As usual, when it comes to Christmas music I saved the best for last. One of the best Christmas presents I ever received was tickets to see these guys when they played in Toronto. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.
A Mad Russian's Christmas
Wizards In Winter
TSO – Christmas Eve in Sarajevo
Hope you have a wonderful Christmas and I'll be back in the New Year.
So ... the daughter and I are finally going to see the new Star Wars tomorrow night (I know, I can't believe we've waited this long either!) and this morning I was on YouTube looking for funny Christmas videos to post 'cause that's what I do this time of year, and I came across a Christmas Star Wars video.
And then it occurred to me that where there's one funny Star Wars video there should be more. And I was right. So here's a few of my favourites. Even if you're not a Star Wars fan (seriously, now could anyone not be?) you can still enjoy the videos. :-)
magnificat ~ canticle in praise of the Virgin Mary
Happy Winter Solstice!
It's the shortest day of the year today, also known as the first day of winter, also the beginning of Yuletide, which was taken over by the Christians and turned into Christmas. :-)
I'm sitting here, staring out the deck doors, watching the rain coming down. Definitely not a sight to inspire the Christmas spirit. Also in my line of sight are the Christmas tree, all the Christmas presents under it, and the Santa penguins beside it. To be honest? They look a little out of place.
Thanks to global warming, winter has been getting a later and later start and I'm pretty sure that white Christmases are a thing of the past for us here on the edge of Lake Ontario. In fact, I've suggested starting a fund so that when the grandbaby is around 5 years old we can all go up north for Christmas so she can see what it's like to have snow at Christmas.
When I was a child I loved Christmas - decorating the tree, stealing cookies as my mother baked them, watching the pile of presents grow under the tree ... and of course there would be a heavy blanket of snow out there transforming the drab, grey landscape into something magical.
Of course I didn't have to do any of the actual work towards Christmas other than making a few crafts, which I loved doing even as a kid. I didn't have to bake the cookies, or shovel the snow, or foot the bill for the mountain of presents. My only job was to enjoy myself.
I still enjoy Christmas. Mostly. I may not always enjoy the work leading up to it - like the marathon baking binge I went on over the weekend, or the shopping and present wrapping - but once Christmas Eve is here and I can sit back and relax, I can plug in the Christmas lights, and listen to some Christmas Carols while ignoring the grass outside that needs cutting. There's just something special about Christmas.
This year is going to be extra special because we have our grandbaby now. We tried not to go too overboard with gifts for her first Christmas (she has her first birthday in January) and I can't wait until Christmas morning when she gets to open them.
There was a brief time, when our daughter was born, that the joy of Christmas (along with every other holiday) dimmed a little because we have a lot of family and everybody wanted a piece of us, especially at Christmas. 'Tis the season to be jolly, but nothing will suck all the fun out of it like family. We made a lot of compromises that nobody was really happy with and got through it somehow.
So when the daughter started seeming a little frazzled with all the expectations of the season, I could really sympathize with her. And I told her that this time of year it's okay to be selfish. You're never going to please everyone, so don't even try. Do what makes you happy.
One of our traditions has always been to have a big Christmasy dinner on Christmas Eve. I'd cook game hens and each of us would have our own so there was no fighting over dressing or leftovers. But my daughter has a new family now and wants to start her own traditions. And this does not include coming to our house on Christmas Eve, although we are invited to their house on Christmas Day.
And you know what? That's a good thing. Most of my family's traditions - like singing Christmas Carols and reading stories - have fallen by the wayside because of other expectations of the season. So I'm glad to see my daughter starting traditions of her own and I hope, over the years, that she never loses them.
myelic ~ of, like or pertaining to the spinal cord
I have to admit, this past weekend was far more productive than the last one. At least as far as Christmas goes. We knocked off about 85% of the Christmas shopping on Saturday. I got another 5% done on Sunday. Just a couple of little things left to buy plus two big things.
And be still my heart, I even had everything we bought wrapped on Sunday. And then of course I had to put the tree up so I had someplace to put everything. AND of course the cats "helped" with the wrapping by going after the ribbon. One of them escaped with a piece long enough that we'll have to keep our eye on him for the next couple of days in case it causes him intestinal problems.
One of the presents I got was admittedly for myself. I bought a couple of silicone liners for my cookie sheets. Just think of the aluminum foil we'll save! I can't wait to try them out.
I got as far as taking the butter out of the fridge yesterday, but that was it. Between shopping and wrapping and setting up the tree, I kind of ran out of time. And then I ran out of back. As in my back was hurting from sitting on the floor wrapping presents. Which was a hold-over from yesterdays back ache from being on my feet so long shopping. Advil is my new best friend.
I made another one of those epiphanial discoveries on the weekend. The reason my plans seem to go awry on the weekends (or any other time for that matter) is because I seldom get the timing right. Things always seem to take a lot longer to accomplish than I count on.
Take yesterday, for instance (please!). Yesterday I wanted to return a couple of things we bought Saturday, pick up a couple of things we needed/didn't get, do a progress report on a transcribing project I have on the go, start my Christmas baking, and in the evening maybe get a little sewing in or start on this year's tree ornament.
My day started with an hour on the exercise bike, followed by a shower and breakfast - there goes just about 2 hours. The quick trip to Walmart and Staples turned into a long trip to Walmart (while much to my chagrin I forgot to stop at their McDonald's kiosk for a coffee), then Bulk Barn, then Metro, then Dollarama, then Staples, then Tim Horton's (for a gift card). This made me an hour late for lunch, so bad diabetic that I am I took my pills with a maple pecan danish from Tim's and a coffee. ;-)
By this time I was rather grumpy and my back (which hadn't quite recovered from shopping on Sunday) was hurting again. But I had Christmas presents and wrapping spread out in the living room from the night before and figured I'd better take care of that. Wrapping up took me another 2 or 3 hours. The hubby brought the Christmas tree upstairs for me and I figured that would be the best place to store the presents, but first I needed to put the lights on it.
After stringing the lights, cleaning the wrapping detritus from the living room, and cleaning off the dining room table, it was time to make supper. After taking a couple of Advil for my back, of course. By the time supper was over, I was in serious need of some sit and relax time, which I did. But I did manage to get a little sewing in, and later I finished my progress report.
Anyway, the moral of this sad and pathetic pity party is: when making out a to-do list, remember to leave ample time to do all your projects. :-D
And because I'm starting to feel a little more Christmasy, I'm going to leave you with some Christmas favourites to spread the cheer.
Isn't it strange how these Mondays keep creeping up on me? Every week, like clockwork, another one appears ...
Even more appalling ... only two more Mondays after this one before Christmas. Are you ready?
I'm barely even started. The outdoor lights are up, and hubby and I went Christmas shopping on Saturday. We came home again pretty much empty handed, but I guess that was pretty much to be expected considering over half of our Christmas list is small children and there was no Toys 'R Us in the city we went to.
What is Toys 'R Us, those of you without children ask? Only the Mecca of all toy stores. Think Walmart sized super store, but with nothing but toys. And if you're still having trouble picturing it, check this out:
So ... we spent at least five hours on Saturday and came back with nothing, then I had to pick up something at Walmart on Sunday and came back with a couple of things off the list in under an hour, and this morning I stopped at Walmart for some thread and ended up with a couple of actual Christmas presents - and I was there for less than half an hour. Apparently slow and steady does not win the race when it comes to Christmas shopping. And I also came away with ideas for both sisters and a great-niece.
I baked cookies yesterday, but not Christmas ones. I finally made the oatmeal chocolate chip cookies the hubby's been whining about ever since I started my apple baking marathon, and when the daughter found out I was baking cookies her ears perked up, so I ended up making some peanut butter ones for her and her hubby so there'd be at least a couple of chocolate chip ones left when hubby got home.
I will need to start thinking about the Christmas baking soon though. And I think this year's theme will be "chocolate covered". When we were at Costco I couldn't resist a 2.4 kg (5 lb) bag of chocolate chips. The good ones. I can use them in fudge, but you can only make so much fudge. ;-)
And I hereby promise not to refer to Canadian Tire as Crappy Tire any more. They had a cookie gun for me, and at a reasonable price. Now all I have to do is find the time to mix up the Spritz cookie dough.
On top of everything else I have going on, yesterday I was handed three pairs of pajama pants that need to be made. Call me crazy, but I just knew this was going to happen the moment the daughter mentioned wanting to make them for Christmas. The material she got was striped, which is a little tricky to match so she needed help cutting them out. So we did that yesterday (and by "we" I mean "me").
