Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Merrie Month of January part of my whole "preserving in my memory what it is like to live in Canada" thing I thought I might kind of look back at each month and see what it was like, how things compare, etc.
I actually started the month in Texas - which was terrific. New Years is so much better with friends than all alone. I can attest to both states and infinitely prefer to party late into the night with friends - although I will always have a special place in my heart for my first married New Years which was spent just the two of us. But, late late in the night on the 3rd of January, we wheeled our bags out of Pearson International Airport and made our way home. And thusly into...

January in Canada
First and foremost (since it seems to be what everyone asks about): the weather. Yes, there is snow. Not as much of it as I'd hoped...I mean, if you've gotta be cold and have snow, why not do so to an extreeeeeme? But no, in Toronto the snow comes and goes...although it never completely leaves. But, much less fun than the snow are the short days. The sun is not really up when I arrive at work at 9AM in the morning and it has already begun its rapid descent when I leave at 5PM. Being a sun-loving gal, I'm really missing it! I mean...take this picture:

funny pictures

The tail is the sun...and I am that kitty. I miss my sunshine!

I also have to say...the tall, tall buildings of Toronto make for great wind tunnels. It can get so incredibly windy here! Which, of course, adds onto the cold a great, great deal. But, enough about the weather. Who really talks about the weather anyways?

Church. Church is great! We really, really like our church and January has been a good month for things! While we had to stop going to our Wednesday night small group due to Scott having a Wednesday night class, we have kept in touch with the members and will hopefully have a fun time celebrating the Super Bowl this Sunday. We have a new small group on Friday nights now, led by the pastor of our church - which is really, really great.

Temping. I'm still temping. It is still a mixed bag - usually along the lines of "the work itself is good-ish, the pay is relatively good and I like the flexibility but dang...I'm getting tired of being a nomadic worker!"

Settlers of Catan is not a "Toronto" thing - but it is our "new thing" and it is very good. TV in January suffers from the Writer's Strike. I am hopeful that Murdoch Mysteries will remain as fun as it has been (and I found out that it replays on Saturday afternoons, so I don't always have to stay up super late to watch it.)

That's the haps this January. February rolls around tomorrow and I couldn't be gladder - why? Because I have a TTC month pass and that means FREEEDOM!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Further Up & Further In!

I didn't like the video. I didn't have sound when I put it up and my rememberings of the video were a whole lot funnier than the actuality. I replace it with this picture of a kitty...which is betterer.

funny pictures

I promise, I promise...the video above is a funny little clip boosted off of YouTube about the Chronicles of Narnia. My "language filter" (AKA Scott) has informed me that, while the newspaper headlines may contain language, the lyrics are relatively clean. This is probably due to the fact that this is a rip-off of a SNL sketch...which since it airs on broadcast TV, is usually free of profanity and the truly obscene. Anyways...this is my whimsical (whimsical - adjective - determined by chance or impulse or whim rather than by necessity or reason) manner of introducing one of my favorite things to muse about...Real Narnia.

SIDENOTE: The original idea behind this blog was a place to put whatever I felt, thought or even just felt like thinking. I have to admit...I hadn't thought about the idea of my little sister...

(who, not yet having been to University, is sensitive about language the same way I was before I went to University. If she remains sensitive about language, etc. after 4 years in a Theatre or English department...well...I'll be surprised. She will, of course, vehemently deny any possibility that she might change this innate characteristic of hers. That would mean change. And we all know how she feels about change. But, I remain adament that, knowing her as I do, she will change and this will be one of the things that may change about her. Whether at the end we will have the same attitude about these things is another matter entirely. I shall wait and see.)

Anyways, I didn't think about the idea of my little sister reading these uncensored thoughts of mine. Hence, as you well may guess, the warnings. I continue to post whatever I feel like...but if the content is going to be above PG, I try to let you know. I don't feel this is too much of a compromise. Now, back to your previously scheduled musings, already in progress.

I love the entirety of the Chronicles of Narnia. CS Lewis was a great man, who wrote on many, many different levels. (Read "Weight of Glory" if you haven't, BTW. It will Rock Your Socks Off...and then your feet will be cold, but your heart warmed to its cockles.*) Each book is special for a different reason - but it is the Magician's Nephew and the Last Battle that I find most refreshing, most invigorating. These are the two books that end at the beginning. The Magician's Nephew is the creation of Narnia...Last Battle is the end of Narnia and the revealing of Real Narnia... Never, in my life, has the concept of a "new heaven and a new earth" been so clear and so beautiful to me.

*See for thoughts on the origins of the phrase "Warms the cockles of my heart."

It is the last chapter of the Last Battle. We have rescued the prince, shown the non-believers the True Aslan and closed the door. It is time for Further Up & Further In!

1 Corinthians 13:12 - For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.

This idea, that the world will fall away and we will see with new eyes a new world is so amazing. We live so little of life, we see so little of what God has created for us. My pastor was recently talking about one of the reasons we won't get bored when we live forever. Because really, forever is a long time...and we get bored relatively quickly. But...imagine, for instance, that you want to go to Switzerland. You have, quite literally, all the time in the world. So walk there. Take 10,000 years to do it. And observe every tree, every mountain, every created thing on the way. Why do we get bored? Time is short and we always have "more interesting" or "more important" things to do. When time is no longer short, when time longer... This is what CS Lewis was getting at...with "Further up and further in!" The new heaven and new earth that God creates for us will indeed be larger the further you explore it! How amazing! And you know what...this is just what we can see through the mirror.

