24 floors are for Cenovus and above that are the offices for Encana. There are also three indoor gardens – each six storeys high. Cenovus has one at the 24th level, Encana has one at the 42nd level and there is a shared garden at level 54.

indoor gardens at The Bow

indoor gardens at The Bow

The building was completed in 2012. Its position and shape give it the maximum amount of sunshine. Solar heat is collected in the atrium and redistributed, making the building more energy efficient.

collecting sunshine

collecting sunshine

The crescent shape of the building deflects the prevailing winds, which allows for a lighter structure.

And what a view!

looking south to the Calgary Tower

looking south to the Calgary Tower

looking west to the Rocky Mountains

looking west to the Rocky Mountains

In front of the building is a 12 metre (39 foot) sculpture officially called “Wonderland”  but everyone refers to it as The Head.

The Head

The Head

A full-time security guard is on duty to keep people from climbing The Head, but it’s okay to go inside it.

inside “The Head”

inside “The Head”

Suzanne StenglHave you been up high lately? How was your view?

The Bow – full height from bigstockphoto # bigstockphoto.com #76038542

The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde

The Eyre AffairThis is what the cover of the book looks like—with all the tatters built in to the design. At least, this is what my edition looks like, there are others.

The story is fresh and fun and especially entertaining to a writer. It’s about a woman named Thursday Next who is a detective—a Literatec—in a seemingly ordinary world.

Except, it’s not really ordinary. It’s an Alternate World—one where the Crimean War has been happening for 131 years, and where the characters have names like Paige Turner and Jack Schitt and Braxton Hicks. And where the ending to the novel Jane Eyre is one you have not read.

Thursday has an Uncle Mycroft who is an inventor. Once he invented a 2B pencil with a built-in spell-checker. Now he has Bookworms that have encoded within their DNA all the dictionaries of the English language. And thesauruses too. Or rather, thesauri. He calls them HyperBookworms.

With the help of the Bookworms, he creates a Prose Portal where his wife (Polly) gets stuck inside a Wordsworth poem. Meanwhile an evil genius is stealing the great original manuscripts of the world, including Jane Eyre.

Jasper Fforde has an incredible imagination, a smooth writing style and a plot that sweeps you along. This is a thoroughly enjoyable and satisfying read. To read a sample, go here.

So far, there are seven books in the Thursday Next series and they include: The Eyre Affair, Lost in a Good Book, The Well of Lost Plots, Something Rotten, First Among Sequels, One of our Thursdays is Missing and The Woman Who Died a Lot.

I’ll be moving on to the second book in the series now.

Have you read any of the Thursday Next series? Did you have fun?

Debra Dixon Workshop

It was one of those amazing weekends. On Saturday May 2, 2015, the Calgary Association of the RWA held its Spring Workshop with guest speaker Debra Dixon. Debra is a writer and a publisher at BelleBooks.

Debra landed in Calgary on Friday. That night, the CARWA Board of Directors took her to the Sky 360 revolving restaurant at the Calgary Tower. Since I am the Membership Chair for the group, I was invited. And Amy Jo Fleming was invited since she was the critique winner. We enjoyed a lively conversation as we dined on menu items like Foie Gras and Goat Cheese Mousse, Wild Board Striploin and Wild Game Meatloaf Wellington. Then we headed up to the observation deck where we tested the glass floor.

Here’s the whole group.

CARWA Board of Directors

standing L to R: Amy Jo Fleming, Treasurer Brenda Sinclair, Debra Dixon, President Shelley Kassian, Secretary Katie O’Connor, VP Communications Win Day, VP Programs Ellen Jorgensen. Kneeling: Membership Chair Suzanne Stengl

The next morning, I arrived at the Valley Ridge Golf Club at about 8:30. The workshop started with breakfast at 9:00. That’s a great way to get attendees there on time. Debra began her presentation at 10:00 sharp.

We learned about the Goal Motivation Conflict chart, Dominant Impressions and Tag Lines. The Valley Ridge Golf Club served up a delicious buffet lunch at 12:30 and we recommenced an hour later with Debra presenting her take on the Hero’s Journey.

About four o’clock, we started a “finding your voice” exercise and Debra passed the microphone around the room for members to read samples of their work.

After the formal workshop finished,  about a dozen of us moved over to the onsite restaurant, Mulligan’s. Debra and Amy Jo stayed in the workshop room to review Amy Jo’s critique submission. And then they joined us at Mulligan’s. There was food and drink and Debra answered more questions and gave us more writing advice.

B. C. Deeks and I were the last to leave—about 8:30 pm. A twelve hour day and completely worth it. I’m still going over my notes and processing all this information.

If you can’t get to a Debra Dixon workshop, you must buy her book: Goal, Motivation, and Conflict. This is one of the most helpful resources a writer can have on the bookshelf.

My New Dual Flush Toilet

2015-04-28 bigstock85342511Last Saturday, we finally bought one of those dual flush toilets. Our son Ryan helped Rolf to carry the box from the car to the house. And then on Monday, our son Kyle helped to install it. At almost 109 pounds, this toilet is very heavy.