Then, of course, she was going to need "help" sewing them together. I had visions of my free time being sucked away by having to go over there multiple times to talk her through the sewing part; remembered how easily frustrated she'd get as a teen when she tackled a project like this; and before I could sensor my mouth I said, "Just leave them here and I'll do them."
Fortunately, it's a super easy pattern and shouldn't take me more than a couple of nights. Provided I don't run out of thread again.
I must say, November is really kicking my butt. If anything can go wrong, it does. I'm behind in pretty much everything, including my Monday posts. Seriously, I just do one post a week and I can't even seem to manage that. And I'm doubly glad I opted out of NaNo this year because I strongly suspect it would have been an epic failure.
*deep breath - inhale, exhale*
Okay, now that that's out of the way ...
Have you ever noticed there's just not enough hours in the day? I've heard a rumour that our cable company is going to change their format in the new year - no, I'm not jumping off topic here, bear with me for a minute - instead of having to subscribe to all these bundles to get the one or two channels you actually want, they're going to have basic cable and then packages allowing you to pick and choose your channels. So you might have 50 channels, but half of them won't be sports or French or whatever.
So what has this to do with the hours in a day? Well, I was just thinking. Wouldn't it be great if we could choose how many hours there were in a day? You know, so if you were having a bad day you could shorten the hours, and if you were having a good day you could lengthen them. Or you could borrow time from the rest of the week to use now to finish that important project. I don't know about you, but I think it would be awesome.
I've been feeling stretched very thin for the last couple of weeks, and I feel like I'm on the verge of snapping. There just doesn't seem to be enough hours in the day to do everything I need/want to get done and something's got to give. Lately it's been my sleep.
Last week, on top of the lack of sleep thing, I had a bad cold kicking my butt. Then it was the cold medication. Can't win for losing apparently. Now the cold medication I was taking was one of those all-in-one things that you can get in just a regular package or in a package that includes a night-time version. I went for the regular one and discovered that instead of it making me sleepy, it made me more awake. So even though I didn't get a lot of extra sleep last week, it made me feel like I did, and it was a pretty good feeling.
For one thing, I didn't have the urge to nap constantly. And because of that I actually got a few things done last week that I've been letting slide. Funny how that works out. One of the things I was able to do was make the Christmas dress for my granddaughter. When my daughter was little I used to make her a fancy dress every year for Christmas and sometimes Easter. So it was kind of nice to be able to carry on the tradition.
My daughter gave me a picture to go by and the material. The rest was up to me. But never fear, I've been sewing most of my life and for a baby's dress a picture was all I needed. Granted I pretty much blew off everything else to get it done in a day and a half, but I think it was worth it.
Here's the picture I had to work with:
And here's my version of the dress:
Not bad if I do say so myself. And as I type this, the dress has been sent to my daughter's friend in Vancouver to have silver snowflakes embroidered on the red part. I'm a pretty fair hand at embroidery myself, and I've worked with the metallic threads before. And all I can say is, better the friend than me!
misfortunate ~ bad luck; an unfortunate condition or event
I don't know about where you live, but here in Ontario, Canada we've been enjoying some awesome fall weather these last couple of days. There's been heavy frost on the ground in the morning, but the sun is still strong enough to burn it away by mid-morning. There aren't a lot of leaves left on the trees, but the days are crisp and cool and make me want to walk in the park so I can shuffle through the leaves.
Does anyone else like to do that? To me that's one of the best parts about the fall - shuffling through the crisp, crunchy leaves that cover the sidewalks and ground. And yes, I will go out of my way to shuffle through the leaves on the grass if there are none on the side walk. There's something about it that brings out the kid in me. :-)
Another thing that says fall to me, as I've already mentioned in previous posts, is apples. I received one more bag of apples last week and yesterday I used them up in half a dozen pot-pie sized apple crisps and two more apple pies. No more apples please, my freezer is full!
I've been thinking a lot about luck lately. Or more precisely, bad luck and its root causes. Why are some people luckier than others? Are they born that way or is luck somehow drawn to them just as bad luck seems to be drawn to other people?
I'm pretty sure I've whined about posted about luck before, but lucky you, you get to hear about it again. ;-)
I don't know if it's just the year or the story of my life, but I seem to have a disproportionate amount of bad luck. A lot of the time it's just little things, but it adds up so it's like having a big bad luck. Last week my little things culminated in coming home from babysitting Friday afternoon and discovering we had no hot water. And of course it couldn't just be a heating element or something going in the hot water tank, there was a steady stream of water coming from the bottom of it and little hissing noises coming from the top.
Now some people might point out that it could have been worse, and yes, it could have been. The hot water tank is situated right beside our sump hole, so the water was mostly draining into it - not that it mattered really because our basement was still pretty wet from all the rain we got last week. And the hissing noise could have been gas from the heating element escaping instead of just water.
And now that I think about it, normally I would have washed the container my lunch was in at my daughter's, but I didn't have time to eat lunch there on Friday so I had it when I came home. I rinsed my container out right away instead of waiting to include it with the supper dishes, and that's when I discovered we had no hot water. And the company we rent the water heater from just happened to have a truck in our area - they'd been just about to start back to the city, but came here instead. And I was fortunate they had a brand new water heater in their truck, which they were quick to install.
So I guess, when all is said and done, my luck can't be all bad. Maybe all the little good luck happenstances add up just like the bad ones do. The little good lucks of timing counterbalanced the bad luck of the messed up water heater.
Checks and balances. Maybe I should keep a list of both the bad luck and the good to see if they balance out at the end of the day. I can start with today, where I remembered to start the car to thaw it out before I went to the gym early this morning, but forgot to take my shoes with me. I'm already starting with a balance. LOL
Maybe the people who don't believe in luck are the real lucky ones. ;-)
As you may have noticed (or more likely you didn't - does anyone actually read this thing?) I did not get a post done for last week. I had two very good reasons for this. The first was that I appear to be in a creative slump. The second was that I had nothing to say.
These two reasons are not mutually exclusive. If you've read this blog more than once, you know what a boring life I lead. Work out, transcribe, babysit, sometimes throw a little baking or writing in. Occasionally I'll read a book or two, but that kind of goes hand in hand with the exercise. While it may not be the most exciting life, it's good enough for me. But it makes for rather boring reading.
Now the creative slump is something I've been going through at this time of year for the last few. I call it the "pre-NaNo-syndrome". While other people prepare for NaNo (more about that in a minute) by filling out character charts and creating elaborate story maps and plotting to a fare-thee-well, I simply do ... nothing. It's like a dam builds up in my mind, keeping the creativity at bay and then is released on November 1st in a torrent of words.
Never heard of NaNo? How about NaNoWriMo? No? Okay, then you need to go HERE.
Go ahead, I'll wait.
Have an idea of what NaNo is all about now? Okay, now you need to go HERE to find out why I'm not doing it this year.
There's another, even more compelling reason for me to stop doing NaNo. It's the NaNo Mind Set, and I have recently found it spilling over into my non-NaNo writing.
The NMS is what gets you through NaNo. You focus on the word count, on forging ahead with your story no matter what. Don't let anything stop you. You need to do research? Pfft! Just fake it and move on. You can do the research after NaNo. Need a character name? Call him Mr. X, call her Mrs. Y, worry about finding the perfect name once you're done. It's closing in on the end of the day and you have 500 more words to go? Start padding! Instead of Jane said, write Jane, who was related to Bob through an obscure cousin born on the wrong side of the blanket, heaved a much put upon sigh, rolled her eyes so far back in her head Lucy was afraid they'd roll right out of their sockets, and replied in a voice that was akin to nails on a chalkboard.
Now, as you should know by now if you've been here before - and stay with me here because I'm not going as far off track as you might think - I have a self-imposed daily quota of 500 words to write. It's a pretty reasonable amount really - two pages double spaced. However, I was appalled to learn that I'd fallen into the NMS with the four WIP I have going on.
In other words, I was focusing on the words instead of the story. I was starting to include all kinds of things that I knew were just going to get cut during the editing process, just to get my daily quota in. And while the NMS is good for completing the NaNo challenge or even to get a novel written, it makes for an editing nightmare. At least for me it does.
Take my fantasy novel Lucky Dog for instance. I wrote the first half of it for NaNo THREE years ago. And it continued in the NaNo fashion until the book was more than 100,000 words. And trust me when I say that even after cutting about 20,000 words, it's still a really big book. And it's still being edited.
