Saturday, December 28, 2013

Meme Mon...Saturday, and something about Festivus.

Nicole and I are bringing memes back, so in typical Nicole-and-Allison fashion, Nicole brought memes back starting two days BEFORE Christmas, and Hannah brought memes back very soon after, and me? Here I am straggling in on whatever the hell day this is, when it's really just a little pathetic to still be talking about Christmas television, but I'M OKAY WITH THAT. Nicole also takes her Christmas tree down the day after Christmas and ruthlessly sweeps out and puts away every pine needle, silver bell and sparkly ribbon, so we're clearly just barely the same species.

What is your favourite Christmas television special, and why?

A Charlie Brown Christmas. I love The Grinch, and Frosty the Snowman, and, truthfully, all the other dumbass specials that Family Channel spits out at this time of year. But nothing gets me right in the heart like a Vince Guaraldi soundtrack, those manically dancing little Peanuts figures and that pitiful little tree.

When I was still in the hospital after having Angus, I was holding him after breastfeeding with his little head in my hand, and he had his eyes closed and his mouth in this adorable little pursed shape, and I suddenly thought he looked kind of like this:

What is your least favourite Christmas special, and why?

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Nicole and Hannah already said it all.

What is the Christmas movie you cannot live without? 

Mickey's Christmas Carol. We didn't really watch Christmas movies when I was a kid, so this started when Angus was very small. When the Ghost of Christmas Present visits Scrooge, he comes with a feast, and he talks about mince pies and sausages and and then he says "and don't forget the chocolate pot roast with simash....with smishsmashio...with shiminashimina....with yogoit" (he's trying to say 'pistachio'). This made Angus, and later Eve, dissolve into gales of laughter and repeat the line endlessly. The first time my mom made the dessert she makes with whipped cream, ice cream and pistachio pudding, his eyes almost fell out of his head. We usually watch it Christmas Eve, but this year Angus was sick and went to bed early, so we watched it Christmas Day, all crowded into the pull-out bed in the basement.

Name a Christmas special from your childhood that is so obscure you're not even sure it exists.

Honey, I have enough trouble remembering the stuff that actually DID happen.

Name a 'very special' Christmas episode of your favourite childhood television series.

Damn. I should have just skipped this meme. I can't even remember if I HAD a favourite childhood television series. I liked The Littlest Hobo. Is that lame? That's lame, isn't it? Look, I'm old, we only had two channels for most of my childhood. For what it's worth, I love the Big Bang Theory episode where Penny gives Sheldon a napkin signed by Leonard Nimoy and he freaks out and tries to give her a hug as a reciprocal gift of equivalent worth, and Leonard says "it's a Saturnalia miracle!"

Okay, I'm off to work on my 2013 book round-up posts which will make you all love me again.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Ten Books

The lovely, talented, sweet-as-toffee-pretzel-bark and ever-so-bendy Nicole decided we should take this Facebook meme to the blogosphere. I have a tendency to overthink these things (I'm sure you never would have guessed) so I've been avoiding it on Facebook, but here it is three days since I've blogged AGAIN, it's 9:30 p.m. and I'm waiting for white chocolate and coconut to firm up enough to scoop into truffles, and who am I to look a gift meme in the mouth?

So. Ten books that have stayed with you. Ten books. Jesus. According to Goodreads I've read about 1500 that I've remembered/been willing to admit to. And these days even the things that stay with me don't stay with me, my memory being you know, that thing you use to sift flour and shit. And, unlike Nicole, I'm not a great rereader - not because I don't think rereading is a wonderful and worthwhile enterprise, but because I'm always feeling like I have to forge ahead in the name of shortening to TBR pile. But I'm trying to change that.

Anyway. Without poring over my list on Goodreads or looking at my bookshelves (until the list was done), I scoured my memory for books that made a deep impression, and this is what I've come up with. My pictures won't be as great as Nicole's either, because I don't own all of them (why don't I own all of them? Cripes, I own all the OTHER books in the world).

The Front Runner
I found this on my parents' bookshelf when I was around ten. I don't THINK I read it just for the sex, but I honestly don't remember well enough to swear to it. I didn't know then that it was, according to some, "the most popular gay love story of all time", or that it was, in the words of some reviewers "so.....extraordinarily bad". But I do think it went a long to way towards laying the foundation for my positive feelings about homosexuality. I remember the love story more than I remember the sex, and I remember feeling outraged about the bigotry and hatred that they had to face, especially because the people, and the love story just came across as so....normal. Despite my rereading project, I think it might be best if I let my rosy memories stand and avoid revisiting this one.

The Death of Ivan Ilyich
I read this in graduate school (in, not for) and I would pair this with One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch by Solzhenitsyn as classics that I read and actually felt like I got it. Okay, not necessarily got "it", but got SOMETHING, rather than feeling like a giant hoax was being perpetrated on me by the Western canon. There's a scene in Ivan Ilyich where the old man is lying in pain in his dark room and sees a light under his door and feels hope that the household is waking up and someone will come in to comfort him, and then the light goes out and he realizes that the last person has just gone to bed and he has to suffer through the entire night alone; this scene just gives me chills.

Bel Canto 
Read this for book club a few years ago. Blown. Away. I have trouble remembering the plotlines of books I read two weeks ago, and yet almost every moment of this story is burned into my mind. The heat. The fear. The moments of passionate connection. The episodes of farcical comedy. The heartbreaking conclusion. And I am ready to argue my point of view with anyone who thinks the ending is stupid, although I won't because of spoilers.

The Diaries of Virginia Woolf
Started reading these in university. I don't know how she had the time and energy to write such brilliant, sensitive, insightful, reflective prose in a diary and still write all the other things she became famous for (which, if I am totally honest, I still admire less than the writing in the diary, although I think reading the diaries made me more receptive to Mrs. Dalloway).

The Fionavar Tapestry
I love this trilogy so much it has pride of place beside my ugly childhood lion bank. Zarah recommended it to me in university as a great story with characters you fall in love with. It has love, courage, loyalty, tragedy, sacrifice, and it's just a thumping good read.

The Edible Woman or Lady Oracle or Cat's Eye or Surfacing
I can't decide. They all made a fairly deep impression on me. I did scenes from The Edible Woman for my drama solo in grade ten and it got me the drama award even though my teacher used to shake his head in sorrow every time I tried to do anything else in the class (I couldn't say four words without bursting into hysterical giggles).

The Hobbit
A female relative (by some tortuous Polish lines of descent) who I adored lent me this when I was quite young. I did love the story (I never managed to make my way through the Lord of the Rings trilogy) but more than that, it was the first time an older person gave me a book that was targeted towards older people and clearly thought that I was ready for it. This was in marked contrast to the woman at the library who wouldn't let me take out books without my dad coming to pick me up and approving them all first.

A Swiftly Tilting Planet
I loved A Wrinkle in Time and all the other Madeleine L'Engle books in this series, but this one in particular struck me with the force of its imagery, and its belief in the transforming power of family, hope, and literature. My L'Engle experience is also the exact inverse of my Woolf experience - reading L'Engle's journals was interesting but really took the shine off of her as a person for me, whereas I adore every work of fiction by her that I've ever read. Subsequent biographical information I've come across about her was completely devastating - I would have much preferred to keep my illusions in this case.

Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus
I read this before I knew any of the distressing facts about Orson Scott Card that I know now. Finishing it was like emerging out of some beautiful dream world. It completely submerged me in the beautiful dream of being able to go back and change things, make them turn out right this time, and the detail and thought that went into constructing the new reality was fascinating. I recognize that it's naive in a way, and that there's every chance that even if we COULD do this kind of thing we would just end up buggering it up in the same or new horrible ways, but I was completely transported by the fiction anyway.

To Kill a Mockingbird
I love what Nicole said - Harper Lee never wrote anything else, and why would she? My tearing-up moment is when Atticus is confronted by the angry white men at the jail and Scout derails them by talking to them about their children, and after they've left another man speaks up and says "had you covered the whole time, Atticus". I had a cat named Atticus. My sister had cats named Scout and Boo. And it strikes me now that I should be bitch-slapped for not rereading this every two years or so. My dad read it again a few years ago and gave me his old copy, but I'm not sure where it is right now.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Mondays on the Margins: Mending the Moon by Susan Palwick

Synopsis from Goodreads: Melinda Soto, aged sixty-four, vacationing in Mexico, is murdered by a fellow American tourist. 

Back in her hometown of Reno, Nevada, she leaves behind her adopted son, Jeremy, whom she rescued from war-torn Guatamala when he was a toddler—just one of her many causes over the years. And she leaves behind a circle of friends: Veronique, the academic stuck in a teaching job from which she can't retire; Rosemary, who's losing her husband to Alzheimer's and who's trying to lose herself in volunteer work; Henrietta, the priest at Rosemary's and Melinda's church.

Jeremy already had a fraught relationship with his charismatic mother and the people in her orbit. Now her death is tearing him apart, and he can barely stand the rituals of remembrance that ensue among his mother’s friends. Then the police reveal who killed Melinda: a Seattle teenager who flew home to his parents and drowned himself just days later.

It's too much. Jeremy's not the only one who can't deal. Friendships fray. But the unexpected happens: an invitation to them all, from the murderer's mother, to come to Seattle for his memorial. It's ridiculous. And yet, somehow, each of them begins to see in it a chance to heal. Aided, in peculiar ways, by Jeremy's years-long obsession with the comic-book hero Comrade Cosmos, and the immense cult of online commentary it's spawned.

Shot through with feeling and inventiveness, Susan Palwick's Mending the Moon is a novel of the odd paths that lead to home.

Let's just be up-front about something here: I can't review anything by Susan Palwick with anything approaching objectivity. Ever since I read Flying in Place I've been the most slavishly adoring fan girl ever, and as far as I'm concerned she never puts a word wrong. Her other novels before this one were The Necessary Beggar and Shelter, and she has a kick-ass short story collection called The Fate of Mice.

You know how sometimes an author writes a story you love and it pisses you off when they try to strike out in a new direction? Sometimes it works really well (I was completely dismayed when Laura Lippman wrote a book that wasn't a Tess Monaghan book, and yet To the Power of Three and Every Secret Thing are among my very favourite mysteries - actually, among my very favourite books, period). Sometimes you're totally right and you just have to suck it up and wait another damned year for the next series book. And then sometimes an author writes amazing stand-alones and then decides to write a series and that's annoying too.

With Susan Palwick, I never quite know what I'm going to get, except that there will probably be an element of the fantastic, the work will be suffused with a spirit of kindness and generosity, and I will love it. Flying in Place was a sometimes grimly realistic book with a supernatural element. The Necessary Beggar had an entire imaginary world twinned with our own. Shelter was futuristic and more overtly science-fictiony (yes, I've decided that's the technical term).

So I thought I might not love Mending the Moon quite as much as The Necessary Beggar or Shelter, because I really like imaginative world-making and futuristic science-fictiony books. And I was right. I didn't (I cannnot sully my Palwick worship with lies). BUT I still loved it.

Mending the Moon is pretty much wholly realistic, although the story is interleaved with stories from issues of Captain Cosmos, a comic book that is important to several characters in the book - this device works just as well as it did in The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, which is very, very well. In this book, Palwick tackles foreign adoption, losing a parent to murder, being the parent of a child who commits an atrocity, and the forces of entropy. Except she doesn't "tackle" anything, because that would be tacky and obvious and Palwick is never tacky and obvious. Everything just sort of flows organically and swirls around colourfully and seems sort of simple and right even when it's horribly sad and inexplicable. The characters aren't all lovable or perfect, but they're wholly realized and authentic. There are no easy answers, but there is closure of a sort.

So it turns out Palwick can write a book without talking houses or portals to other worlds or intelligent mice, and still be brilliant.

I do so hope the next one has a talking house or mouse, though. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

My Bark is Better than My Bite

This is what I did this afternoon:

The ones on the right (toffee shortbread or shortbread meltaways - my recipe is on a pink page from a flour recipe book, and I've miraculously managed not to lose it - this is almost exactly the same) has become my go-to Christmas cookie over the past few years, and one of the only cookies I can actually "whip up", which to me means very little recipe consultation - since my memory's gotten so bad and I'm a bit obsessive, following a recipe usually means frequent and repeated looking back at the recipe between adding and stirring things. The kids love them, they freeze like a dream well, shortbread, and Skor bits, so duh.

In the middle is salted chocolate toffee pretzel bark, which I found last year, I think by Googling pretzel toffee bark (okay, not the most gripping story - the recipe makes up for it). Every time someone tastes it, their first question is whether you need a candy thermometer to make it, and once they know there's no hard-crack or soft-ball stuff involved (hey, candy-making terms all sound dirty, I never noticed that before) then they ask for the recipe. My husband told me I have to take the rest of it out of the house.

On the left are these that I found on the Yummy Mummy Club website. I made them for the first time today. For how pretty they look, they're not that much work, but I'm not sure they're delicious enough to make a whole bunch. I'd like to find a way to get a bit more stuff on them to balance out the chocolate a little. I'm also not sure why they're called mendiants, which I believe means homeless people in French and I find that a tad disturbing (resolutely not Googling something again on the grounds that it might torpedo my ridiculous argument). They do look pretty cool, though. I added some red walnuts that I got to make shortbread since the dried cranberries weren't bright red enough, and I used pumpkin seeds instead of sunflower for greenness.

I have dough chilling in the fridge for smoked sea salt maple sugar shortbread and blue cheese warming for blue cheese walnut shortbread for my dad. But I'm not sure what else to make. I just typed five different versions of 'leave your favourite Christmas cookie in your comment!' and they all sound douchey. If you want to, though, go ahead. 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Evan from EvoShield gets me. He really gets me.

Alternate title: "Most embarrassing thing I've had to ask about since going to Rogers Video and saying "um, I was wondering if you happened to have noticed that I mistakenly returned an Iron Man DVD case with a Dora's Mermaid Adventure DVD inside?" Well, the most embarrassing one I'm willing to admit, anyway.
Adams Fami
Adams Family McCaskill
Dec 07 10:14 PM (EST)
I'm trying to get into my account to see what colour socks I ordered my son and it keeps saying my password is wrong (I didn't think it was, but it's possible), but I asked for my password to be emailed to me and still haven't gotten the email. And I need to order the right coloured freaking socks before Christmas. How do I proceed?

