Monday, December 14, 2009


We jam packed the good times in last week, I tell you.
The Good Lovelies rocked the Vasey Church. In the sweetest way possible. Scott Cooper and family hosted and it had a very cozy, famdamly vibe. Scott played Porter Wagoner's Satisfied Mind which is maybe one of the best songs ever. And we all sang along to Silent Night. Robert Munsch has a book called Purple, Green and Yellow and at one point the heroine, Brigid, gets a pack of SuperDuperNeverComeOffUntilYourDeadAndMaybeEvenLaterIndelible Markers. When she uses them to draw, she draws roses that look more like roses than roses. Everything looks too good to be true. That's how the Lovelies sounded. Lush and smooth. It didn't hurt that we were in the front row and catching a lot of their live sound too.
The next morning it snowed and blowed like the begeezus.
SalGal's holiday concert was everything a concert of tiny people should be. Sweet, exuberant, slightly chaotic, not too long. She continues to regale us with "Give peace a chance, Baby!" and Silent Night at the top of her lungs. I attempted a few carols on the piano today. I quite butchered them, but the kids didn't seem to mind.
I headed up to my mom's on Friday and spent the day out in the freezing, snowy woods, cracking down old sumac trees and dragging them home to help build a palisade around the old barn ruin for Willy's wedding. It looks pretty wild and gorgeous. Mom made homeade bread and killer minestrone for lunch. The girlies played tea parties. A great day.
We had the cousins over on Friday night and the kids just rolled around the house in waves of play. "Let's play spies!" They all play spies. "Let's draw!" They all draw.
Saturday and Sunday were days of a thousand things, reconnecting with old friends and family, eating and drinkin and eating and drinking some more!!
Come evening, we found ourselves singing along once again, this time to White Christmas with my friend Phil. Everyone was packed into the house, cheek by jowl, standing in the hallway, sitting up the stairs. He has been singing for over a decade but this was my first time hearing him. It was worth the wait. We used to work together at the record store and we must have listened to Vince Guaraldi's A Charlie Brown Christmas CD about 500 times. But when he sang Christmastime is Here, it felt fresh and sweet all over again.
So, let the damn roof leak. (yes, it really is. yes, the brand new one.) I'm going to keep on singing.

Monday, December 7, 2009

ghosts of christmas

In the midst of mad wrapping and procrastinating about writing my cards, Pip's lovely christmassy post inspired many Christmas memories for me.
I have a lot of of happy Christmas TV memories. Which seems a little pathetic. But there we were, all together, watching. I felt safe and connected. One Christmas day, West Side Story was on the air. I think I was about 11. The opening credits were a little boring but mom told me that she loved it, so I kept watching. It floored me: the music, dancing, the epic tragedy. I still love watching it around Christmas time and am kicking myself for not getting down to see the Startford production this summer - I heard it was pretty great.
Maybe it was this same Christmas, or maybe it was another but I remember sitting and watching TV for hours curled up with my mom. It felt like such a treat. There was some strange Muppety special on about a Frog prince. The princess was enchanted and couldn't talk properly: "Break the hall in the candle of her brain!" Does anyone else remember this?There is still something luxurious and wonderful to me about sitting down to watch 2 or 3 movies in a row.
I also remember sitting around by the tree with my whole family one year, listening to the radio. It was Stuart McLean's Vinyl Cafe. The first time I ever heard it. We laughed until our guts ached.
I could write a book about Christmas food memories. I will be sad to miss Christmas pudding with whiskey sauce this year.
We are going to be away from home for Christmas this year, with Smith's family. But we are going to have one humdinger of a party to celebrate my little bro's wedding on the Winter Solstice, so we will be getting our merrymerry on here before we depart. Bonfire, vows in the snow, lamb, sangria -can't wait!
I am very excited to go and see The Good Lovelies and Scott Cooper tomorrow night. I should bring a big box of kleenex as I am sure it will conjure up memories of the last time I went to see them with Pip. We laughed like loons and cried like babies.
I haven't been listening to anything except Sufjan Stevens lately. Mysteriously, the copy of Come on Feel the Illinoise that Greg and Meighan gave us has stopped skipping - hurray! And we currently have his Christmas set of 5 EPs on shuffle in the stereo. He does a very sweet version of Lo How a Rose E'r Blooming. I love that song. I guess I should shake things us a little but I can't seem to find my Bing Crosby xmas disc or my Weinachten mit Heinjie! Xmas just ain't the same without Heintjie singing "Kling, glocken,klingalingaling!!!!!". I'll bet the Lovelies do a wicked version of MeleKelikimaka....
I should be knitting. Ay, the push is on, to complete last minute gifts. I am trying to be kind to myself and not start any projects that I can't finish in a day or two. But I keep finding such cute things on Ravelry and Knitty. Must. Not. Look.
My reading lately has been mostly limited to Anna Karenina. I love it and I refuse to rush it. With Jack, I am reading The Winter Drey, book two in the excellent Trilogy of the Tree by Sean Dixon. It's funny and strange and sweet, based on Norse myths and history. Jack is loving it, but he wondered: "How did he (the author) think of all of those crazy names like Snorre and Trondheim and Norway?" Crazy old Norway. We seem to be all about beautiful wintery books these days. Any suggestions for your favourite book about winter or favourite book to read during the winter. I cancelled our daily Globe subscription. It was a big commitment and I was starting to feel like I should get up earlier just so that I could get through the paper. I am missing it a little but am also slightly relieved. Although I am back to living under a rock status. What's happening out there in the big ol world?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