So no more NaNo-ing for me until I get my words under control.
Will I ever do NaNo again? Oh, probably. It's a lot of fun and the NaNo community spirit is like no other. In fact, I was fighting the urge all day yesterday to pick one of the ideas I have on the back burner and go to it. But today, it's a bit of a relief that I only have to worry about 500 words instead of the 1667 that is the daily NaNo goal.
To those doing NaNo, I salute you, and may the words be ever in your favour. ;-)
You know what the best thing is about the election for Canada's new Prime Minister today? It means an end to the endless phone calls, knocks on the door, and over abundance of commercials of people all trying to me how I should vote. At one point I felt like telling the last earnest young man who interrupted my work day that I'd vote for the first candidate who'd stop sending people to harass me.
And you can't even get away from it by watching the American channels on the television. Our cable company runs the feed off the Canadian channels whenever possible, which means if a program is on both the Canadian and American channels, they fix it so you're watching the Canadian one, which means you're getting the Canadian commercials.
The weather has turned cold and the leaves have started to change their colour, finally. Don't blink or you might miss it. I have the feeling before we know it we're going to be looking at naked trees out there.
And, of course, this is the time of year when you need a jacket with a thermostat so the warmth it provides can be adjusted throughout the day. My jean jacket or heavy hoodie are all right for day time, but this morning I broke out the winter jacket to go to the gym. I also went out and started the car before feeding the cats. It didn't impress them much, but it was nice not to have to scrape the frost off the car.
Yesterday was frosty too, but since I didn't have to go anywhere I didn't have to deal with it, the hubby did. And I must confess, I probably felt a little more smug than I should have at the thought that he had to deal with the frost on the car for a change. ;-)
I was able to cut apple mountain in half yesterday - I've only got two bags and a small basket of apples left to deal with. I started with apple/oatmeal pancakes. I normally make pancakes from scratch and I adapted my recipe to include both oatmeal and apples. Man were they good (if I do say so myself)! With the leftover batter (hubby doesn't eat anything apple) I made a bunch of little ones for the granddaughter and she really liked them too.
On Saturday, one of the ladies at my gym was talking about these caramel apple tarts she made, and they sounded so easy that I got some tart tins and gave it a try. The two I sampled tasted so good that I broke down and made an oatmeal pie crust and made half a dozen pot pie size caramel apple tarts, as well as a pie. That was a lot of peeling and chopping (as my back was telling me), but it was worth it.
I still don't have any apple muffins made yet, nor can I find my meat pie tins I bought to make single serving apple crisps. And I still have raspberries in the fridge that have to be used up. And the hubby mentioned he wouldn't be offended if I made him a cookie or two. ;-)
Good thing this is a great time of year for baking, eh?
Thanksgiving ~ a national holiday celebrated primarily in the United States and Canada as a day of giving thanks for the blessing of the harvest and of the preceding year.
Happy Thanksgiving to all my Canadian friends and Happy Columbus Day to all my American friends! I hope wherever you are, you're enjoying the abundance of harvest time.
As you know, normally I write my Monday post on Sunday night. But quite frankly, Sunday night I was in a food coma. I could barely keep my eyes open, let alone write anything. :-)
I always think of Thanksgiving as a time to reflect, and to be grateful for all that we have. This year I have an extra thing to be grateful for, my adorable little granddaughter, Ellie:
What makes this picture even funnier is the way her mother was freaking out in the background because Ellie kept wanting to touch the turkey. My daughter has a phobia about touching raw meat, which was why I was there on Saturday to stuff her turkey for her.
Today is also the day of my daughter's birth, and from the day she first discovered cheesecake, that has been her birthday cake of choice. Traditionally it was always a peanut butter cheesecake, but the last few years she's branched out a bit in her choices of flavour. This year she asked for chocolate. Being the overachiever in the cooking department I am, I couldn't just throw some chocolate into a regular cheesecake recipe. No, I had to get a little fancier than that:
As well as the Oreo cookies embedded in the outside, the crust on both the bottom and the top is made from crushed Oreos as well. An entire bag went into the outside. Well, minus the two cookies I ate. ;-)
The filling was made from chocolate cream cheese with some cocoa powder added. And then at the last minute I threw in some chocolate chips, which melted into the cake instead of retaining their shape like they do in cookies or regular cakes. To say the result was decadently chocolatey would be an understatement. The cookies around the outside were a good idea, they provided a serving guide - one cookie width made the perfect serving size.
Thank goodness the rest of it went home with the daughter. :-D
But don't despair, I still have half a pumpkin pie, three-quarters of an apple pie, and a fridge threatening to burst with leftovers.
September was not a kind month to me. I'm crossing my fingers that October will be better but it's too soon to get my hopes up so we'll have to wait and see.
Hard to believe, but I survived my five days without the internet. Actually, it wasn't as bad as it seemed at the time. Once I got over my initial shock/rage/angst dare I say it was a little freeing?
I could still write, but without distractions (game, Facebook, email). I found I had time for other things, like reading and ... gulp ... housework. I even did some baking. The only two things I really missed was access to my email, and being able to go to the Cogeco grid to see what was on TV.
As you know, I look after my granddaughter in the afternoons, and since I had the whole eight hour time frame going on waiting for the repairman, she had to come here. And of course the repairman came just as I had her ready to be fed so in that respect it was a bit of a debacle, but the main thing is the internet is fixed and I'm online again. :-D
It's apple season! Apples are a main crop around here - many orchards, two really big ones. I bought apples a week ago, thinking to make some apple muffins or apple bread or something, and since then I've been given three bags of apples from people with apple trees. Apparently there's a bumper crop this year. Time to get baking!
So one of the other things apple season means is an influx of migrant workers. One of the big orchards imports workers from Mexico, and the other imports from Jamaica. I remember when I worked the service desk in retail dreaded Friday nights in the fall. That's when the workers got paid, and their first stop was our store because the manager would allow them to cash their cheques there.
Ironically, despite the fact we were a grocery store, they did very little shopping with us, preferring to save their money for the discount grocery store across town. But they did use our Western Union service to send money to their families back home.
This was back in the days when we had to phone each and every transaction in. If you were lucky you got a hold of a Western Union agent who'd let you do multiple transactions without having to redial for each one and if you were really lucky, there'd be a second person working the desk to help check the forms and take the money.
It's been a long time since I've worked it that place. Time keeps changing and I'm sure everything is automated now. The workers probably all have direct deposit allowing them to cut out the Western Union middle man completely.
The migrant workers are here, the leaves are starting to turn, and it's become cold enough that I actually have the heat turned on.
miserable ~ wretchedly unhappy or uncomfortable; pitiably small or inadequate
When I first started to use random "m" words to title my Monday posts, I had found a website that listed hundreds of unusual words for each letter of the alphabet and copy/pasted all the "m" words into a document to refer back to without having to keep going to the web site. I don't know how many pages I started with, but I still have sixteen pages worth of "m" words to go.
However, today I did not want to use a random "m" word. Today I wanted to convey exactly how life has been treating me lately, and as words go, miserable is a pretty good one.
For those of you who aren't within rant range of me, my internet went out late Thursday night. I didn't think much of it at the time because the cable for the television had flickered a time or two earlier and I just figured it was part of the same glitch. But Friday morning I awoke and there was still no internet.
So I called Cogeco, who is my service provider. First I tried the direct technical support line and was asked to answer three questions for a quick survey. Being a good sport I did, and suddenly I was transferred to some way too cheerful travel agent who couldn't believe I didn't want a free cruise. When I finally got her to accept the fact that all I wanted was Cogeco tech support, she then blithely told me she couldn't ping me back there so I'd have to call again.
So I tried again. This time I got some kid whom I could barely hear, and told him about the flashing light on my modem. He told me to try resetting it, that didn't work, so then he scheduled a service call for me. For Tuesday. That's five days without internet service. Unacceptable! Oh, and the tech will be coming sometime between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.
I never knew how much I'd grown dependent on the internet until I no longer had access to it. What's the weather going to be like? Check the internet. What's the definition for miserable? Check the internet. What's on TV tonight? Check the internet. And the list goes on.
To be honest, this was just the last straw as far as Friday went. Friday was ... a really, really bad day. So the lack of internet service on top of everything else was really hard to take.
But by Saturday I was starting feel a little more reasonable. As the hubby said, "What did we ever do before the internet?" What indeed!