Evan (EvoShield)
Dec 09 05:21 PM (EST)
Hey Allison,
Sorry you had an issues with locating your order. If the order was placed as a Guest then you probably can not access it without the order information. Do you know what name the order was placed under and I'll be happy to assist you with the information for your order!
EvoShield Customer Service
Adams Fami
Adams Family McCaskill
Dec 09 06:39 PM (EST)
Hmm. I didn't think I placed it as a guest, but my memory is crap lately (I blame the children) so maybe that was it. In any case, I searched my email and found the order (with the right colour socks, praise the lord) so I'm okay for now. Thanks for getting back to me.

Evan (EvoShield)
Dec 09 08:21 PM (EST)
Haha I completely understand that! Please let me know if there is anything else I can assist you with! Happy Holidays and good luck with the rest of your shopping! :) Thank you for supporting EvoShield!!
EvoShield Customer Service

Thursday, December 5, 2013

In which I will not talk about The Shining the way I thought I was going to

Last year when I was about to embark on my -- hang on a second -- FOURTH NaBloPoMo (I was about to say 'third or fourth' and then I remembered that a couple of weeks ago I asked my friend if her husband's law practice had been open for more than a year and she told me it was FOUR, so I counted), a friend warned me that NaBloPoMo had killed her blog. I always think it kind of resurrects mine - the fact that I'm obligated (however artificially) to post every day removes a lot of the pressure to post only weighty or worthy or thrice-polished material, and it gets me back in the habit of writing, after a fall season where school and activites have started and my resolve is often flagging.

When NaBloPoMo ends, I usually post again the day after or the second day after, and I think "yeah! I've GOT this! I'm going to keep posting every day! Or almost every day!" And then another day or two goes by, and I've got an idea of what my next post will be, but it's not NaBloPoMo any more, so I don't HAVE to post, so I think, I'll wait until I have a little more time to work on it. Because I have to go in to the library today. And then I have to take the van in to the shop. And then Eve and I have to get flu shots.

And then it becomes apparent how quickly I can fall into the habit of very much not posting every day again.

So I won't be presenting a carefully-marshaled discourse on The Shining, or goodness knows when we'll all be meeting here again. I'll just throw some thoughts down and not let the Cement of Endless Deferral harden on here any longer.

I can't remember how old I was the first time I read The Shining, but I think I was too young to understand a lot of the subtleties. I do remember being kind of confused and a little grossed out by the sex stuff - which is really tame and between married consenting adults, so I must have been pretty young. There was a bit about a bisexual movie producer or something and a gay man in a dog suit where the sexual subtext COMPLETELY escaped me last time. A lot of it felt like I was reading it for the first time - it wasn't even like I didn't remember it but then rereading it brought back the echo, it was like new stuff was there.

Like I always think about the best horror, this book isn't about the surface scariness of monsters or ghosts or dark places. It's about the kind of sadness that comes welded to any kind of love. It's about being afraid, not just that you'll lose the people you love, but that it will somehow be your fault - that you won't have been strong or selfless enough, and that the loss and grief will be deserved.

While I was reading, I kept thinking about how back in elementary school we used to study "themes" in literature, and I saw "MAN vs. NATURE" and "MAN vs. HIMSELF" on a blackboard in big block letters. The struggle within Jack Torrance, against his weaknesses, against alcoholism, against the fear that he'd never live up to his early promise, against the fear that he'd lost his wife and son - is illustrated masterfully.
Woman against herself too, which is another thing I didn't remember from the first reading - Wendy's fear that she'll turn out like her mother and destroy her son, or at the very least her relationship with him.

There's a dreadful inevitability about it all too, which is a huge part of the claustrophobic atmosphere. They all sort of "know" that if they stay something terrible will happen, but it's something completely inexplicable and undemonstrable, and the consequences of leaving are so tangible and horrible, that they CAN'T leave until the terrible thing actually happens, so they stay and HOPE it won't actually happen, although they KNOW... endless loop.

I remembered again how much I adored Dick Hallorann, the cook at The Overlook who pegs Danny for a Super Mind-Power Ninja instantly and moves heaven and earth to help him when things go south. It reminded me of King's gift for sketching a character you can love as much as someone in your own family in the space of a page or two. Hallorann's character is one of the principal reasons for my loathing of the movie.

The device of the topiary animals that went into attack mode at certain times didn't really work for me. I wondered if King was just trying not to confine all of the action to the hotel. It seemed kind of silly, although I might have not been able to envision it properly - it's the kind of thing that would probably be scary in real life, but in writing it was just Hedge Animals Gone Bad, and it didn't work for me.

That's all I can think of at the moment. Steph has taught this book - I wish she'd teach it to me. I feel like I could benefit from a lecture or two on it.

I still have to watch the movie again. I did read an article that said Stephen King didn't like Shelley Duvall's part in the movie either (or any of the movie)  - he said she was basically there to "scream and be stupid". I also found this movie on Netflix - "an exploration of various theories of Stanley Kubrick's film The Shining", so clearly I'm going to have to watch that.

On the whole, I think the book was really good. But I don't think it's one of my all-time King favourites. It might be interesting to rank them. Maybe I'll do a post on it.

Probably not tomorrow, though.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Mondays on the Margins: Remember When I Used to Write Coherently About Books?

I have high hopes that I will again someday.

Today is not that day.

I wanted to write about a book of short stories that I took out of the library. I looked at the book notes that I keep as Word files, hoping that I had made notes on it, although I had no memory of making notes on it - I do many things that I have no memory of doing these days.

I didn't make notes on it. I also didn't order a copy of it when I ordered books the other day, using the gift cards Angus gave me because he had a bunch piled up in his room and was never going to use them (talk about a gift that makes you simultaneously exultant and despairing). I would have put it on my list of books to buy; in fact, I might have. But I can't find the list.

I feel a little like I'm walking on a disappearing path.

 Today while we were sitting waiting for our estimate at the collision centre, I told Matt that I was throwing in a load of laundry in last night, intending to go to bed right afterwards, then I went and told Angus that he should go to bed and read for a bit, and he looked at me like I was crazy and said "remember, a couple hours ago, we said we're watching The Walking Dead at nine?" I said to my husband "there's something wrong with me." "No there isn't," he said "I live my whole life the same way." I said "THEN THERE'S SOMETHING WRONG WITH YOU TOO!"

So I looked over some of my book notes, which is always diverting. It's funny how there are some fonts that make me feel like the person that typed those notes was very young. I can't decide why, or if I should change the font.

I use the word "haunting" a lot.

Is it possible that I was ever organized enough and had enough time to take notes on every single story in short story collections?