Imagine...imagine what it will be like when we're really, truly there. Face to face.

I used to think that God would somehow change my nature when I got to heaven. That spending all my time singing and casting down my crowns wouldn't get boring...because I would be with God and he would just make it not boring. But I don't think so anymore. I enjoy singing...I'd love to learn to sing like my BFF Tina. Imagine spending 100 years just learning to sing...just tuning up! The beauty, the majesty, the fun! I enjoy many things...and I really enjoy imagining many more things. I can't wait for the day when anything is not only possible, but likely. I can't wait to go on my first world tour...and my thousand and first!

PostScript: My dad recently mentioned that blogging & responding to blogging is very "stream of consciousness"...looking back at this post...I agree.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

An Ode to the Toronto Public Library System...

Okay, okay, so I don't know how to write an ode. IS there a form for ode writing? Probably. But I didn't learn ode-writing in my particular BA in English...would have been a great substitute for the stupid Linguistics class that LIED to me with its name. (I am not bitter, I am not bitter, I am not bitter. Riiiiiight.) Anyways...the wonder that is the Toronto Public Library System. Perhaps a list is simplest. If not esthetically pleasing, it is, at least, concise.

Things that are great about the Toronto Public Library System:
1) The Merrill Science Fiction & Fantasy Collection.
This is a permanent collection of just about any and every Sci-Fi or Fantasy book, manga, comic, periodical, etc. You CANNOT check the books out. Which means, of course, that the book you want to read is almost always avaliable. You just need to have the time to sit in their comfy chairs and read the book there.

2) The Toronto Public Library System is 1 (one) library with many branches. This means that books are purchased as a gigantic library...not as many small libraries that then share books. This means many, many more books than you'd ever find in just one library (except maybe the Bodleian).

3) They combine this 1 (one) library with many branches with a fairly efficient movement of books from one library to another. And the multple branches thing WORKS - it is not confusing like some library systems I might name. *cough* Dallaspubliclibrary *cough*

4) The librarians are nice. All of them. And they know how to bend rules for people who need rule bending. This reminds me of my wonderful Abilene Public Library home...only this is a system-wide librarian phenomenon.

5) They have LOTS of books. I mean, LOTS.

So....I <3 the Toronto Public Library. It shall be considered Thing #2 I like about living in Toronto.

Benefits of riding the subway...Tuesdays are BEST!

Riding the subway is nice. The TTC is a very good public transit system. Of course, everyone complains about it, but everyone uses it too! It is (as I have mentioned before) my favorite part of living in Toronto - the Not Driving Part!

Of course, there is still much of a morning and after-work clog-up. But, my current temp job works very nicely for that. As I have to leave a little earlier than most people (I leave at 8AM to be at work by 9AM...don't ya love Canada?!) I usually get a seat on the subway (although not usually on the bus for some reason) which means I can sit down, drink my coffee and read my book. What a lovely way to start my day! Much better than sitting in traffic for 45 minutes, no?

But Tuesdays...on Tuesdays I am extra happy. Why are Tuesdays best? Because on Tuesdays, Scott has a 9AM class. Which means that we leave the house at the same time and ride together! Today I got to read and lean against my hubby. It's that quality "just being together" time that's so nice and wonderful. There's nothing quite like it.

Another reason the subway is can go anywhere for one cheap price. And, if you get a monthly pass, you can go anywhere as much as you want! It's like a ticket to the city! I'm glad Scott & I are getting monthly passes this next month - it didn't make sense this month or in December as we weren't here long enough. But when we get them, it's like freedom! We are out and about much, much more - which is such a good thing.

Speaking of "go anywhere, do anything..." here is a picture of one such crazy thing. Scott...on the subway...with parts of our bed from Ikea!

Kickin' down doors

I found out today, kind of off-handed-ly, that another of my old acquiantances & schoolmates from college has joined the army. He's in boot camp right now and having a hard time of it. ("Bah!" I say to my super-buff cousin who says anyone can get through boot camp...I am now more certain than ever that it would make a puddle out of me! Not everyone is Ranger Seth.)

I started out, as many of us did if we will admit it, all for our going to Iraq. Remembering where you were when you first heard about 9/11 is my generations version of when JFK was shot. And, as may or may not have been gather-able from my previous post, I am not anti-Iraq-war. I am however, pro-"end the war ASAP" with a "war is over" definition that differs from the apparent definition held by our current administration. I don't know if there will ever be peace in the Middle East...but what I do feel is that we are not the right peacekeepers, no matter how well meaning we may be.

That said, I believe that when a man or woman joins our military, we must support them. Disagree with the orders they are given if you want, but always, always respect the people who put their lives on the line in service to our country. So, thanks, Jason, for going to boot camp. You're in my prayers. And thanks, Seth, because I love you and you know it...and you kick down the doors of evildoers.