By the end of Sunday (which is actually when I'm writing this so I can take advantage of the free wifi at the library and schedule this to appear at the appropriate time) the only thing I was really missing was the convenience of checking my email and Facebook whenever I liked. Although I'm still angry that a big company like Cogeco is taking five days to set things right.
I must say though, I feel like I've had more than my fair share of bad luck this year, especially lately. I don't recall breaking any mirrors, walking under any ladders, or ignoring pennies laying on the ground. And I always knock on wood when tempting fate. So what gives?
I'm not even looking for some good luck to replace the bad. Just stop heaping the bad luck on me.
Wednesday is the first day of Autumn ... where'd Summer go?? Seems like it was just yesterday we were complaining about the heat.
Oh, wait. It was just yesterday. Or maybe it was a couple of days ago. I distinctly remember the daughter and I in Walmart saying how much we needed a coffee and opting for an iced coffee because it was too hot out for a regular coffee.
And just for the record ... while I love McDonald's hot coffee, their iced coffee sucks. I've been taking my coffee without sugar for long enough that it was kind of a shock to the taste buds how overly sweet it was. Even the daughter, who does take sugar in her coffee, found it too sweet.
Last week was kind of a roller coaster of good luck and bad luck and that's pretty much par for the course with me, but what made it unusual was the way I'd start out a day on a high note and it would suddenly go downhill, or it would start out bad and take a turn for the better. Normally it's just one or the other.
Other than that, it was pretty much a normal week - get up, go to the gym, have breakfast, work on the transcribing, go babysitting, come home and work on the transcribing some more, have supper, and write/edit in the evening. Insert procrastinating and time wasting as needed. ;-)
Saturday I exchanged babysitting for laundry.
Sunday, which is supposed to be my day off, I spent cleaning the house. Or I tried to anyway. I did a thorough picking up on the main floor and even dusted the living room. Then I gave vacuuming my best shot but neither vacuum cleaner was working. The good one wouldn't suck at all - the filters were clean, the canister was empty, the belt was fine, the motor ran fine, the roller was spinning - it just wouldn't pick anything up.
The old one, which was sent to the basement when we got the newer one, would pick stuff up with the long hose, but not via the power pack that you use on the carpets. The roller in the power pack wasn't rolling. It's possible the belt had stretched out or broken, but I didn't bother taking it apart to see.
AND THEN, after all this cleaning and angst over the vacuum cleaners, the extra company we were expecting for dinner called up at the last minute to cancel. And the son in law had a meeting that included dinner. So dinner for six suddenly became dinner for three. *sigh*
On the one hand it was kind of annoying because I could think of a number of ways I would have preferred to spend such a beautiful Sunday. But on the other hand, my house is nice and clean now. :-D
You know, ya gotta love being Canadian. Well, at least I do.
In the space of less than two days I went from needing the fan on in my office to needing my fingerless gloves on to keep my fingers warm enough to type. And I've heard an ugly rumour that they've already had snow out west.
Surprisingly, we did not get a thunderstorm with the extreme temperature drop, despite the fact it rained all weekend. And we're talking torrents of rain. Hard enough rain that the spot over the hubby's chair in the living room leaked. Enough rain that the hubby had to pump water out of the pool.
And yet the first part of the week was mind-bendingly hot and humid. It was so hot that I even got a ride to the daughter's house for baby sitting. The weather people kept promising us thunderstorms to cool things off, but we never got them.
But by Friday it had cooled off considerably, to the point where we weren't using the air conditioners, although I still had a fan going. And then Saturday it had cooled off to the point where not only did I turn the fan off, I also shut the windows.
And now the weather people are saying that the temperatures are supposed to spike again this week. Go figure. ;-)
It was a quiet week last week, as in nothing much going on.
I wasn't even all that busy, except for Sunday. Sunday, as you may recall, is the day the daughter and her family come for dinner. And, it being a family dinner, I like to have a proper meal. It's also a great time to try out new recipes. That way the hubby and I aren't stuck with leftovers that never of us want to eat, but with food prices the way they are these days we don't want to just throw it out either.
This Sunday I tried something called "Stuffed Onion Bombs" and they got a thumbs up from everyone but the baby because she doesn't eat hamburger yet. ;-) I'm not sure where they got their name from, unless it's because they're 'da bomb'! Bacon wrapped yumminess! And they're pretty easy to make too:
Stuffed Onion Bombs
2 pounds ground beef
1 cup bread crumbs
1 egg, beaten
1 cup milk
1/2 cup BBQ Sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
3-4 Yellow Onions (med-large)
1 Package of Bacon
More BBQ Sauce
1. In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, crumbs, egg, milk, ½ cup BBQ, onion, salt, pepper and garlic powder. Mix together with your hands until thoroughly combined.
2. Cut top and bottom off onion, cut in half and peel off skin. Then separate the onion into "layers". Use the larger outside layers.
3. Stuff your Meatloaf mix between two Onion Layers (essentially making an onion seal around a large meatball)
4. Wrap each "bomb" with 3 slices bacon and secure with toothpicks.
5. Bake in a dish with sides (to catch grease) at 425 for approx 40 minutes or until internal temp 165.
6. Add BBQ sauce all over and bake an additional 5 minutes!
Here's a link to the recipe I sort of used. I pretty much just used my own meatloaf recipe and then followed the directions from there. And because I didn't want my "bombs" swimming in grease, I baked them on a rack in a roasting pan and then transferred them to a glass pan when I added the BBQ sauce. But my advice to anyone trying this would be to use one of those foil pans that can be just thrown out afterwards. It's pretty messy.
If you like meatloaf and you like bacon ... then try them. You'll love them!
Yes, that's right. Once again Monday has snuck up on me. I tell you, it feels like forever since I wrote last Monday's post.
And once again we're celebrating Labour Day by doing as little as possible. LOL
Labour Day ... the day kids all dread and parents all look forward to. It marks the end of the summer and the beginning of the school year. At least for some kids, that is.
I can't believe the amount of upheaval we've had regarding schools lately!
Enrollment has been dropping off across the board in our town over the past few years, and rather than allow our kids to take advantage of a better education that comes from smaller class sizes, the school board decided, "Hey, let's shut down these smaller, friendlier schools and create one big generic school instead! Never mind that half the kids will have to be bussed to it instead of walking, we can save crap loads of money and give ourselves a raise!"
They did the same thing with the high school too.
Last year our town boasted three high schools, but the powers that be decided to close the beautiful West High School with its charming atmosphere and hardwood floors, the original high school of the town, and amalgamate it with the East High School instead. But first ... they were going to renovate and turn the East High School into a big enough school to accommodate everyone.
Actually, I think the renovations have been going on for a couple of years now. One of my nieces went to the East high school, and most of their classes were done on-line last year, which was not the most brilliant of plans because over half the students are bussed in from outlying farm country where internet reception is spotty at best. Nevertheless, in the spring the town bid a tearful goodbye to CDCI West, as it closed its doors for the last time.
The only problem is, the renovations to the East high school (now known as CCI, Cobourg Collegiate Institute) are not done. At least they sure didn't look done when I drove by it this morning. Supposedly the offices and classrooms are usable, but rumour has it the cafeteria isn't finished and there are wires still hanging from the ceilings. I won't even mention the big, portable chain link fences still cutting off access to most of it. I'm sure I won't be the only one interested in what happens tomorrow.
And while we're on the subject of being at the mercy of builders ... one of my nieces is starting her first year of university this year. Bad enough this sweet, but shy, girl is having to deal with moving from a small town to a big city, but the residence she was supposed to be moving into is not habitable yet. Hundreds of first year students, many of them from out of province, are without the rooms they were promised, as well as the pre-paid meal plans. Hotel accommodations came too late, if at all, and were completely inadequate. You can hear some more about it HERE
So it looks to me like not everyone is celebrating Labour Day this year.
miosis ~ abnormal contraction of the pupil of the eye
Welcome Monday, I can use the break! I only did two things on the weekend, but they were both exhausting things.
First, I cleaned a closet. Now maybe that might not sound like a big thing, but this was the closet in the upstairs landing with the sliding mirror doors. And the reason I wanted to go through the stuff in that closet was I've lost a bit of weight and I wanted to check for clothes that fit. Sometimes it pays to refuse to part with clothing - I have a multitude of sizes.
Anyway, inside the closet is one of those metal organizing units and a chest of drawers, both filled with clothes. So hubby took the sliding doors off the closet for me (the doors are too wide for it and overlap enough that you can't open the dresser). Then I started pulling stuff off the shelves of the organizing unit, including a huge duffle bag from the top shelf. Upon investigation, it held my you-don't-have-a-prayer-of-fitting-into-these-clothes-but-miracles-do-happen stash of clothing, which made me wonder what was in the big bin on the dresser in the closet in the guest room.