keeping up

I am still reading like crazy but it has been a jam packed month in other ways as well. I planned and executed Jack's 7th BDay party - Jedi Training camp! , cooked a turkey for Thanksgiving, made a pilgrimage to L.M. Montgomery's home in Leaskdale with my mom and took my in-laws out to see the Sound of Music. I also had a hard stint of knitting in there. It's all or nothing with the knitting - I find it so hard to put down once I'm in the groove. Also, I joined Ravelry, which is a fantastic knitting networking site. Very dangerous.
Smith and the kids brought me breakfast in bed this morning which was the best lemon meringue pie I have ever eaten, from The Lemon Tree Bakery. Wow. Crisp, sweet toasted meringue, creamy lemon filling, crisp short crust. Wow.
I should be out there planting bulbs this morning - purple crocuses and pink tulips, but it is damp and I am feeling a little blah. Speaking of which I think I am going to go and get the kids and myself vaccinated against H1N1 this week. Severe cases are so swift and unpredictable - it seems prudent to vaccinate, for ourselves and others.
I also borrowed my mom's sewing machine and am eager to get started on some curtains and a few sweet dresses for Sal.
And somewhere in all of this, I'm trying to squeak in some time for writing.
Right now, thought, I think I will go and have another piece of that pie. Wow.

Monday, September 21, 2009

what i'm reading

I have been reading The Tale of Desperaux by Kate DiCamillo out loud with Jack. We finished it last night. At a very high-stakes, emotional point in the story, the princess puts her hand over her heart. She is preparing to forgive a rat. Jack's hand moved involuntarily over his own little heart. When Mig was reunited with her father, he gave a happy little clap. "Well, I hope she's written more books because that was the best book I've ever read."

Reading with Jack is one of my favourite things in the world, ever.

We are going to read The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, also by Miss DiCamillo, next.

Speaking of reading, I am also going to try to use this blog to keep track of... well, everything. But especially reading. I know there are whole websites for this sort of thing and I might around to that sometime soon but I'm going to start here.
Sooo, this week I am consuming (like a fire! I am on fire! Reading books like a crazy lady!), the following books:

  • Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Market 2007, pub. by Writer's Digest
  • The Encylclopedia of Writing andIllustrating Children's Books by McCannon, Thornton and Williams, pub. by Running Press, 2008
  • Back Roads of Ontario Map Book (pub?). I love maps. Very much.
Children's Novels
  • The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
  • Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo (she is so amazing)
  • A Kind and Gentle Knight by Kit Pearson. Great great great.
Picture Books
  • Good Night Sam by Marie-Louise Gay. I love Marie-Louise Gay. Their house is always a little bit messy, because they are busy being kids and I find this very endearing.
  • Pirates Don't Change Diapers by Melinda Long and David Shannon
  • Skippyjon Jones by Judy Schachner
  • Please, Louise by Frieda Wishinsky and Marie-Louise Gay, pub. by Groundwood: well, here is the book I would like to write about Jack and Sal - it has a great twist at the end.
  • The Trailer Park Princesses by Pete Marlow and Leanne Franson pub. by Annick Press
  • Some Birthday! by Patricia Polacco
  • The Art Room by Susan Van de Griek and Pacsal Milelli: about children taking art classes from Emily Carr: Last line/page: "and then went out to see/ with eyes that were wide." Lovely. Reading this with Jack, he said: "I looove these pictures. I wish she could give me art lessons."
  • Hello Twins by Charlotte Voake pub. by Candlewick. I love Charlotte Voake's Ginger books. So happy to find this one. Another great brother and sister book.