PS - I just thought I'd lost this post due to stupid Internet Explorer problems. Fortuitously for me, Blogspot is on top of these things and it was there, saved in my posts and ready for me to open up and post again. Huzzah Blogspot!

I Can Has Nudder Story?

I have been reading LolCats for quite sometime. It has infused me with a desire for a kitty of my own. And, of course, said kitty would be quite literate.

funny pictures
moar funny pictures

Monday, January 28, 2008

The Calendary Archive of Bloggyness

Well, I've seen other people who have calendars on their blogs...and I've been green with jealousy. Not green enough to go down to New York and audition for a part as Elphaba...but a nice lightish tinge. And now...I envy no more! Behold, in all it's glory, my calendar of archive-d bloggyness! Huzzah!

Monuments of War & Peace

"And so what we have learned applies to our lives today...God has a lot to say in his book! You see we know that God's Word is for everyone, now that our song is done we'll take a look." -- VeggieTales

This week I have seen two very, very different documentaries on the Canadian version of the History Channel. (I would watch this channel a LOT more if it actually WAS the History Channel. Unfortunately, too often this show fills in with episodes of JAG or CSI...not sure why.) The first was a highly over-the-top show about the making/purpose of Stonehenge. The second was part of a series on Auschwitz & the Nazi "final decision."

Now, at first, you might think that all these two share is a place on the History Television line-up and me watching them. But I find the juxtaposition, and my interest in the two topics, very interesting.

I'm interested in Stonehenge for a number of reasons. It is in England. It is connected with "ancient tymes" and some of the science fiction/fantasy books I really enjoy reading feature Stonehenge or an idea based off of Stonehenge. To me, it represents mystery and ancient-ness. I wonder at why it was built and what it might have represented through the ages. It meant different things to different peoples - it has been used for gory sacrifice and beautiful ritual. The tall, monoliths are iconic, instantly recognizable. They evoke beauty and remind us of our history and the fragility of a culture.

In contrast, there is no doubt as to why Auschwitz was built or what it represents. It is a horror, a reminder of the depths of depravity, insanity, and evil that humanity is capable of. It reminds us all of what happens when you allow ignorance to be an excuse, when you turn the other way when your brother or sister is in trouble. It is a stark picture, horrific and accusing in its emptiness, but that is the only way we are able to stand it. I have never had a better reason to appreciate a grainy black and white photo over a color picture - if we could see the pictures of Auschwitz in color it would be too terrible. Somehow, somehow, the black and white pictures stare out at me, they call to me with the dignity of the dead and the soft, fragile voices of the few who survive.

I am fascinated with both of these places. They are so different, and yet - so similar. I have never been to Auschwitz, although I desire to make my apologies to the dead there for my living. I have only driven past Stonehenge, visitors are only allowed to walk on it's grounds one day a year - the summer solstice. But I can imagine what it would be like to walk through those stones. The two experiences play side by side in my head, somehow both opposite and the same.

Stonehenge...the grass is so green. My feet so connected to the earth. No building has ever stood here, only these stones, only ancient posts. But this ground has always been precious to men.

Auschwitz...each blade of grass here is precious. You almost feel it was bought with great price. I do not think I can ever be connected here, I exist as a separate entity in this place and it is only because of that separation that I continue forward.

Stonehenge...the stones are so large, so tall. They tower over me, the shadow of them cools the earth and the earth at their feet smells rich and clean.

Auschwitz...the buildings so straight, so narrow. Somehow, I imagine there is a smell to this area even still. The smell of death, the smell of despair, the smell of lost hope. I clutch almost convulsively to my Corrie Ten Boom book...which I may or may not actually have with me. It is there, though, in my mind, and I cling to the idea that a few people, even just one or two, existed in hope here. That even in this terrible place God worked wonders and showed His grace. I do not cling to a book, but lie back and look upwards. The grass holds me like my husband when he is half asleep in the morning as I leave for work...with a fondness that is not really awake but comforting nonetheless. When I stand and brush the dirt from my pants, I am leaving a place of comfort, but I am going onward, exploring something that has nothing to do with me and everything to do with me. It is not at all a part of reality, it is a dreamlike place, I think of all the wonders this world hides, all the wonders of our imagination. the imagination of evil men took the lives of women, children, innocents. But here also the imagination of those women, those children, kept hope alive. For here they could always say..."tomorrow, tomorrow help might come." And they could always say "tomorrow, tomorrow, we might leave this place." But I remember, the dust in my shoes, the breath in my lungs, that not everyone left here. Some are still here...the dust in my shoes, the breath in my lungs.

The two are nothing alike. One is death, the other is life. But both call us to life.

Stonehenge calls us to life with it's broken stones and the green grass, reminding us of the longevity of our existence as a species, and at the same time, our fragility. In the same way a cathedral calls us to look up to God & the heavens, Stonehenge calls us to look up to God and dance for His pleasure on the green grass and between the great stones.

Auschwitz calls us to life with our own brokenness. It is the sting of a good hard spanking, the rebuke of a mother who says "I am so disappointed in you." But it is God who is talking here. God who says "My people! my beloved!" with tears in His voice. As we walk on these graves, as we breath in this air we are called to have life and to have it abundantly. To recognize evil and be bold enough to call it evil and to do something about it. But, most of all, we are called to avoid past mistakes, to learn from history the lessons it has to give and to pay attention to our surroundings.