Next thing you know, I'm pulling stuff out of the that dresser and checking out the bin. I think the idea at this point was to organize by size groupings. The bin held my yeah-there's-a-chance-but-you've-still-got-some-work-to-do stash. And somewhere in there I had the bright idea of cleaning out my closet and dresser as well.
Anyway, to make a long story short, I have five pairs of pants that will fit if I take them in, four pairs that are way too big and are getting donated, three pairs of pants (and an assortment of tops) that are almost there, and a single pair of jeans that actually fit. I also had two big recycling bags full of clothes to donate to charity, as well as a bag full of garbage.
All in all, quite the day's work.
The second thing I did over the weekend was go to the CNE.
Quite a while back I had the bright idea that we should take the daughter and her family to the CNE as our birthday present to the son-in-law. So we left bright and early and just to add some excitement to the day, after we left the safety of the 401 highway to make our way through the City of Toronto, the car stalled. And it did it again the next time we had to stop for a traffic light. So then the hubby had to pretty much drive the rest of the way to the fairgrounds with one foot on the gas and one on the brakes.
But we made it, and in one piece too, that's the main thing. It was a great day with lots to see and do, but I was reminded why when the daughter and I used to do this together we always went on a week day -- weekends at the CNE are insanely busy. I mean, it was busy when we arrived, but by mid-afternoon the crowds were horrendous.
When the daughter and I used to go we would stick to shopping in the various buildings - we never went on the rides and the only game we'd play would be the Birthday Game where the best we could hope for was a stuffed snake. This time we played a few games and while the daughter ended up paying an extra $5 to buy a stuffed unicorn for the granddaughter, together we won a respectably sized dragon for her playing a darts game.
We were all pretty much done in by the time we left, and the car behaved itself all the way home until we got to the first stoplight in our town.
All in all it was a good day and a weekend well spent.
morphotic ~ of, like or pertaining to formation or development
Once again I came to another Sunday night whereupon it was time to start today's blog post, and once again the idea well came up dry.
So I decided to sleep on it, hoping I'd be struck with inspiration once the sun came up. Only I wasn't. Perhaps part of the reason for this was I'm still waiting for the sun to actually come up. It was so dark when I awoke I had to put the lights on. I was actually a little relieved when we got a couple of spats of rain -- it's too soon for the days to be so short!
Still no ideas were forthcoming, so I continued my morning routine, namely, I fed the cats and went to the gym.
As most of you know, I've been going to Curves for almost a year now. My optimum time is first thing in the morning, before my body is awake enough to realize what I'm doing to it. So I went to Curves this morning hoping to stumble across some inspiration there.
For those of you who aren't familiar with Curves ... it's for women only and it's a circuit gym, which means it has about 15 machines arranged in a circle with a rest station in between. You only spend about 30 seconds on a machine before moving on the a rest station where you jog in place for 30 seconds before moving onto the next machine.
This is overseen by a coach/instructor who keeps a weather-eye on us to make sure we're using the machines properly, and instructs any newcomers on how to use the machines. If it's not busy, sometimes they'll even join in the "fun". Sometimes the fun includes gossiping about a wide range of topics, but that's not where the inspiration for this post came from today.
Each coach/instructor, there are about five different ones, has her own playlist when it comes to music. Let's face it, exercise always goes down easier with a few tunes, right? Sometimes you can tell who's working just by the music that's playing.
Well, today's instructor ... remember the disco era? When they'd take a perfectly good song and add a disco beat to it, thereby ruining the song forever? Today's instructor tapped into a playlist that was pretty much nothing but disco-fied songs.
It was like that horrifying record, Stars on 45 or even worse *shudder* Stars on Long Play. Some of the songs leant themselves very well to the disco beat, but then we segued into show tunes and I felt a chill that had nothing to do with the air conditioning in there.
They put ... I still can't believe it ... they gave The Phantom of the Opera a disco beat! Oh, the humanity!
Lately I've been whiningcomplaining discussing some of the challenges of working from home, and something I haven't mentioned yet is that when you work from home you tend to work longer hours. There's no clock to punch, no one to tell you to take a break, no reason you can't use the weekends to catch up if you fall behind during the week.
I mentioned that I've begun babysitting recently. It's only about three hours a day during the week days, but it's right in the middle of my day so I need to make up the time, if possible without sacrificing things like my writing or reading time.
Well most of the reading I've been doing lately is while I ride the exercise bike, and since I'm not about to stop doing that my reading time is safe. My writing time however ... When I started the transcribing project it wasn't much of a problem because despite my best intentions I never got much writing done during the day. So I transcribed during the day and wrote in the evenings.
Now, however, I'm going back down to my office after supper at night to get another hour or two of transcribing in, and I'm also working on weekends. Which, unfortunately, means less time for writing. However, I am learning to make better use of what time I have for writing.
I have to admit that a lot of my writing in the evenings consists of checking Facebook and playing games, with the actual writing being done in a mad dash an hour or so before bed. Enter the best friend a writer can have, the Alphasmart Neo.
Back in January (I think) I treated myself to a refurbished Neo. It's basically an electronic keyboard - no games, no bells, no whistles, no internet connection. The tiny built-in screen shows up to four lines of type at one time, which encourages you to just keep going and not look back. It's lightweight and runs on three triple A batteries. I've been using mine a lot and I still have over eighty percent battery life left. It will store up to eight different documents and when you're done for the day you just plug it into your computer and watch it transfer your pearls of wisdom.
I can take it with me when I baby sit on the off chance I can get a few words in, even if it's just a letter or an email - it still saves me having to do it later. But the biggest boon is my night-time writing. I can sit in front of the TV and write during my favourite shows - no temptation to play games or surf. And as a bonus - it doesn't generate any heat, so I can have it on my lap in this weather and not melt.
But lest you think all I do is work, while I do work on Saturdays now where I didn't before, I give myself a time limit. And after a particularly stressful week I declared Sundays my day of rest. Of course it didn't work out that way last Sunday - I ended up spending the better part of my day in the kitchen doing prep work for supper, which I tend to make fancier than needs be.
But yesterday I seemed to have a better handle on things. The supper I planned had very little prep work to it leaving my day mostly free. I got a bunch of words in during the morning, surfed for pictures for the cover for Lucky Dog in the afternoon, finding the perfect picture I might add, and got some more words written in the evening. I even had supper made on time, for a change.
All in all, it was a pretty awesome day. Now I just have to get through the rest of the week. LOL
You might have noticed I'm a little late with this post.
Normally I write these posts on Sunday night. But I had a busy day Sunday, and in the evening I started searching for stock photos for the cover for Lucky Dog. Have you ever tried searching for stock photos? And it wasn't just one photo, I was looking for three of them.
There are hundreds of places from which you can buy stock photos, and each of these places has thousands of photos. Like doing a Google search, doing a stock photo search requires careful wording, otherwise you don't know what you might end up with.
Anyway, I got so caught up in the search that time got away from me and before I knew it, it was time for bed. Now I could have stayed up to write the post, but sleep has been a real issue for me lately and I figured I could just do it in the morning.
What I hadn't counted on was the day from hell. One disaster after another but I'll spare you the gruesome details. You can thank me later. ;-) All I'll say is that today is just about over and tomorrow is a new day. And that it goes hand in hand with all the changes going on lately.
I don't like change.
There, I said it.
I once worked at a place where the motto was, "The only thing constant is change." I hated it. It didn't start out that way, the company was actually a great place to work. But then the owner got greedy and started making these deals and the company changed hands, and the HR woman came up with that cutesy little phrase, which didn't endear her to anyone - of course no one liked her anyway, but that's beside the point. And I think I'm getting a little off track here.
I believe I mentioned before that I like my little routines, and how much I dislike anything that upsets them, and lately life has been one big disruption after another.
Every time I just get settled into a new routine, something comes along to disrupt it and it throws me into a tail spin. And every time it happens it takes me longer to settle in again. And it's really starting to tick me off.
All I ask for is a handful of uneventful days so I can figure out my latest new routine.
Happy Simcoe Day. Or Civic Holiday. Or, as some of the locals have been lobbying for it to be, Happy James Cockburn Day. It's not a statutory holiday, but people generally have the day off ... unless you're unfortunate enough to work in retail because while the Post Office and other government agencies are closed, stores are open.