Then again, I'm not sure how I convinced myself that "refugees, thieves, phonograph, crying" or "man from Vietnam owns one of John Lennon's shoes" was going to adequately recall a story for me. At least it reminds me of whether I'd like to revisit a story, I guess. Or maybe I could use them as bizarre poetry:

Man charged with taking a group of madmen
across the city to asylum
Stops at cafe with friends
loses the madmen
Picks up twelve of "the most insane looking peasants" waiting for construction work
drops them off at the hospital
No one seems to notice the difference.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Thirty Days Has November

Last day. It always feels like I should have some big wrap-up 'ending' post, and I don't think I ever do. I don't feel like I covered myself in glory, but it's kind of like when halfway through a canoe trip I wonder why the hell I ever thought this was a good idea, and then at some further point it becomes clear that some things you just do to see if you can do them. You might not do them perfectly (especially if you're in a canoe with a crazy Austrian who periodically takes it into his head to see how well a canoe corners) and they might not change your life, but you commit, and you complete, and you feel a kind of quiet satisfaction, or it would be quiet if the thing itself didn't require you to GO ON TYPING EVERY DAY FOR A GODDAMNED MONTH.

Okay, clearly I'm still a little conflicted.

I am grateful beyond words to all of you for keeping me company through this bleak and bumpy space of days (Steph - you're so cute. Don't ever, ever apologize for commenting on the wrong post, or commenting twice, or commenting "blue clowns make the typewriter choose yogurt" or whatever. The fact that you're taking the time to comment while you're away from home makes me want to buy you a coffee, or tea, or spinach burrito or something - in fact, if I can figure out how to buy a gift card in Canada that works in the states, I will send you one in a Christmas card). I always worry that NaBloPoMo might turn out as a string of commentless, increasingly desperate posts, possibly with pathetic promises to give stuff away or flash my boobs as the month wears on. I consider you all pearls of great price.

I'm hoping we can get a Christmas tree tomorrow and start hauling out the Christmas boxes, although I think the door to the storage space is still choked with Halloween boxes - I always tell myself I'm going to get organized BEFORE December first, because if I wait to start on that day then nothing will actually happen until at least December fifth. I whiled away today in my reading chair with this book and this book and this book (well, those were the ones I read, I was also surrounded by piles of other books - I use one or two of them to prop up my ipad if the book is on that) and I tried to start this book and then I got very sleepy so I played Words With Friends and turned on some music and stood up and did jumping jacks, and then I sat back down and felt sleepy again, and within the space of about ten seconds went from the "no, I slept in, I can't possibly need more sleep, if I nap I'll just screw up my night, I'm going to finish this book today, I'll get up and do something and then come back and read" to an equally definitive "FUCK IT, I'm napping" and the bed was delicious and my white blanket felt like a cloud on top of me and I had the most blissful perfect nap of all time.

I played the piano three times last week. I worked out three times this week. I bought Advent calendars two weeks ago and just now I found them exactly where I thought I'd put them and laid them on the table for the kids to find in the morning. I'm not on top of everything by a long shot, but I'm not lying underneath it all, covered in dusty sheet music and limp strands of tinsel, either.

And that's something.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Batting Clean-Up

I can't think why I didn't mention that my kick-ass awesome day yesterday started with tea with Sarah after dropping the kids at school. Wait, yes I can; it's because I had been to the dentist, where I waited for eighty grueling years for the torment to end (I hate being tipped backwards and lying down. I hate people touching my face. I hate the horrible scritching sound. I hate all that more than I hate the pain, which is not all that bad. And my hygienist is very, very nice and understanding of dentist anxiety and makes it as un-horrible as possible, which is to say still very, very horrible) and then I went to get groceries and then I went home and felt hot and tired and dizzy and realized I hadn't really eaten anything all day because I was nervous about the dentist (although tea with Sarah was an absolutely splendid distraction) and then I went to get Eve and then we went to the mall and then we came home at seven and then I went to get Angus from volleyball at school and then I fed Angus and then I was very, very tired. But anyway, tea with Sarah was lovely and she agreed with me that having a pap smear is preferable to having one's teeth cleaned.

I also didn't talk about The Imperfectionists, which I said I would on Day 27. I wish I had taken better notes. I borrowed it from the library as an ebook and then it expired. I remember that I read a few pages and absolutely HATED it, but I can't remember why. Then I read a few more and liked it much more. It's a story cycle about journalists who work for a small, failing newspaper based in Italy; every chapter is from a different person's viewpoint. I can never decide if this is kind of a lazy, cop-out way of writing a novel, or an ingenious device, or if it's entirely dependent on the individual author, which is probably closer to the truth. Some people thought that many of the chapters didn't ring true, although some were very good. Others didn't like that there weren't more reappearances of characters once their story was gone, which made it seem like the book was marketed as a novel when it was really a book of extremely loosely linked short stories. There were certain moments that struck me in the heart, and overall I liked the book. I wish I could remember what caused the initial surge of dislike.

I've started reading The Shining again. I can't even remember when I first read it, but I think I was very young, and I missed a lot. I'm enjoying the reread very much. I'm planning to watch the movie again when I'm done, but I'm fairly convinced that my opinion of that won't change a whole lot.

Eve and I are watching Rose again next week. Stay tuned.

Zarah called today because she was laid up with a hip flexor injury and bored, which reminded me that I still haven't said anything about our week-end. It was fabulous. We had her friends over for a clothing swap, and drank wine and ate popcorn and walked around half-naked. We put on sparkly eyeliner and got dressed for a party with other women. One of them was talking to her girlfriend on the phone, and the girlfriend asked if she was going formal, to which the first replied "no, I'm wearing leopard print pants, red lipstick and glitter - I look like a ho", which led us to coin the phrase "Slutty Casual - it's the new Cocktail". We walked to the market and bought cashew corn chowder with cilantro cream for lunch, which I became briefly obsessed with recreating and then totally forgot about until just now. We went out again and walked downtown and shopped a bit and then stopped at a little store that had wild boar shank in a vegetable cassoulet, so we bought that too, because WILD BOAR and also, laziness. We talked and played music and talked and talked some more.

I'm still not ready to talk about the homosexuals being welcome in the Catholic Church thing, but I'm working on it.

Okay. I feel better. Husband is home from Tokyo. Tomorrow I shall be chair-bound and book-buried. Then we can deal with snowy driveways and busted fenders.

Happy week-end, all.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Gray Thursday?

The whole concept of Black Friday eludes me. I mean, Boxing Day makes a twisted, horrifying sort of sense, I guess - you just bought a bunch of stuff for other people, then you go buy a bunch of stuff for yourself, and it comes in...boxes...or something (I don't shop on Boxing Day either). But Black Friday? That sounds like a plague or something. Crap, it just occurred to me that if I Google 'Black Friday' I might discover some extremely good reason why Black Friday is called Black Friday.

I'm not doing it. Can't make me.

Anyway. There is no way in hell I will be crashing through anybody's door at seven o'clock tomorrow morning. BUT Eve needed a Christmas outfit and some pants that fit for the winter, and I needed some goat milk lotion from Crabtree and Evelyn (shut up, I totally needed it) and Angus was staying after school for the evening to referee the grade seven volleyball tournament. And it's Thursday, NOT Black Friday.

Yesterday Eve said "so you'll pick me up after school?" and I said "Yes". And she said "and we'll go straight to the mall?" and I said "Yes." And she said " my pajamas?" And I remembered that her class was helping with the JK class's Teddy Bear Sleepover (cutest thing EVER, they've been doing it since Angus was in JK - the kids bring their teddies to school, they lock them in the principal's office overnight and when the kids get to school the next morning the teddy bears have broken out of the office and made a big mess in the classroom; Angus's teddy bear was making paper airplanes - Eve's was half-buried in the bead bin) and told her I would bring her some clothes.