Our choice: the American Standard Tofino Dual Flush Complete One Piece 1.08/1.59 Gallon Elongated Toilet

It would have been easier to carry and install if I had agreed to the two piece model but I wanted the one piece because it’s easier to clean.

Efficiency

The old toilet used 13 litres per flush—about 3 ½ gallons.

Here is our old 13 litre (3 ½ gallon) water guzzler.

Here is our old 13 litre (3 ½ gallon) water guzzler.

Our new toilet uses either 4 litres or 6 litres (1 to 1 ½ gallons) depending on what it has to deal with.

dual flush toilet

Here is our new dual flush toilet which uses either 4 or 6 litres—1 to 1 ½ gallons.

Home Depots says: This high-efficiency, ultra-low consumption model is WaterSense ® certified and uses 20% less water than standard toilets.

The “20% less water” will be excellent for the utility bill. And because this is WaterSense certified, that means we get the rebate from the City of Calgary. To encourage citizens to get rid of their water guzzling toilets, you can apply for a $50 mail-in rebate.

Ease of install

You definitely need two people to lower this model onto the wax ring that connects it to the plumbing, and the bolts that connect it to the floor. Remember, it weighs about 109 pounds. As long as you have a strong husband and a strong son, it’s not as bad as it sounds. Just don’t expect this to be a one-man or one-woman job.

Sawdust girl has a great write-up of how she installed one of these toilets.

Ease of cleaning

Home depot says: Its seamless one-piece design with smooth-sided, concealed trapway is both eye catching and easier to clean.

I wanted the one piece model because it does not have all those cracks and crannies to clean. On a two piece model, the bolts that hold the toilet in place are covered by knobs. And I have always hated the way those knobs collect all that gunk and grime. With this new toilet, all that stuff is out of sight. And the toilet is clean with a quick swoosh. Not only that, this technology has some kind of “PowerWash” system that scrubs the bowl with each flush and keeps it cleaner longer.

Effectiveness

It’s fine to be easy-to-clean and water efficient, but this contraption still needs to be effective. And it is. It has a MaP Rating of 1000 grams.

(MaP = Maximum Performance Rating)

To see what this means, watch this YouTube on Epic Flushing Power.

All this and my new toilet comes with a . . .

Soft Close Seat

A Soft Close toilet seat uses a slow-close hinge system that lowers the toilet seat gently and practically silently. The seat comes with an EverClean finish which helps the seat and cover stay clean by inhibiting the growth of bacteria, mold and mildew.

Feng Shui

And then there is Feng Shui.

Before flushing, close the lid, so that germs don’t spray into the room. That’s just common sense.

Feng Shui also tells us that an open toilet lid lets energy drain from the room. I have no idea about that, but to me, the room seems more soothing and settled with the lid closed. With the Soft Close lid and a gentle tap, there is no noise involved and no excuse not to close it.

Toilet Trivia

2015-04-28 the big necessity

 Interested in toilets from around the world?

You might enjoy Rose George’s The Big Necessity: The Unmentionable World of Human Waste and Why It Matters 

It’s interesting and eye-opening and told with wit and humour. I recommend it.

 

2015-04-28 KennyHave you seen the movie, Kenny?

Kenny is a mockumentary about porta-potties and the man who services them. It’s comedic but with a kind of unexpected heroism.

And for something totally ridiculous there is:

Girls Don’t Poop. Watch it here.

Have you installed a dual flush toilet yet? What do you think of the trade-off between weeks of Easy Clean and an install of Really Heavy? Have you watched Kenny? What do you think of the Feng Shui of toilet lids?

2015-04-28 bigstock 83275571

bathroom from bigstockphoto.com #85342511
pink toilet paper from bigstockphoto.com #83275571

Wires

computer wires under my deskI got a new monitor and I was getting my wires crossed so I decided to sort out the mess.

First, let me tell you about the monitor. On Tuesday, I brought home a 24 inch Samsung SD390. It had a beautiful display but I didn’t like the stand. I type so fast that I set up a vibration and that was making the screen shake. So the next day, I returned the SD390 and purchased the SD590. It has the same beautiful display but with a more solid stand.

I’ve been using two monitors for some time now. This new one is my main screen and I have an older monitor, also 24 inches, that I use for a secondary screen. Since it’s older, the colours are not as vibrant but, hey, it works.

Why two monitors?

I open Scrivener on my main screen. On the secondary monitor I  have several WORD documents open: a name chart, a calendar of what happens when, a list of threads to keep track of, and an INSPIRATION mind map that shows my character relationships.

Add a cup of coffee to this setup, and I am in my perfect writing place.

helpful husbandI have a helpful husband. A long time ago, he installed an 8 outlet surge protector under my desk to deal with the computer wires but since then I have found more things to plug in. So yesterday he installed another bar. This one has 7 outlets, giving me a total of 15. I’m only using 11 of them. Maybe I should buy another lamp? (just kidding!)

What’s under there?

I have power for:

  • CPU
  • main monitor
  • secondary monitor
  • speakers
  • USB splitter
  • inkjet printer
  • laserjet printer
  • external hard drive
  • backup hard drive
  • really bright lamp
  • cell phone charger

And this is the final configuration.

computer wires under my deskKudos to Rolf. Gotta love a hubby with power tools!