To celebrate the long weekend, our town closes off the main street for a huge, three day sidewalk sale. It's pretty much like a two-block, over priced yard sale. The stores put out all the stuff they couldn't sell over the last few years, but don't lower their prices enough to encourage people to buy.
There's also music and a sand sculpture competition down on the beach. The competition is pretty cool and attracts people from all over. I'm sure there's other stuff going on as well, but I wouldn't know. I tend to keep to my cave during these public displays of madness. ;-)
The competition ended on Sunday afternoon, and Sunday night we had some torrential rain storms sweep through, so I don't imagine there's much of the sand sculptures left. If the rain didn't get them, I'm sure the extremely high winds did.
Last week was a bit of a scorcher. Okay, it was a lot of a scorcher. I have to chuckle at the weather network. They can never make up their mind as to whether or not it's going to rain, and they seriously underestimate the temperature. They did declare an excessive heat warning for our area, but their temperatures were in the high 20s C (high 70s, low 80s F). Someone local on Facebook put a thermometer outside in the sun on one of those days, and the temperature registered 45 C (115 F). I think the truth lies somewhere in between.
I don't handle excessive heat any better than I do too much overcast/grey weather, so last week was not particularly productive. Again. But I decided on the weekend that I'm just going to have to suck it up. August is just starting and I'm sure the heat is going to extend into September, and I can't afford to keep wasting time like I've been doing. Life is too short.
The week ahead is going to be ... challenging. After much searching, the daughter finally found a job. That's the good news. The bad news is, her hours and her husband's hours over lap so they need someone to baby sit during the day. Namely, me.
On the one hand, I get to spend time with the granddaughter every day. On the other hand, I've already fallen behind in the transcribing and a three hour chunk out of my day isn't going to help matters. So again, no more wasting time, and I'll have to re-arrange my schedule to fit all the other stuff I do around the baby sitting. Easy peasy.
So ... the weekend did not go as I had planned, but then when does it ever?
See, a while back I started writing the first book of a new trilogy. It's kind of cool really, the three books are connected by a common event that takes place at the very beginning of each one, but then the three stories are very different from that point on. Then, at the very end, there'll be a short story (included in all three of them) that connects them back up.
Anyway, I'm about halfway through the first book and the time line really isn't working. Things that should be happening faster are going too slowly, and things that should be happening slowly are happening too fast. At first I thought I could just push through it and fix it later, but I think I'm only making matters worse. Hence the need to fix it.
So I was sitting at my lap top Saturday morning, checking my email and Facebook before I got down to work ... and I got distracted. Big surprise there, eh? Someone posted one of those smarmy inspirational messages embedded in a picture, and it made me think of one of my nieces who's having a rough time right now, and I thought it might be nice to print off a bunch of these smarmy pictures and put them in a little album to send to her to cheer her up.
And there I was, merrily searching for and saving these inspirational messages, when out on the lawn there arose such a clatter ... oops, wrong story. Had the sound been on for my lap top though, I'm sure I would have heard all kinds of bells and whistles, but as it was, a bunch of security windows popped up and then I got a message that my security had been compromised and my personal information was in danger of being hacked.
So I did what any right thinking person would do - went into full panic mode and shut my lap top off.
Or at least I tried to. Problem was, Microsoft had 17 updates it wanted to install first. We'll get back to that in a moment, the salient point here is that it took 1 1/2 hours to shut down. The internet has to be turned on manually when I start up the lap top, and I figured I really should do a virus scan before I connect to the internet, just in case.
It took 3 1/2 hours to complete, and it didn't find anything. And then I couldn't remember the last time I backed up my system and figured it might be a good idea to do so and that pretty much took the rest of Saturday.
Now, back to this Microsoft thing.
An hour and a half seems kind of excessive when it comes to shutting things down, and that wasn't the first time it'd happened lately either. Earlier in the week I'd whined complained mentioned to a friend about how I was having problems with Microsoft Word, enough so that I was thinking of trying to re-install the program, and she told me a lot of people were having the same problem because of all the updates Microsoft was flooding us with in preparation for the launch of Windows 10.
Colour me unamused!
One of my pet peeves with Microsoft is how they're continually changing their programs and we're forced to continually upgrade. It's just not right. At the very least we should be offered a discount for the latest version of a program we've already spent a great deal of money on, but we're not.
And the really irritating part is, half the time the new versions don't even work right. Anyone remember Windows Vista? And heaven forbid you should have to get a new computer because you won't be getting it with one of the older versions of Windows that actually work. No, you'll get the latest version whether you want it or not.
I don't know about you, but I'll be taking very good care of my lap top with its Windows 7 and its Microsoft Office 7.
And when it does go, maybe I'll be taking a bite out of Apple instead.
Well, I'm finally on the new medication, and not a moment too soon. Last week the tiredness and lack of focus reached epic proportions. It was very frustrating. But I saw the nurse practitioner on Friday and the first thing she told me was my blood sugar was up. Gee, do you think?
But it meant she had a green light to prescribe the new medication and went over all the side effects with me. Several of them are the same as I experience with Diabetes anyway and so far I haven't really experienced any others, but I'm starting out on a low dose so that may change next month when they put me on the full dose. And many people don't experience any side effects at all, so maybe I'll be one of the lucky ones.
In the meantime, even after only two doses my glucose level has come down. I'm hoping it'll continue to come down so I can be back to normal. Well, as normal as I ever am. ;-)
Summer has definitely arrived. We've even had the air conditioners on a couple of times. And yesterday it was so hot I skipped my workout on the bike. I didn't know if I was feeling slightly queasy from the new medication or the heat, but it seemed like a good excuse to be lazy.
After a cool week last week we had a jump in temperature early Saturday morning and it's supposed to stay that way for the foreseeable future. Heat I'm okay with, it's the humidity that bothers me and it's been very damp here.
And apparently the magic bubble that protects our town from snow in the winter is also protecting us from the thunderstorms we should be having with these wild fluctuations in temperature. But no, I watched the radar images on the Weather Network and the storms pass north of us and south of us but leave a swath in the middle where we are. Not fair!
Sad to say my coyote friends seem to have moved on. We've only heard them once in the last several days and at suppertime last night we saw some black squirrels playing chase out by the pond. The squirrels had been making themselves scarce the last few weeks. We could have days go by without seeing one. I saw a couple of grey squirrels yesterday too. They wouldn't be so brave if the coyotes were still around.
And another sign the coyotes have gone was these little guys:
It's been a long time since a rabbit ventured into our backyard. But believe it or not, I've never seen two at once. These guys must be young still because they were having a ball playing chase and hopping straight up into the air. Of course then one of them had to spoil it all by helping himself to the buds off one of my roses, but they slipped under the fence into my next door neighbour's garden like it was a story from Peter Cottontail.
This week is probably not going to be a productive one, but it will be busy.
First we have my sister coming to visit today, and spending the night. She may or may not be accompanied by a couple of her grandkids. We're supposed to go to the movies tonight and then she's leaving on Tuesday.
Then Wednesday is an even I'm sure everyone has been looking forward to. The premiere of Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!
Space Channel has been running all kinds of shark movies, including the Mega Shark series. And in a scene that could have been taken right from Jaws, just a couple of days ago a surfer was attacked by a great white shark. Because this was part of a competition, they whole thing was caught on tape. You can see the video and read the article HERE.
Thursday I'm taking the day off (whether I deserve it or not) and heading off to the casino. Just one of those things I gotta do. ;-)
And then, to nicely round off my week, on Saturday night we have a new disaster of a movie, Lavalantula!
Can't wait until Saturday to see this gem? No problem! Just got to YouTube and type Lavalantula in the search bar and you'll get several options for the entire movie.
I've definitely stopped binging on the books. As fun as it is, I can't keep it up forever - real life has a way of intruding. ;-)
You know, I really have to start writing down the names of the books as I start reading them on the Kindle. My memory is sketchy at best and I don't keep them unless I really, really think I might read them again. So then, when it comes time to do this post I can't remember what I've read.
So I read a short book that I thought was a Y/A and turned out the point of the story was for the main character to hook up with her stepbrother. Then I read about two pages of what I thought was erotica but turned out to be bad porn. Next was a period piece called Under the Mistletoe (I think) which was actually quite good, followed by a vampire story that really wasn't.
Meanwhile I finished The Zombie, the Cat, and Barack Obama by Christopher Antony Meade. It wasn't exactly bad, but it just wasn't my cup of tea. It was a little wordy, like it was trying too hard, and some of the parts that were supposed to be funny ... weren't. You know how sometimes you watch a movie that's so bad it's good? This wasn't like that.