You may have wondered at the non sequiter of my quote from VeggieTales at the beginning of this entry. I kind of put it up there and then ignored it. Here's the deal. There are lessons to be learned every day. And whether we will learn them from a documentary on Stonehenge or a documentary on Auschwitz or not at all is entirely up to us. But learn them we must. So, I encourage you, be fascinated with life. Examine the choices of men. And learn to make your own choices. Someday we too will have monuments. What will they be?

PostScript: I am fully aware that Stonehenge is not necessarily a peaceful monument. I give it as an example of something that inspires me and try to give the reasons why. Choose your own monument of peace if you wish, but don't forget the monuments of war. The ones from 1942...and the ones we are encountering and fighting right now in the Middle East.

An interesting experience on the Subway...and other things as well.

Well, this weekend was nice and relaxing. I don't think I even touched the computer on Sunday until after 10pm! It's not because, as has happened with some positions, work has made me sick of the computer. (Although, on another note entirely, I think that having a Mac in a PC world has made the "work" computers and the "home" computer very different in a positive way.) Instead, I just felt so relaxed yesterday...relaxed without being bored, which is very difficult to achieve. It was the combination of a hubby who was at a low-stress point with school (He managed to do most of his schoolwork on Saturday while I was out getting groceries.), having a really excellent book to read whenever I felt like it and a feeling of "less guilt" about not doing dishes or chores because I was just a little under the weather.

Today, I thought I was feeling better. But I wore the wrong clothes. It was a unique experience and one I'd really prefer not to repeat. I wore layers of clothes, each of which on its own is not confining, but together the circulation to my limbs is just slightly slowed - especially when I have to put my arms at awkward angles to reach the bar on the subway. I ended up feeling rather faint...what with the lack of good air in the subway car, the low circulation and the crowds. I actually had to crouch down in and amongst was really, really odd and awkward. But I know if I hadn't, I would have fainted. Thankfully, soon thereafter someone got off the subway from a seat and a kind man behind me made sure I got to sit down. It was an interesting experience, certainly, but not one I care to repeat...ever. I haven't "almost blacked out" in a long time - but I now understand a little better why it is very important to know how to wear a corset and not just stumble into the thing blindly. Otherwise, going from a size 14 to a size 8 on the Corset Plan is decidedly inadviseable. Not that I was wearing a corset...but I associate fainting and corsets.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Murder with Murdoch!

Television has become a distinct part of my life. It is a nice, familiar thing. No replacement for friends and good times - but, really, who can enjoy friends on a weeknight without staying out way past any time that is sensible? Well...I could, when I was in college. But nowadays I am a working gal, with working gal hours to keep. So I enjoy television on the weekdays and do my best to make plans with friends for the weekends. (For instance, this weekend I get to play Catan! Hoorah!)

My TV week goes something like this:
Monday - Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles is on.
Tuesday - NCIS is my happy place...
Wednesday - I geek out with Criminal Minds
Thursday - Ugly Betty! Occasionally new episodes of CSI!
Friday - if I'm sick or can't make Grace Gathering for some reason, Numb3rs is a good show.
Saturday - in the morning, I get up before Scott & indulge in Trading Spaces and other TLC & HGTV fun. Not that I don't indulge throughout the week...but this is my special time.

Now, of course, this list is a highlight reel. I make dinner (especially the chopping of vegetables & the cleaning of dishes) while watching Wheel of Fortune & Jeopardy from 7-8. This is a ritual. I really should join the Wheel Watchers club - because then it might, really slimly might, become a profitable ritual.

But, as the title of this post suggests...there is a new player who is really making my Thursday nights the best TV night of the week. This newbie is not only a Canadian show (take THAT Hollywood...I shall get creative writing despite the writer's strike!) it is also set in Toronto. But...wait for it, wait for is not merely set in Toronto, it is a murder mystery show set in Toronto in 1895!

The first episode (watched with total enjoyment last night) featured prominently Nikola Tesla & several of his inventions. The murder was done via electricity and it was so fun to see the scientists & doctors doing the good ol' CSI explain with paper & pencil...tracing the path the current went through the body. Plus, there is the "cute but awkward" sargeant who I sincerely hope is a recurring character. At one point, he breaks the ice by asking his lady interest if he can court her dog (after clearly being rebuffed in his original intent to visit the lady herself). It is so sweet...

The authors/producers/whoever admit up front that they have taken many liberties with the exact train of history. (i.e. although Mr. Tesla may have invented the wireless transmitter, he probably did not have help from Detective Murdoch of the Toronto constabulary). However, historical inaccuracies do not prevent me from geeking out over this fun twist on the scientific mystery solving show.

The fact that it is set in Toronto is cool (I keep going "oh Scott...I think we walked by that house once!"), the fact that it is set in 1895 is also cool (and if anyone can tell me the likelyhood or truth behind a woman doctor in 1895, I'd be greatly appreciative), but as always, the terrific thing is the characters. It is great fun to watch Detective Murdoch geeking out over the "latest scientific breakthroughs" like Alternating Current power. It is terrific to see historical figures like Tesla portrayed with character & wit. (I kinda think Tesla is going to be a recurring character!) It is also great fun to watch the aforementioned "cute while awkward" sargeant be sweet & late 19th century to his animal rights activist lady-love.