Turns out a lot of places at the mall already had stuff on sale, AND it wasn't full of crazed bargain-hunters. AND I hate the mall less when Eve is with me because she thinks everything is AWESOME and EPIC and she laughs at my jokes and people smile when they see her petting all the fuzzy sweaters.

We went in the pet store and squealed at the adorable sleeping kittens. An older couple came up to us and the woman said "excuse me. I have a question. I don't know you, but..." and I was briefly terrified that we were about to have a horribly awkward encounter, but they just wanted to know what size pants to buy for their granddaughter who was the same size and age as Eve.

At one point Eve said "so there's extra small and extra large. I'm trying to imagine what extra medium would look like".

At another point she said "OMG (yes, she said the letters) I thought that mannequin was a real person who was TOTALLY STYLING. No one could ever wear that outfit now because that mannequin rocked it so hard."

We found a drop-dead gorgeous Christmas outfit at H&M - my jaw literally dropped when she came out of the change room. We had dinner in the food court. Eve got complimented twice on her t-shirt. We held hands and made fun of silly clothes and skanky clothes.

I got my teeth cleaned this afternoon, which I hate more than almost anything in the world, and it was STILL a kick-ass awesome day.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Day 27

It snowed. I told Angus if we got 20 centimeters of snow I wouldn't be able to drive him to volleyball practice at seven. So he got up at six and shoveled the driveway. So, okay, I drove him to practice. Then he called me after second period and said there were only six kids in his class, and could he come home? So I said yes.

Meanwhile, the buses for Eve's school were cancelled. I used to send the kids when the bus was cancelled, and then at some point I decided that I wouldn't, not every time - not for any really good reason, there are a lot of walkers and the classes usually aren't that empty, but they never get REAL snow days like we got because of the weird funding formula that means the schools stay open even when the buses don't go, and I am a big fan of periodically playing hooky and not driving in heavy snow. But today she said "but would you MIND driving me?" Well no, because Angus already shoveled the driveway. And I have my parents' car, which has snow tires, while my Van of Shame is parked in their garage and they are soaking up the sun in more hospitable climes.

So I made soup. And worked some more on the Christmas calendars. And fed Angus every hour or so when he wandered up looking for food. And walked around in the snow a little. And decided I could make it to book club because the roads were okay now and I couldn't go last month because Matt was away then too, and Eve had African drumming so I was going to just bring her with me and go late, but then she got sick so I couldn't. I said "I really don't want to miss two months in a row" and Eve said "well, they wouldn't really care, would they?" and then her eyes got big and she said "do you think they'd kick you out?" And I said ha ha, no, of course not, and then I thought crap, they wouldn't kick me out, would they?

No, almost certain not. Then again, it's November, and I am twitchy and paranoid. It's better that I went.

This was the book. I'll talk about it some more tomorrow. If I remember.

I have to go to bed now.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

I always lost at hide and seek too

The prompt for today is "tell us about the last thing you hid".

When I got home from Zarah's, I had two shopping bags that had presents for the kids in them (mostly for Eve, because pretty much everything Angus is getting comes from Best Buy or Evoshield, not quaint little shops in downtown Barrie). I was exhausted from the drive, and I stuck them in a corner of the living room, intending to deal with them better the next day. Five days later, I realized that they had been sitting there, not particularly well closed, right next to where Eve practices the piano every day, and she hadn't looked in them. I realized this because she reminded me that they were there, and asked me if I could move them because she was having a progressively harder time resisting the temptation to investigate.

And that is what kind of kid I have.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Perfect Days are Overrated, Right?

So, coming off a week where I felt like absolute hell and couldn't fall asleep before two a.m., I was heading into a week of solo parenting without even MY parents for back-up (how's Costa Rica, Mom and Dad? said with only the faintest undertone of bitterness) and feeling a little nervous.

BUT, I took half an Ativan and a Benadryl and a few puffs off my inhaler last night, went to bed earlyish and slept hard with only a couple wake-ups from 11:30 to seven. Made lunches, got kids to school, went to the gym, got groceries, cleaned out a cupboard containing eleven boxes of stale crackers and made chicken stock and curried crock-pot beef and croissants (okay, the croissants were frozen in a box and I just let them rise and baked them, IT COUNTS, MOTHERFUCKERS.) Had dinner with the kids, watched The Simpsons with the kids, helped Eve practice piano, then worked on my Christmas calendars.

It was a good day. Compared to what I was expecting, it was a great day. It would have been a goddamned near perfect day if not for the small fact that, after dropping Eve off at school, I drove into a side street to wait for Pam to walk by after dropping Laura at school so we could head to the gym. I overshot where I wanted to be and backed up slightly.... into a huge, deeply-planted sign that I SWEAR wasn't there a minute before. And cracked off a piece of my bumper. And made a couple of kids goggle at me like I had descended from the sky in a cape and tights. And completely lost my composure.

Pam was nice. She offered to go drinking with me instead of to the gym. We decided that no bars were
probably open at eight-thirty a.m. and went to the gym anyway. She also said, "Look, if you think of it as a percentage based on all the times you back up and DON'T smash into a sign, the numbers are really in your favour". She also didn't judge me when I said I needed pudding.

My husband was nice. He texted "Shit happens. Don't worry about it." Of course, he can't see the damage from Tokyo. I should probably try to get it fixed before he gets home.

Eve was nice. She said "if it makes you feel any better, some kids at school were talking about some guy they saw driving around who drove into a sign and his WHOLE BUMPER fell off." Me: "...." Her: "OH MY GOD, WERE THEY TALKING ABOUT YOU?"

Last week-end when Angus was in Toronto for volleyball he left his prescription face-washing stuff behind at the hotel and we thought at first that the new refill wasn't going to go through our insurance and we'd have to pay full price for it. He was really upset and wanted to pay for it himself, and I said "look sweetie, we're a family. Sometimes Daddy and I do stupid crap that costs the family money too. It happens - there's no point beating yourself up about it." I guess I just modeled that extra well for him today.

Maybe I should stop dissing November. Also, if I hadn't been headed to the gym I would have just driven home with my unblemished vehicle, so I should OBVIOUSLY stop exercising.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Deep Sigh

Do I always doubt that I'm going to finish NaBloPoMo at this point? I could go back and look, but I don't feel like it. I probably always doubt that I'm going to see the end of November at this point. I probably always think I have cancer of the eyebrows or some similarly exotic wasting disease. I'd go to the doctor, but I can't see putting myself through a phone call and the drive downtown just to sit on an exam table and say "I feel weird".

Further to the last couple of posts and the comments: I didn't like The Shining (the movie). I'm quickly realizing that I'm in a very small minority on this count. I'm not sure if it's because I read the book first, although I strongly suspect that is the case. I agree that Jack Nicholson's performance was admirable, but I just didn't feel like it captured the spirit OR the letter of the book, and the things they changed seemed senseless and I found them enraging. I think maybe I should reread the book and then watch the movie and read Doctor Sleep and then report back. At the very least, maybe I can help Hannah decide whether or not it's safe for her to read Doctor Sleep.