Currently I'm reading book one of a two book set called The Last Sunset by Frank Montgomery. It's a science fiction set in 2040, about a lawyer named Darius who would do anything to get his wife and unborn child off the planet before a meteor hits the Earth. He succeeds in getting her a seat on one of the shuttles headed for the moon base, but he could only get one ticket so he stays behind. He takes refuge in a mini bus filled with supplies that he parks in an underground parking structure when the meteor hits. I've just got to the part where he ventures out of the shelter for the first time in two weeks. I normally like disaster books, but this one is kind of ... meh. Maybe it's because I can't quite like the main character, Darius, who's somewhat of a shifty lawyer. But I'll probably keep reading, for a while at least, to see if he redeems himself.
Slowed right down to a crawl here.
I've been slowly plugging away at From the Dark by Michele Hauf. I'm still not very far into it, but I do like the two main characters and the way they interact with each other. It'll be interesting to see what happens when he finds out she's a witch and she finds out he's a vampire. :-)
I have finished exactly one story in Liavek, edited by Will Shetterly and Emma Bull. This is a swords and sorcery fantasy with the stories taking place in the exotic city of Liavek, which is the central theme that ties them all together.
It was so quiet that I'm sitting here, Sunday night, trying to think of something to talk about and I've got nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch.
See, here's the thing. I have Type II Diabetes and I'm in the process of changing to a new medication. But apparently first I need the old medication totally out of my system. So while this is going on my glucose levels have been steadily rising and among other things it's making me incredibly tired.
Fortunately I'll be on the new medication by the end of the week, but in the meantime I've been suffering from tiredness of epic proportions which makes it hard to get anything done. So I've been pretty much doing only what's necessary the last couple of weeks, no time for extras.
The weather has finally become more summer-like, we even had the air conditioner going on the weekend. The hubby's been in the pool almost every night - despite the fact the warmest the water's been is 74 F.
***more thinking***trying not to pull a brain muscle here***
Okay, here's what a dust bowl my brain is right now. I just asked hubby's advice on what I should write about in this post. His reply: Talk about your fractured fairy tales. Good idea!
Saturday I had my first solo flight at babysitting the grandbaby. This girl loves to be talked to and I thought what better way than to tell her a story. So rather than go down to her room and get one of her many books, I decided to just tell her a story or two. I'm a writer, right? How hard could it be to tell her one of the fairy tales I learned as a child.
Pretty hard, as it turns out.
I started out with Goldilocks and the Three Bears, and a more convoluted, politically incorrect tale you would have never heard. I had to keep back tracking to add details and I cast aspersions on Goldilock's character in general. And also, the bears weren't all that bright if they went for a walk leaving their front door unlocked.
Then I tried Cinderella. Everyone one loves Cinderella, right? Well, her step family didn't love her. Apparently I didn't either. My version of the story was some kind of weird amalgamation of the Disney version and the Grimm's version. Not as much back tracking but I did question the prince's intelligence, if not his eyesight, if he couldn't tell Cinderella was his true love without her foot fitting into the glass slipper. And think of the blisters a shoe made of glass would give you!
One of the granddaughter's favorite toys these days is a frog, so I finished up with a rendition of the Frog Prince. Or is that Princess? I got the princess playing with her golden ball right, but she lost it down a well instead of a fountain. And then I was kind of sketchy on the deal she made with the frog. I remembered the king forcing his daughter to honour her side of the bargain, and I remembered she was really mean to the poor frog, and then I kind of skipped ahead to him turning back into a prince although I pointed out there was no way these two ended up married because first, she was really mean and broke her word, and second, she must have been a little girl (playing with her ball) which would have made it just plain creepy.
My poor granddaughter is going to be scarred for life by the time I get done with her. :-D
My binge reading seems to be tapering off and I'm settling in to a nice, steady reading pace. Maybe it has something to do with running out of new Lynsay Sands books to read. But whatever the reason, I'm back to a nice, normal, two or three books a week again. :-D
I'm still working on the boxed set of Looking For Love, by Rita Herron. I finished the first book Husband Hunting 101, and the second one, Here Comes the Bride, but I'm having trouble getting into the third one, Under the Covers.
Here Comes the Bride was just as hard to put down as Husband Hunting 101.
The story starts out with identical twins, Kimberly and Marci who are are totally different in every other respect. So when Marci coerces Kimberly to do a 'twin switch' with her to pose as a hunky architect's fiancée and go home with him for a friend's wedding, Kimberly's not sure she can pull it off. I won't say much more to avoid spoilers, but it was another great read.
Under the Covers is about a marriage counselor whose book on marriage advice has just made the best seller list as a sex guide. The man she thought she was married to (turns out the preacher wasn't licensed) has just run off with another man, and she becomes involved with a reporter who's looking to make a name for himself by proving her to be a fraud. I haven't given up on this one yet, given that I enjoyed the other two so much, but the idea of this guy hooking up with her to seek revenge (he blames her for the break-up of his marriage) just doesn't float my boat.
So in the meantime, I've started reading The Zombie, the Cat, and Barack Obama by Christopher Antony Meade. I'm not too far into this book, but so far it's pretty funny and puts me in mind of Beers in Heaven by the irreverent Ford Forkum. We've met the cat and the zombie (who wants to try for a spot on Britain's Got Talent), I can't wait to see how Barack Obama fits into all this.
Only a slight binge here this week. I ran out of Lynsay Sands and Kerrelyn Sparks books to read, but found a couple of Katie MacAlister books on my to-be-read bookcase. I think the thing I like best about her books, aside from the steamy sex and humour, is that her heroines are real women. They're not perfect - they have a few extra pounds, they speak without thinking, they even have some pretty obvious flaws. They're probably the most realistic characters I've ever read.
Ain't Myth-behaving is actually two books in one. First we have Stag Party which surprised me by being from the man's point of view. Dane Hearne (aka the Irish god Cernunnos) needs to find a bride, and fast. He needs to be married by Beltane, which is a week away, and his old goddess has run off with a salsa dancer. He's found the perfect woman in travel writer Megan St. Clair, but can he convince her in time? This book is fast paced and hilarious, and Dane is forever spouting lines that would be insanely cheesey under any other circumstances. I couldn't read it fast enough.
The second book was Norse Truly, about a group of Vikings who are forced to forever sail the same stretch of coastline unless they can find a way break their curse. Enter Brynna who's in Sweden visiting relatives. It turns out that not only is her great-great (great) grandmother the one who laid the curse on Alrik and his men, but Brynna is a hereditary Valkyrie. Brynna becomes their last, best hope for leaving the earthly plane and going to Valhalla. But Brynna's fallen in love with the hunky Viking Alrik and dreads the thought of facing the future without him, which is what will happen if she breaks the curse.
I couldn't stop there and the next book I wolfed down was It's All Greek to Me, also by Katie MacAlister. I really loved the heroine, Harry, in this book. She has a temper and she's not afraid to defend herself, not even against the brother of the hunky Greek billionaire playboy whose house she's staying in while she runs herd on the band who're there to perform for a birthday party. She's actually a writer, but she's watching the band as a favour to a friend. I loved the chemistry between her and Iakovos, right from the start, and how she wasn't afraid to act on it. I loved the way she kept deliberately mispronouncing his last name, and I loved the way she never played coy, she always said exactly what she thought. She just might be one of my favourite characters of all time.
Next I decided to start working on the 20 or so unread Silhouette Nocturnes I have my shelf. I'm starting with From the Dark by Michele Hauf, but I haven't got very far into it yet. All I know is that it's about a vampire.
Once upon a time, Silhouette had a series called Silhouette Shadows, which were paranormal romances, and the first category romances I ever subscribed to. The series was up to about #66, I think, when Silhouette was bought out by Harlequin. I guess Harlequin didn't realize how popular paranormal romance had become, because they axed the series. Then, realizing their mistake, they started the Dreamscape series, which was pretty much the Silhouette Shadows re-released under the new banner with new covers. I guess I wasn't the only outraged fan, because the series didn't last long. Shortly after that, we were presented with Silhouette Nocturne, which was just what we readers were waiting for.
I started re-reading an anthology called Liavek, edited by Will Shetterly and Emma Bull. This is a swords and sorcery fantasy with the stories taking place in the exotic city of Liavek. And I have to admit I haven't even made it through the first story yet, but I'm sure it won't take me long to pick up the pace.