All in all, Murdoch Mysteries is indeed fun. A much, much better first episode than my previous attempt at watching a Canadian crime drama (The Border. Could have been cool, but the characters were too "realistic" without being realistically quirky. The people who make The Border need to watch NCIS and take notes.) The only thing it has going against it at the moment is it's time slot - with a 10 o'clock start time, I shall be staying up later on Thursday nights than I usually prefer.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Oh...wilderness is difficult to access you say?

O rly? Ya rly!

So, earlier this year I read an article about St. John's island. It is, apparently, the best place to see whales. I mean, whales love it here and you can too....if you want to go JUST here. See...I wanted it all. I didn't just want to fly in to St. John's, see whales & fly back. Oh no. I was determined to fly in to St. John's, take the ferry over to Nova Scotia, and from there take a train back by way of Quebec City.

But it can't be done! The planes land in one place. The ferry leaves from another! No problem, take a bus across the island! Beautiful scenery, fun times! Just add $100 per person & 9 hours in the bus. Okay, okay, I'm game...I'm betting traveling across Newfoundland would be terrific. But wait kids, there's more! Once you take the ferry across (very reasonable at $28 per person) then you're in North Sydney! No worries...just take the train from North Sydney. What? No train? Where is the closest train? Truro? Where the heck is Truro?! we're taking a bus to Truro and from Truro, a train to Quebec City and then a train to Toronto from QC. sum it all up....we're going in the summer...when the whales come down the St. Lawrence river almost to Quebec City. Which is 1 train ride away. With a nice 2 hour stopover in Montreal. Should be fun, no?!

And that, my friends, is the plan. Until I find something cooler.

Step One...figure out what the heck is going on!

As my friend Ryan and I used to say "knowing is half the battle, figuring it out is about 50%...which leaves a whole 17% for doing!" (I know, I know...but the bad math was the whole POINT!) Anywho, today I am on step one of figuring out taxes for the Texan who is temporarily living & working in Canada. (i.e. Me!) And I really, truly do believe that figuring out what is going on here is going to be by far the hardest part. After that, all I have to do is get the right forms and fill them out. And, after many, many sessions of college & graduate school applications, I am quite the expert form-filler-outer.

So, I have explored the websites...both Canadian & US Federal (thank goodness Texas doesn't have STATE taxes!) ...and now I have e-mailed the helping people. Hopefully I shall hear back from my chosen advisors soon and I can move on to the next phase. Sometime soon (the next gap day between jobs, probably) I'll go by my bank, HSBC, and play the "clueless but cute foreign girl" card to get some free advice on the Canadian side of things.

Changing as an author

Trying to write a novel is much, much harder than just writing a story. It's interesting to me - I'm working on my current story in a much different manner than any other I've ever written. Instead of leaping in and writing, writing, writing 'til I hit a block, I'm working from the back story. I don't even know what my main character's quirks are yet and I certainly haven't found her voice yet. Last year, with my beloved Friday Night Writes group meeting every other weekend, I would never have written this way - because it's impossible to get feedback if you don't write anything new at all! And, while I write new stuff's not actually new's more...notes. Long, long notes.

But at the same time, I firmly believe that I have FNW to thank for this new style. I know that it is the intricate, introspective and intense comments of each and every member that made me realize how much I really need everything I'm doing here. So thanks yous guys...and someday, maybe, I'll actually start this story in some sort of coherent form. I think I get closer each week.

Monday, January 21, 2008

You don't hate fun, do you? Why do you hate fun?

And yes, I am aware that we are currently in the month of January. But I'm not letting that stop me from working on my novel and neither should you!

I do not want this to turn into a blog about TV

I really, really don't! But, I have to say it is good to live in Canada during the writer's strike. CTV, that's Canadian TeleVision, is right now showing Terminator: the Sarah Connor Chronicles. Starring Summer Glau (River from Firefly) as a beautiful machine who gets hit by cars a lot. And takes high school biology. Sample dialogue:
Mom: "I'm going to have dinner with him."
Son: "What, you mean like a date?"
Mom: "No, not a date."
Beautiful Robot: "Are you going to kill him?"

Coming up soon is a show that I can't remember the name of but just saw a commercial for - about a guy who is a singing prophet or some such thing. Sounds worth continuing to watch the commercials for, no?

Don't get me wrong - CTV shows a lot of American shows...but it also shows some interesting Canadian ones. Now, if only I could get BBC Canada. Ah well, at least I have HGTV Canada.

Plus - more William Shatner in our commercials.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Happiness is Hugh Laurie singing...

Watch Hugh Laurie sing about his love life.
Repeat as necessary.

Quantity is Job #1

I have realized that of late the quality of my prose is rather inconsistent. At times, I look back at my writing and say "I hath wrought well." and, at other times, a more appropriate response seems to be "Hyurh?!" I find that I must take responsibility for this lack of quality. However, I hope that by sheer number of posts, I shall be able to help you to ignore this bad form.