On the bright side, my fabulous friend Pam brought me this tea when I was sick last week and now I'm trying to figure out if I can ship some to everyone I know. Even my tea-hating "lips that touch tea will never touch mine" daughter is currently having some with a hefty addition of milk and sugar. This also reminds me that I froze a chicken carcass a couple of days ago, and I can make chicken stock for the soup from paragraph one of this post this week.

One more week. Books and hot liquids. We can do it.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Books and Movies

I saw Catching Fire with my kids and Collette and her kids (our movie buddies) today. I liked it, maybe even a little more than the first movie, although I'm not sure it's possible to assess that fairly because the first movie had to set everything up and the second had the advantage of beginning in media res. Somebody on Facebook mentioned that Jennifer Lawrence's lack of affect was becoming grating, which I found in the first movie, but in this one I actually thought she got to demonstrate more of a range. I found Peeta more convincing as the male lead in this movie too.

Further to yesterday's post, and the comments; yes, what IS with Hollywood optioning Stephen King's work and then rendering it utterly ridiculous and nearly unrecognizable? But then I thought, is that fair - some of the movies have been good, after all. Some have been really good. Is it just that he's written so many books, or just that the bad movies have been so very bad? And THEN I thought, it's Saturday night and I have a really bad headache and I don't have the energy to examine this closely enough right now.

But I'll work on it.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Under the Dome by Stephen King

I started watching Under the Dome on tv when it came out and wasn't overly impressed. Somebody on Twitter (I think) said the book was better so I got it out of the library.
It's big. It's really, really big. In the acknowledgements, King thanks someone for trimming it down from the oversized monster it started out as. This 'trimming' took the book down to roughly a thousand pages, so I shudder to think what it started out as.

I finished it last night, with my husband sleeping beside me on one pillow instead of his customary two, because I had to borrow one to prop up the book.

Overall? I kind of liked it. It was better than Duma Key. Not as good as 11/22/63. It did some of the things King does well, sketching characters quickly but well, giving you short, sharp glimpses into their lives, painting an ensemble cast and then setting them loose to interact with each other. The group of kids was fun and endearing, reminiscent of the children in It, who cemented King in my mind as someone who writes children very well. There are some scenes that are extremely striking and moving. The plot as a thought experiment was interesting, and the end was logical enough, although it felt a little perfunctory. As an 'extreme logical conclusion' of small-town dynamics, it was credible. I felt sort of outraged on King's behalf by what had been done to some of the characters by the tv show.

Was it overwritten? My first impression is to say yes, absolutely, but by the end I also kind of felt like the experience of reading the book mirrored the experience of the people caught inside the dome - it's entirely possible that this was accidental, though. I don't feel like it was a waste of time reading it, although I'm not entirely sure it would have been a mistake to give it a miss either. I have higher hopes for Joyland and Doctor Sleep, both of which are on my pile. 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Taylor-Made to Make Me Feel Like a Chump

When I was at Zarah's last week-end (why have I not written about my fabulous Week-end at Zarah's one day this week instead of the endless, grating whinge-fest? Why, I don't know, it's a perfectly valid question) we enjoyed a wide variety of Songza playlists while cooking, eating, cleaning up the kitchen or getting ready to go out. Okay, it's probably slightly inaccurate to say we enjoyed a WIDE variety of playlists. We figured out in short order that if we were presented with any option containing the word "Mom", (Mom-friendly pop hits! Classic hits for Moms! Mom's hanging-out music!) we should just take it. Apparently, as far as Songza goes, we are eminently predictable and mainstream and Mommish.

We picked something with a Joni Mitchell theme at one point, and this song came on. Without thinking, I said "I love this song." Which I do. But I didn't know it was a James Taylor song. I heard it in my head sung by a sweet, high female voice - no idea whose. Later that night in bed, I tried for an hour to find that version on iTunes, fruitlessly, and now I have three or four versions of it and they're all nice, but none is exactly RIGHT, and it's vexatious.

Then I remembered this guy in university telling me that Taylor had written this song after some friends of his had bought his wife a plane ticket to see one of his concerts and the plane had crashed and she had DIED. I mean, Jesus, right? And, well, the lyrics: "Just yesterday morning they let me know you were gone/ Susanne, the plans they made put an end to you", and "Sweet dreams and flying machines in pieces on the ground". Plus, I was nineteen and highly credulous.

Thing is, it's a load of crap. A fairly widely-disseminated load of crap, because it's mentioned on Wikipedia. The actual story, that a friend had committed suicide but the news was initially kept from Taylor, is arguably equally as sad, if less Hollywood. The other night when I mentioned the first anecdote at a dinner party, my friend's husband immediately said "that has 'urban legend' written all over it". But like I said, young, unskeptical, and there was no internet back then. And the thing is, I don't even know if the guy who told it to me actually thought it was true or if it was a line (he did kind of segue into "oh, you look so sad, let me hug you after I remove these incredibly heavy and cumbersome pants").

I'd like to think I've become a bit more discerning in the intervening years. I hardly ever give money away to strangers with sob stories any more. Eve still gets me every April Fool's Day, though. I guess that's okay.

Now I'm going to see if there's a playlist for Moms Doing an Excel Assignment, or Music to Accompany Your Laptop Flying Through the Air.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Sorry, November: I love you not.

I just feel gross today. I feel bad, I look bad, the mother of all bad hair days is taking place on top of my head and there's something unspeakable going on in my right nostril. Matt and I went to watch Eve's African drumming class do their last-class performance. It was cool. Then we were supposed to mingle with the other parents, and while they all seemed nice, we didn't know anyone and it was as excruciatingly awkward as you might think that kind of thing would be when you're me.

So here, have some funny stuff that other people showed me.

I got this from Nicole and showed it to Eve when she got home from school. I was walking away and she was yelling "THE BUNNIES ARE SO CUTE". I said "just wait for the duckling" and she said "geez - spoiler much?"

I read this to the kids as Eve was eating before African drumming and Angus was skulking around the kitchen; the sandwich one actually made me cry and gasp for breath.

I often see Coffee With Jesus on Sherri's Facebook page and I LOVE it.

My whole body feels like hangnails. Everything is so Novemberish. Blah.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Kill the Wabbit (has nothing to do with this post, but it's on TV as I'm writing it)

This week has been - not bad, exactly, but wonky. After the book fair, which wasn't overly onerous but did deplete my introvert tank a little, and then having the kids home and extra kids here for project-completing and babysitting here on Friday, and then the dinner party on Saturday, I was feeling depleted. Then I felt more sick (when I'd been sick but feeling better) or sick again. Then the weather got blustery and my head went all thumpy. I'm out of sorts. I drop stuff. I bump into stuff. Solid glasses seem to leak when I try to drink out of them. This morning in the shower I punched myself in the face. I think maybe I was reaching for something and my face got in the way, but I'm not sure - I probably knew before I got punched in the face, but then I experienced some short-term memory loss. I'm feeling like I've provided a less-than-stellar showing in NaBloPoMo and wishing I'd done some more preparation, so I had a hook, or a theme, or at least some weightier, more insightful posts prepared, because just posting every day is a thing, but I'm not sure it's a particularly valuable thing.