Did everyone have a good holiday, no matter which side of the lake you're on?
Our town celebrates with a four-day arts and crafts festival, which encompasses the weekend. There's usually a parade on July 1st with an impressive display of fireworks on the beach at night.
At one time the festival was free, although I vaguely remember one of the service clubs passing around a hat at the beach during the fireworks. But as it grew over the years, slowly but surely it became more commercialized until last year when we were charged admission even to wander amongst the vendors who set up their wares amongst the trees in front of the bandshell. I'm sure if they thought they could have got away with it they'd be charging admission to the fireworks themselves.
I used to go to the festival every year, a couple of times I even paid to go into the crafts enclosure down at the harbour. If nothing else I'd go down and have a look at the paintings in the art tents which were, surprisingly, free. But once they started charging a fee to get in to see the regular vendors ... well, that was it for me. This year they didn't even have the art tents because the price they charged for the booths was so high there weren't enough artists ready to take the chance that they'd make their money back.
We haven't even been going down to the fireworks these last few years, but I'm sure that'll change once the Granddaughter is a little older. :-D
I don't know if you're aware of it, but my buddy Jamie DeBree is writing three serial stories simultaneously. Actually, she's writing six, and if you sign up for her newsletter you'll get new installments emailed to you each month, but her blog stories are updated each Friday. They are: Live With Me, in which calm, cool, Candace is trying way too hard to resist the hunk she had a crush on in high school when his mother tricks her into giving him a place to stay so he can recuperate from a sports injury. Or if that's a little too tame for you, there's Double Blind, where Emily is offered the chance for double her pleasure, blindfolded, by two men at sea. And for something completely different, there's Dry Rain, a terrifying tale of nature gone wrong.
And one of the coolest things about these serials, aside from the stories themselves, is that if you've missed an episode or need to get caught up, you can just email Jamie and let her know. She'll take care of it. :-)
Dry Rain really creeps me out, especially since we once had a moth infestation in our house. And the only thing worse than those damnable moths that got into everything were their larva. Ugh! But that's the nature of insects, isn't it? And Jamie's story is made all the worse by the thought that maybe something like this could happen. The planet is changing, and mother nature is fighting back.
I'm not just talking about the obvious changes, like the change in weather patterns, the melting of the polar ice caps, fires, floods, and earthquakes. I'm talking about the little changes, like the coyotes moving into our neighborhood, or the migration of insects.
When I was a kid we used to go up north to Owen Sound quite a lot. One of the things they had up there that we didn't, was earwigs. Here's what they look like:
Apparently it's just an old wives tale that they got their name from burrowing into people's ears, although there have been cases where they've been found in a person's ear canal. But slowly the earwigs started moving south and they've been the scourge of our household just as they'd been my aunt's. Here's the thing though. As the earwigs became more numerous in our area, they began disappearing from my aunt's area. Coincidence? Or are they just better at dealing with them?
And is it just me, or are the spiders getting bigger and more numerous?
A few weeks ago the hubby and I noticed we'd gotten bites we'd never had before. They kind of looked like mosquito bites, but they were red and raised a welt, and they were still there a couple of weeks later. We suspect they might be black fly bites, but we've never had black flies in our area before, you have to go further north for them. Looks like the black flies are moving in.
Now. Go read Jamie's story and get ready for the moth infestation. ;-)
Holy moley it's been a while, hasn't it? About six months, if anyone's been keeping track.
The thing about doing posts about what I'm reading is that they only work if I'm actually reading. I went through a prolonged dry spell for the first part of the year and while I've been doing more reading lately, I've also been pretty busy and I just haven't got around to doing a blog post about it.
Ready? Then here we go ...
Two books to report here this week. There would have been more but I'm not going to waste space on the two books I deleted just a couple of pages in, and there was another one that I did read, but I can't remember what it is.
One book I read, and thoroughly enjoyed, was The Obituary Society by Jessica Randall. Lila Moore just wants to fit in somewhere and when she inherits her grandfather's house she has hopes that she's found herself a home. But though the small town is full of people who knew her family and are happy she's there, there are some dark secrets and a lot of strange goings on. Part mystery and part horror with a dash of romance, this book has a fast moving plot and great characters. And as a bonus, the author includes a couple of the coveted recipes mentioned in the story.
Currently I'm reading a boxed set, called Looking For Love, by Rita Herron. The first book is called Husband Hunting 101, the story of commitment phobic Zachery who's finding it hard to resist Jenna, his new advertising client who's made it plain she's ready to settle down and get married. I'm really enjoying the interaction between these two and I'm pretty sure it's not going to take me long to finish it.
I kind of went on a binge here. First I came into possession of a couple of boxes of science fiction books and I had a hard time resisting diving right in. Amongst the other treasures I acquired were the Catteni Books by Anne McCaffrey. Freedom's Landing, Freedom's Choice, Freedom's Challenge, and Freedom's Ransom tell the tale of Kris Bjornsen and the Catteni Emasi Zainal as they're dropped, with a few hundred others, mostly humans, on a distant world where they struggle to survive. Not only do they survive, they thrive, and eventually win their freedom from the Eosi oppression. This is science fiction at its best and if you enjoy tales of survival, you don't want to miss these books. Unfortunately, they're not available in e-format, you'll have to scour the used bookstores for them - they're definitely worth the search.
After my sci fi binge, I went on a vampire binge. Specifically, Lynsay Sands' Argeneau vampires. In short order I read, One Lucky Vampire, Hungry For You, and Born to Bite. There's like 22 books in this series now, and I'm pretty sure I have them all. They're funny, hot, and exciting. And did I mention that one bite will turn you 25 forever?
I followed these up with How to Seduce a Vampire (Without Really Trying) by Kerrelyn Sparks. Though her vampires are a little more traditional, they're still yummy. The saddest thing about this book is the notification at the end that she's going to take a hiatus from the series. Hopefully it won't be for long.
You'd think with all the other reading I have (I cleaned up my to-be-read bookcases and found a vast number of treasures there) I wouldn't have time for re-reading, but such is not the case. Just this week I reread Sun in Glory by Mercedes Lackey. This is a book of stories from her land of Valdemar. Technically I guess you could call it fan fiction, because of the 13 stories only one is written by Ms. Lackey. And it's just as good the second time around.
Well the big news last week was the ruling of the Supreme Court in the U.S. that same sex marriage is legal in every state now. A whole garden of rainbows sprang up over Facebook with people showing their support.
I don't normally mention stuff that's in the news but aside from the fact it's refreshing to see a legal system doing the right thing for a change, I really got a chuckle out of the reaction of those who weren't please by the court's decision. You know, all those people who threatened to move to Canada over this.
As a Canadian, I'd like to say two things. First, we don't want you. We're an easy going bunch and we need neither you nor your vitriol opinions messing with our peace and quiet. And second, duh! Where do you think all those gay Americans have been going to get legally married? That's right. Canada. Same sex marriages have been legal in Canada for years now, and we're okay with that. So go invade some other unsuspecting country ... if they'll have you.
June is almost over and it was cold enough on the weekend that I wore socks to bed. The hubby's got the pool uncovered and almost clean, but I shudder to think what the temperature of the water is. And have I mentioned the excessive amount of rain we've been getting? The animals are starting to line up two by two.
So ... Saturday night we ended up watching not one, but two really bad movies. With the popularity of Sharknado, with Ian Ziering, there's been a rash of bad movies starring one or two former celebrities to attract notice. Sharknado was awesome in its cheesiness, the movies we watched ... were not.
Earth vs. Volcano starred Dean Cain, who really should have known better. He played a passenger on an airplane who ends up taking over when both the pilot and co-pilot are killed as they're trying to navigate through a ring of volcanoes that appeared out of nowhere. ***Spoiler alert*** He dies in the end, taking what's left of his career with him.
Asteroid vs. Earth was even worse. This one featured Tia Carrere, you know, from Relic Hunter? She's kind of shanghaied into helping with the plan to move the planet Earth out of the way of an approaching asteroid. Honestly? She should have stuck to hunting relics. Two hours for each movie; four hours of my life I'll never get back.
In case you missed it, I did my fourth blog post in a row on my writing blog. This is getting to be a habit! It was kind of funny, really. I had intended to make notes on some of the books I've read recently so I could update my Goodreads bookshelf, but I ended up writing the blog post instead.
This week should be interesting, what with two holidays and all. We have Canada Day on Wednesday and the American Independence Day on Saturday. Altogether now, hold up your flags!