But, I hear you protest, you claim to be a writer. Why would I post anything that lacks in poetry, grace, eloquence..? This is a fair question and deserves a fair answer. And so to you I say -


Saturday, January 19, 2008

Pride & Prejudice starring Lawrence Olivier

This black & white film was just terrific! I truly enjoyed Olivier as the impeccable Mr. Darcy. I think, though, the best feature and most distinctive of this film was that now I really want to re-read the book. The light hearted wit and tongue in cheek humor is so wonderful.

The Sounds of Canadian Television

" tastes awful, and it works." -- This is from a cough syrup commercial. Which does a fantastic job of being distinctive...and a not so terrific job of making me want to buy the cough syrup. I mean, when I have a bad enough cough to need syrup, I'm not wanting to eat something that tastes bad! It brings to mind the Evil Orphanage Woman who comes down the aisle of miserable little cots to give the sick little girl an oily green liquid.

"Make it right." -- This is the catchphrase of Mike Holmes - the most awesome contractor in Canada. His show, "Holmes on Homes" attracted me at first because of his name. I thought "Holmes, like Sherlock?" (In a complete and total side note, we live down the street from Dr. I.B. Sherlock...a dentist.) And, while Mike Holmes shares a dedication to perfection with his fictional British relative, he is otherwise nothing like. I'm not sure Scott is glad that I found this show and the other really crazy awesome Canadian home shows, he's not so fond of them. But they ARE giving me loads of ideas for our future home improvement plans.

"Does it bother you that you kill insects for a living?" is a Grissom quote from CSI. CSI is often on in our living room - both because there is so much of it on Canadian television and because I enjoy the wit of Grissom.

"Good things grow in Ontario!" This is an Ontario farmer over a supermarket loudspeaker in a terrific commercial. It is terrific for its badness...and it is terrific for its unabashed, complete and total Canadian-ness.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Movin' Right Along...

There is something about the music of an era. Take Frank Sinatra, for instance. I know, I know, Frank Sinatra is not in and of himself and era. So take "big band" music. Immediately upon hearing "L.O.V.E." I drift back to a time before I ever existed. Where women floated on dance floors in gauzy dresses with fluffy haircuts and men actually owned coats with tails. Where people gathered around a radio to listen to soft voices together. And then tuned in to Dick Tracy and Rick Diamond. I like this era...when the movies were in black and white and they knew how to use lighting.

What music will typify our current "era"? Gee wiz, I hope it's not rap.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

What have you been reading lately?

Well...if YOUR life could use improving are a few of the good books I've been reading in the last little bit. I've discovered some terrific Canadian authors...and some others that simply appear to be better known in Canada...and then a few that are just awesome finds thanks to the Bakka Pheonix bookstore.

the "Blending" series by Sharon Green
I truly enjoy this series about the struggles of a group of individuals to uncover deep mechanations of the nobles and stay alive in the process...all while learning how to overcome their personal obstacles and use their high talent magic - both alone and as a "Blending."

The first two books (Convergence & Competitions) were rather impressive in that they managed to simultaneously have solid, logical endings and be quite obviously more "Parts I & II" than books 1 & 2 of a series. The third one, however, ends in a cliff hanger. I highly advise having book 4 available immediately for continuation. Warning: Not recommended for younger readers due to sexual content.

The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher
A highly witty combination of radio drama noir, wizardry & mystery. I'm on book 2 at the moment... Both Scott & I have laughed out loud during our readings...although I think many things that evoke a laugh from Scott are getting an "amused throat chuckle" from me. Rather than give a redundant content warning, I shall remind you once again...this is noir. No, really.

Poison Study & Magic Study by Marie Snyder
These two were a discovery made last summer. Fun, witty, and at times dark and very personal feeling - Marie Snyder draws me in with her Strong Female Protagonist and then makes me laugh with her quirky know-it-all side characters. Not recommended for younger readers due to slight sexual content.

The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
This one has been sitting on my shelf almost long enough for a re-read...and it tempts me ever so much. Our first Bakka-Pheonix find, this is the ultimate caper novel...about a theif who likes to steal for the sake of stealing...and sits on his gold wondering what on earth he will do with it all...except, of course, go steal more of it in more extravagant ways. And then things start to fall apart...and that's where the novel gets REALLY good. Sequel is out in trade paperback...and on my "to buy" list as soon as I have the money. Scott's language filter is at a higher setting than mine - he advises me that this book contains the "f-word."

Deerskin by Robin McKinley
Are you prepared for the roller coaster ride that is Robin McKinley's retelling of this old tale? She takes you deep inside this dark and sinister story...which I re-read on a fairly regular basis for the sheer catharsis of the thing. And then, you find yourself going "awww" at the cuteness of sharp little puppy teeth! Deerskin is Robin McKinley at her best. WARNING: This book takes you through the reality, although not the actual description of a very disturbing rape. I don't recommend it for the faint of heart...but if you can get through it, the catharsis and the terrificness is worth it.