But it's okay. I have shelter. My husband is in the country (until Saturday). I didn't have any urgent volunteer commitments. I have a few days before my next Computer Course assignment is due. I shopped for Maple Gingerbread Cake ingredients on Friday and got a few other things, so there was stuff in the fridge to make dinner.

Plus my family is abundant with the comfort and entertainment.

Eve came home after school and told me various things about her day, while sitting in my lap in the rocking chair - and by sitting in my lap I mean stretched across me with her feet hanging off the end of the ottoman, but it works for us. She said "If I ever have a boy I'm going to name him Shaun, but I'm going to spell it the S-E-A-N way so he can be a smartass and say "No, my name isn't SEEN, it's SHAUN." I said "I'd call you weird, but I punched myself in the face in the shower this morning, so I'm not sure I'm qualified." A few minutes later, she said to Angus "you're a smartass. Just like my kid." Angus looked confused, so I clarified "her imaginary son named Sean."

After supper, I was working on my assignment and Eve asked Matt to get her some ice cream. He got her some, then asked if I wanted some and got some for me and himself. Then he yelled downstairs to Angus to ask if he wanted some, and when Angus said no thanks he said "fine, then screw you and the horse you rode in on." He asked Eve if she wanted sprinkles. She said "if I say no, I suppose you're going to screw me and my horse too?"

All of which is to say, I've been reminded that ninety percent of parenting is just showing up. And in this house, ninety percent of hearing your kids say hilarious and fairly inappropriate things is just showing up (and hanging around the kitchen, apparently). And maybe, when you feel like you're hanging on to everything in your life by the ends of your fingernails (one of which gave you a tiny, humiliating cut on your chin when you punched your own self in the face in the shower one morning) ninety percent of blogging is just showing up. And now that I know I can show up every day for a month if I force myself to,then when I'm ready to do something with a little more substance, I won't have lost the habit.

That's what I'm going with. If you have a dissenting opinion, just stow it and eat your ice cream, will you?

Monday, November 18, 2013

Post called on account of someone beating on my mood with the ugly stick

Pro tip: rifling through the top bathroom drawer in search of that peppermint cream headache cure someone gave you or sold you when the headache in need of curing is already in full bloom and you can't really remember what kind or size or colour of container the stuff was in is unlikely to turn up anything more rewarding than some ancient and unforgivably frosty eyeshadow, some hand cream samples that have taken on the colour and texture of ear wax, and a fresh gripe to add to your surly little store, along with a couple more degrees of headache thanks to the frustration and the search angle.

I guess I'll just stick to drugs.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Why I'm Not a Food Blogger

Because when I finally decided at the last minute that I was making this for the dinner party, I should have assembled my fancy ingredients all at once to take a picture, but I didn't. Instead, I tried this, but Rose was sleeping on Eve and I was distracted and didn't manage to get a decent shot.

Then I realized that it probably would have been a better, more balanced shot if I had put the pecans, the ginger and the maple sugar all together, but by that time I had already chopped up the ginger and baked it in the cake. Also, you can't see the pedestal from this angle so it just looks like a tippy plate.

Then I was hemmed in at the table by other people who were drunk and pitiless and didn't care that my camera was unreachable in my purse and I have to post EVERY SINGLE DAY in November, so I didn't even get BAD pictures of Collette's amazing peanut soup with smoked chicken or Janet's fabulous Boston lettuce and feta and pomegranate salad with Cajun shrimp and Margot's marvellous Moroccan Salmon Cakes and Susanne's truly incomparable Beef Wellington which turned out perfectly even after Collette walked in and said "What are you making? Beef Wellington? That's REALLY HARD to make. It never goes well on that Gordon Ramsay show. I do NOT have a good feeling about this."

Anyway, here's the goddamned cake.

I also didn't get a shot of the maple sugar candies that Matt made because I was (incredibly stupidly) worried that after we cut the cake into ten pieces they would be too small for everyone, so he made them as garnishes for a (totally unnecessary) scoop of ice cream. I stuck one on top of the cake.

I'm a barely decent baker. I'm a truly horrible food blogger. I am unsurpassed as an eater. It's good to know your strengths, I always say.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Maple Gingerbread Layer Cake

With Salted Maple Caramel Sauce and Maple-Coated Pecans.

Pictures to follow.

(I know. Totally phoning it in. Sorry).

Friday, November 15, 2013

Something Before Midnight

I was supposed to babysit Rose today while Eve went to Marianna's. Eve got wind of this and refused to go to Marianna's until after Rose left. Which was good, because Rose completely prefers Eve.

First she was like "musical toys! Spoons! Cups! This place rocks!"



Then she woke up and she was all "WTF?"

Then she was all "My Mom's back.... LATER, LOSERS."

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Not-Quite-Surly Thursday

Have I mentioned how much I love everyone who reads and comments here, and how I would totally buy you all homes in the south of France if I could? Even though I still don't know if we should get a dog? Because I really really do, and I really really would. And we are completely maybe getting some kind of dog some day.

I picked Eve up at school dismissal to whip her over to piano lessons, then whip her back to the school so I could do my interview with her teacher and then we could work the book fair for the evening, which is always nuts because all the parents come in before or after their interviews.

I had my usual four-minute interview - Eve's enthusiastic, Eve's bright and interested and wonderful and when Eve and Marianna sit close together they talk too much. Check. I went back to wait with Eve for the librarian to arrive and unlock the library. She was six minutes late. There were people lined up and pounding on the library doors like they were high and the last cookies in the world were in there. The school secretary asked if I would be confident opening the book fair alone and I said yes because if I didn't I was afraid they would all pounce on Katy when she came in and chew her down to the bone.

Did I mention that the debit/credit machine wouldn't work inside the library, so every time someone wanted to pay with plastic we (mostly me because I don't get cold) had to go out of the library, around the tables where they were selling school t-shirts, and out the double glass doors into the cold November darkness? And then sometimes the machine would still fuck with me, like "take me outside. Now I'm thirsty. I'd like a pony. Is that five green bars you see? Oh, now it's two red ones. Maybe I'll connect to the wireless and maybe I won't, what are you gonna do about it?" An extremely classy operation, it was. One guy said he felt like he was going to get his books home and discover that there were a bunch of letters missing. At one point the principal said we should try the conference room, and one man yelled across the library to his son "I'll be right back, I'm just going into this room with this lady". So that was awesome.

Anyway. We made a buttload of money for the school. Eve was awesome, both for her math skills and her entertainment value. The kids were awesome. I always feel extremely useful at book fair time. Also, Eve just read the third paragraph of this post because she demanded approval rights if I was going to tell the world that she and Marianna talk too much, and she said "now I know why I want to be an author - I get those skills from you." So that doesn't suck either.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Thing is, Universe, I'm Easily Confused

On Saturday, Zarah and I were walking to the market in downtown Barrie. I was saying that I sort of thought Eve needed a dog, and I wasn't even necessarily opposed to the idea, but I'm such an inveterate waffler that I wasn't confident it would happen even if it was meant to. I HATE making big decisions. I do endless research, I go back and forth, I hope desperately that the final choice will be taken out of my hands one way or another - trust me, do NOT ever ask me to pick the restaurant unless you want to pass out from low blood sugar.

As we walked into the ATM vestibule, I was saying that I would love to have a dog around when Matt was away, and having to walk something a couple of times a day would probably be good for me AND Eve, and my dad loves dogs but can't have one because my mom hates them, so he'd like it too, but I couldn't get past the crap; I'm finally done cleaning up my kids' crap and something in me balks at the thought of taking in a family member that would NEVER learn to wipe its own ass. Then again, I told Eve that she could have a dog as soon as she was willing to pick up poop, so maybe that would be the turning point.

At this point, a very nice-looking older woman at the adjacent ATM burst out laughing and said she couldn't help overhearing and she had to share with me that she had had all the same reservations about getting a dog and now she couldn't imagine not having hers, that it sort of like how your own kids' crap was less revolting than other kids' crap, and she was the biggest suck for her dog ever.

We thanked her for her input, and as we left the bank, Zarah said "well, if you believe at all in signs from the universe, you HAVE to get a dog now."

Today as I was waiting for Eve to get home, I heard loud, furious barking from outside. My dad had driven Eve home, and he was following Eve to the house to get back some baking containers that my mom needed. And the dog from next door, who usually loves everyone, was in an attack pose looking at my dad, who dogs always love, and losing his ever-loving shit. It was as if my dad had said in dog language, I am here to steal all the bones and all the balls EVER. We all tried to calm the dog down, but it kept looking as if it wanted to eat my dad and bury him, then it grabbed a beer can someone had left on our lawn and took off. My dad shook his head and got in his car and drove away.

Someone tell the universe I don't do well with ambiguity.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Day 12

You know it's a bad NaBloPoMo post day when I resort to day-counting. I know it's a bad brain day when I have to stop and wonder how many days it's been and then I realize the Mo stands for month - IT'S THE DATE, STUPID.

Today I was getting dinner ready in the kitchen and Eve was asking me questions and her voice was coming from a place it doesn't usually come from - she wasn't in the bathroom or at the top of the stairs in the doorway to her room, which is where she's usually yelling from when I'm in the kitchen. I asked her where she was and she said "in here".

She was reading in the reclining chair in the living room. No one ever reads in that chair. No one even sits in that chair. Usually that chair holds Matt's briefcase and/or baseball and basketball crap. She was cuddled up in it with her book and a blanket.

It was like looking through a portal into an alternate dimension.

I listened to some of a program on CBC today about homosexuals and the Catholic Church. The priest on the show said "homosexuals are welcome in the Catholic Church."

Let's all just sit with that for a bit and maybe revisit the issue tomorrow.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Mondays on the Margins: Book Fair Edition

A couple of months ago, Katy the library tech at our school said the principal didn't really want us to have the Book Fair this year.

Uh........ say WHAT?


Eventually she said we could have the Book Fair. A couple of weeks ago Katy said nobody had volunteered for the Book Fair. The newsletter is online now, which is great. People were always complaining about getting more than one newsletter if they had more than one kid at the school - having it online wastes much less paper. The only problem is that almost nobody reads it when it's online, so nobody knew we NEEDED volunteers.

So I said no problem. I'll just come every day.

As it turns out, we got more volunteers, which thank god because I love the Book Fair and I COULD go all day every day and today flew by and the library is my happy place, BUT my introvert energy tank is empty and I fed my kids leftover Chinese food and no vegetables for supper and I am brain. dead.

I sold erasers that look like lunch boxes, makeup compacts, video game controllers, moustaches, guitars and licorice.

I sold long sticks with a hand on the end that were meant for teachers to use as pointers for whiteboards but were being bought by children for the sole purpose of whacking each other.

I was paid fourteen dollars and ninety-five cents for two books - in nickels and dimes.

I said "okay, I can hold the Super Ear for you, but only until four o'clock."

I said "please don't bite the eraser, it's not made of actual food" more than once.

I said "no, nothing is free" more than once.

I almost hugged a little boy who came in, closed his eyes and said rapturously, "I can smell the books!

I experienced total brain-lock while trying to perform a fairly simple subtraction. I think actual smoke came out of my ears. We usually have calculators. Tomorrow I'm bringing a calculator.

I bought Eve this book and this book and a few other books. Then I let her buy a poster with puppies on it. I guess I was weak from all the math.

Eve came in for the hour we were open after school. She's better at math than I am, so she was helpful. We were looking at books and she picked one that Katy said was really good but had a few inappropriate words, and Eve said "that's okay. I'm an inappropriate child." Katy said that was understandable considering who her mother was. Before we left, Eve did a killer version of Walking on Sunshine with one of the stick-hand-pointer things, which had Katy and me practically on the floor, although that was maybe partly fatigue. And math.

I'm exhausted. I'm going to bed. With a book. I think that's fair. Ha.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

I am spent

I'm home from Zarah's. I had a fabulous time. The last couple hours of the drive were miserable and I'm exhausted and half-blind and in bed at ten to eight after scrambling to find something appropriate for Eve to wear to sing at the Remembrance Day assembly tomorrow. I didn't schedule a post for today because I thought I would be able to write one tonight when I got home.

I was wrong.

But the Book Fair starts tomorrow. Stay tuned.....

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Qualms and Quandaries

My friend Collette and I took our kids (her three, my two) to see Ender’s Game on Tuesday evening. Collette and I and her two boys, both avid readers, had read the book and all placed it in our top ten list of all time. A few months ago, I was talking to Collette and since she had once said she would never pay money to see another Mel Gibson movie, I asked how she felt about paying money to see a movie based on a book by Orson Scott Card, to which she replied “huh?”. After I filled her in, she added something like, “did you have to tell me that, you bitch?”

It’s a funny thing, the artist verses the art thing. Works of the most heart-stopping beauty and magnificence can come from the most reprehensible of human beings. I find it mystifying that writing that to me has always seemed suffused with the utmost kindness and generosity of spirit, comes from an intelligence that believes wholeheartedly that homosexuality is the gravest of sins.

Another friend consoled us with the fact that Card had made all his money off the movie up front, and that ticket sales wouldn’t put anything extra into his pocket. He also said that he has no difficulty divorcing the art from the artist, so he would have experienced no moral dilemma either way.

I’m honestly not entirely sure where I stand on the matter (I’m sure that comes as a great shock to everyone). If I buy a book by Orson Scott Card, I’m endorsing his writing, not his views on sexuality, right? Should I boycott every author who holds an opinion I find objectionable? Every movie starring an actor who’s gotten drunk and spouted racist slurs? I did publicly state that I would never eat at Chick fil a – by the preceding logic shouldn’t I be saying that if the chicken was good enough I would eat it even though the place was owned by bigots?

On the whole, I would say it does make a difference, however unquantifiable. I can’t say I won’t ever buy a book by Orson Scott Card again. I don’t want to refuse to read or see anything made by people I disagree with, because that furthers no one’s growth. I guess I need to think about this some more.

As for the movie, it wasn’t blow-your-mind wonderful, but it wasn’t as big a disappointment as it could have been. Some of the exposition was pretty ham-handed, which was partly regrettable and partly understandable, given the time constraints. The two boys who read the book and the boy and two girls who hadn’t all said they really liked it. Harrison Ford was good, Asa Butterfield was really good, and Angus and Eve and I couldn’t get over the fact that Bonzo Madrid was played by Rico from Hannah Montana