Gaudy Night by Dorothy Sayers
When my grandmother saw me reading this over Christmas, she remarked that it was the best of Dorothy Sayer's Harriet Vane books. And I'm not sure if it's the terrific setting of a fictional Oxford women's college or the fantastic character arc that Harriet (one of the Original Strong Female Protagonists of mystery fiction) goes through...but I have to admit, she's right. But then, she always is.

The Bone Garden by Tess Garritson
I haven't been so immersed and intrigued with a historical mystery since Laurie King's Locked Rooms (one of my favorites). This novel starts in the present and the swoops back to spend most of its time in the early years of medical science...with a mystery and conspiracy that kept me guessing for a good long while. The occasional returns to the present day setting only serve to highlight the history being shown in the past...Garritson manages to show off all the cool research she's done into early American medicine without seeming awkward or intrusive. Instead, the modern scenes only serve as brief signposts...and then back you hurtle into the central story.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


I read this article and just I mean, the feeling of sailing on the wind...the relaxed atmosphere...the wind in the sails... So amazing! And, I have to admit, the bagpipe playing captain who tells stories at sunset is a serious draw.

Staying power

First of new job is not excessively involving - hopefully I'll be able to make good use of the twiddly thumb time and write on my story! (Thanks, Ryan, for the excellent suggestion at discount prices.) It is also my first position at the University of Toronto...and I'm not sure what that says about working for the university. On the other hand, I know the position I WANT (Departmental admin...ideally for an English or Theatre dept, but I'm open to whatever...except maybe business...because I find people who major in business to be entirely too unacademic) is equally demanding and interesting. So here's to making the most of this experience and crossing my fingers for the "real deal" at a later date.

Second of best friend Tina and I have committed to eat healthy, exercise and encourage each other so that we can lose some pounds. Neither of us are our "ideal body weight" and we both love good this shall be a difficult challenge. I've never, ever, EVER tried to diet before...and I don't really want to make this a diet - because diets don't work and they don't last. Instead, I want to gain more knowledge and better eating habits. The knowledge...well that's the "easy" part - the habits...those take practice. The real crunch for both Tina and myself is that we are both on serious budgets. So some of the really good things are just impossible. We can't afford to spend the extra money on whole wheat pasta all the time, etc. Any suggestions for eating healthy on a budget that basically means you're taking carbs and adding to them?

Here are the current dishes I make on a regular basis:
Pasta with red sauce & cheese
Pasta with red sauce, veggies & cheese
Pasta with red sauce, meatballs & cheese
Pasta with red sauce, shrimp & cheese
Steamed rice stir fried with veggies & soy sauce (usual veggies are: green onions, green peppers, garlic...)
Steamed rice stir fried with shrimp & curry (and onions, etc.)
Mashed potatoes with sour cream, chives & bacon
Spinach or red leaf lettuce based salad (sometimes with a cream dressing, sometimes with a vinegar based one...veggies are basically seasonal - sometimes with a poppy seed dressing and mandarin oranges.)
Steamed cauliflower or broccoli
Frozen pizza
Salmon with rice
French toast w/real Canadian maple syrup
Pancakes w/real Canadian maple syrup
Tea, Coffee & Hot Chocolate
Air popped popcorn w/butter, salt & a little pepper

I use real butter, 2% milk and light sour cream. I don't typically like the "fat free" versions of things and I am allergic to aspartame.

So, now I need more "healthy" ways to cook these things...or other things that I can cook (some things I can't make because of limitations on pans, etc as I had to leave much at home when we came to Canada) on a budget of both time & money.

But, really, I think the best and biggest motivator for me will be the knowledge that I'm responsible to Tina and she's responsible to me. We're coming from a similar place in life and in appetite (why I couldn't do this with my mom!) and we're going the distance.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Week is here...and I'm up at an insanely early hour

Well, my job for the next week & 2 days calls for me to be there at 8AM today. Which means, since it's a first day, I'd like to be there at 7:45AM. (On a first day, I give myself a little bit of "lost" time.) Which means, since it will take about 45 minutes to get there...I have to leave at 7AM. As far as "get-up times" go...this job really stinks. Fortunately, I only have to be there at 8AM today...after that, we're back to yet another reason Canada is a sane country. The STANDARD time to get to work is 9AM. I may have to get up at 6:15 in the morning (before the sun!), but at least my temp lady apologized about it!

In other news, Scott & I purchased Settlers of Catan yesterday. It is an insanely fun game! We played a nice 2 player variant which, although it can be a little unbalanced, is still a very good game. We're looking into modifications on the variant we were playing that will make it work even better.

Well, I'd best get ready for the job. Tonight I'll post nifty pictures of the awesome cool clothes we saw on our fun trip down Queen Street yesterday!

Friday, January 11, 2008


So, since it's officially 2008...the year the presidential election is ACTUALLY IN...I figure, I can allow myself some political meanderings.

Before the Iowa caucus & New Hampshire primary, I was a tad worried that Mr. Wishy Washy (AKA Rudy Guiliani) had a good shot at the republican nomination. If that had been the case, I was going to have to ponder voting democratic. I'd still love to vote the Texas primary...because I really, really, really don't want Hilary Clinton to come anywhere near the white house. She's been there once already...we don't need her there again. Plus, I thought we were over the whole "presidential dynasty" thing! I mean...we've had it with the we're going back to the Clintons?, I know, those republicans are all over the board. But I'm much happier with John McCain or Huckabee than I was with Guiliani. Now, the super cool thing would be if Ron Paul got into the big race (i.e. past the primaries). Wouldn't that be interesting?

Lo. Behold. The Weekend Cometh

Well, Scott has finished up his school for the day while I have completed a marathon of cleaning. As long as you ignore the bathroom and the bedroom, the apartment has never been cleaner! (Which means, for the few who were counting, that I really only cleaned 1 room.) I swept, I wiped, I washed & I vacuumed. I feel accomplished!

Now, of course, cleaning is not my favorite thing to do in the world. This is part of the reason I feel so good after taking out the trash, washing the dishes (dishwashers are for wimps! I wanna be a wimp...), scrubbing the counter tops, etc. I have accomplished a Wife Task. And for that, I get Wife Points (AKA kisses) and the privilege of playing Wii on a day when I didn't have work without feeling bad about playing while Scott's studying.

Even though we made a Gigantic Grocery Run of Heavy Doom, spending the most money on groceries since we first got established, I already have a long list of new things we need. Most of them are "once off" items...those pesky little things you can't budget for because you never know what they'll be or when you'll need them. I can go quite a few months without buying plastic bags or pencils, y'know...just not something one budgets for. And, since Scott & I are on a "live life as cheaply as humanly possible...and then splurge to feel human" budget, these extra expenditures are meaning we're being really careful of our food & splurge budget. But, thank goodness, I have a week + 2 days job starting that's good. Thank you God, for the job that came at the end of the day from the agency I hadn't called yet!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Fighting the Temporary Battle

Well, today I had no work. Which was no fault of mine. Or is it? This is the constant battle I fight. I had a job opportunity - but it involved outbound calling. Now, I may be a temp, but I've got my standards and I refuse to do outbound calling. So, I turned down the job and spent the day running errands, researching how the Canadian taxes and American taxes work together and feeling a tad useless.

But, thanks to the support of my loving husband, I can't feel guilty (yet). Somewhere out there, is a company that needs me for longer than a few days. And I'll keep on fighting the temporary battle until they find me. And, someday, I'll be able to get a real job, a permanent job, and hopefully a fun, interesting and good job.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

An archer at the gate!

Well...there's no actual gate...but here's an archer I colored and edited.

Riding the Rocket

Taking the Toronto Transit Commision (TTC) AKA "Riding the Rocket" is indeed a small bit like riding inside a very small, cramped rocket. This is, of course, only at rush hour. Other times of day, one will often enjoy having much of the bus to oneself. But, "riding the rocket" at rush hour is an experience that, I feel, makes me that much more of a true Torontonian...Torontoer...Torontan....whatever. Here are a few of the more unique episodes, the good, the bad and the decidedly odd.

Indian Man with an I-Pod full of Indian music, I hope your music sounds better than your unconscious singing of it.

Driver of streetcar #512 on Queen street, thank you. You brightened my day as I came home from the Temp Job That Would Not End.

I have learned my lesson well, oh ms. blind beggar woman, I will not be helping you down onto the subway to beg in a loud voice right next to me again. Ever.

And, oh crazy woman whose constant monologue to anyone who will listen informs one and all that her ex-husband shall get no support from her...back to the slammer with him, death row addict with his death row friends. Thank you. For sharing.

With only one exception, TTC drivers have been remarkably nice, pleasant people. So, whoever does their hiring does a pretty good job. And, whenever people ask what my favorite thing about living in Toronto is...I shall say without hesitation "not driving."

Monday, January 07, 2008

A little night music

Well, the day draws to a close and I have completed the night-before-work ritual of picking out tomorrow's outfit. I'm glad it's brown - I get to wear my new boots! Which is good, because the latest temp job will be requiring a walk in the park on my way to and from work. Hopefully this one will last just this week - as I don't know how I feel about 30 minute lunches and snowy walks quite yet. Well, I say that could be awesome people and thence I shall want to keep it...I just don't know.

This whole "temp" thing is not always the coolness it is made out to be. Sometimes you get good jobs...sometimes you get bum jobs. And there's almost always no way to tell which it will be until you've already committed to it. Ah well. Here's to one week as a receptionist for a cosmetic surgeon. Will it be a face lift or a downward slide? I'll know better tomorrow!

No Snow Today

In all honesty, I'm not quite sure exactly why I'm starting this blog. Except that, about 2 or 3 times a week, I find myself saying "If I had a blog, I'd write a post about that." I suppose now we'll see if I was merely musing idly or sincerely had something to say.

My brother turns 21 this week. Which, if we were in the same town, would mean that Scott & I would have to break out the Esoteric Alcohol of Educated Taste, and attempt to preserve him from the dreary life that is mass marketed beer...and the almost as dreary life that is mass marketed ale. As it is, I think he'll be abstaining anyways, as he's on meds due to a recent surgery.

It is quite calming to sit here, typing, and listen to my terrific husband read aloud his Chaucer, which, being in Middle English, goes in and out of I'm not paying attention. But, it's very pretty. Not as pretty as Italian or anything...but slightly more understandable for one who speaks not the language and special in it's own way.