I also have some grown up novels that I'm dying to take a crack at when I have a minute: A Little Stranger by Sarah Waters and The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

living under a rock

I have a confession to make. It has been weeks since I watched or listened to a newscast. You might be kind and imagine that I am getting all of my news of the world from online sources. Or perhaps you assume that I have been reading the newspaper. But, dear reader, this is just not the case. When I am online I am in the tiny soundbite world of Facebook or deep in knitting or writerly blogs. My television time is strictly DVD these days. I gave up several hours of my life last week to Absolutely Fabulous, which I had never seen before and am now totally besotted with. I want to marry Jennifer Saunders and her genius for physical comedy and cringeworthy-yet-lovable characters. But I digress (as usual). I have read a big pile of fiction in the last month and several gorgeous essays and am currently trying to read as many award-winning children's novels as I can lay my hands on. When I am in the car I have been listening to The Good Lovelies and The Weakerthans. I am starting to feel downright irresponsible. Not about listening to fantastic Canadian bands and reading well-crafted children's novels - gosh, that seems rather wholesome, doesn't it? - but about my lack of interest in the greater world. When I say greater, I mean the world outside of my personal sphere of influence.
The next book on my shelf is Thoreau's Walden. My dad loves this book and I have never read it. I'm sure he will have something to say about this sort of thing.
Maybe I will simplify and cleanse during this coming week: bread, water, Thoreau, walks in the forest, paper and pencil only. And the radio tuned to CBC.

(Hmmmm. This is feeling very Bridget Jonesy. Stay tuned for posts about how many times I've checked my Facebook, how many gin and tonics I've consumed, how many home decorating magazines I have "flipped through" and how many episode of Ab FAb Volume 2 I have watched-probably all.)

p.s. sept 21st - facebook: about 50 times, no g & t but large quantities of pie and froot loops and sorry mr. thoreau, i have not cracked Walden once. news: not even going to go there.. but i did subscribe to the Globe and Mail! For which I was admonished to never answer the phone when i am home alone again.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

many hats

I was going to title this post too many hats but I removed the too because I think I handle the many.
So, if anybody is still out there reading this, I am back on again. It's the back-to-school effect. Back on the blog wagon.
After a long, rich summer of travels, nuptuals and hello-agains and farewells (too many farewells for my liking) I feel shook out and ready for some shape and routine.
The kids were delighted to head back to school. They were on Tuesday, anyway. But this morning Sal pitched a fit and reawakened some of my old guilty feelings about full time daycare for her.
I am supply teaching again this year but am relieved to not feel guilt about not doing that full time. According to our accountant, I worked exactly the right amount last year to maximize my financial input for this household. Armed with that, I feel more confidant to plan out a life that includes time for the work I really want to be doing: writing. (Colon or semi-colon there? Help, please.)
Of course, there are still all of the other realms that I am a part of too: mothering, accounting (badly), keeping house, cooking, gardening and making things and hanging out friends and family. I am trying to be pickier about who and what gets my time, which is not easy for me.
I can't wait to start my Nia class again next week and have been entertaining the thought of running again. Well, I have invited this thought over for tea and we have been tossing dates back and forth but have yet to really make it happen.
My house is full of peaches and pears, ripening like so many good intentions. And fruit flies, hovering, like so many doubts and excuses.
Jam will be made, dammit!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

to do list-jan 18, 2009

1. write and illustrate a children's book
2. bake more bread
3. play piano daily
4. make plans to hike the west coast trail
5. make plans to spend my 40th birthday in France
6. tobaggan more often. i love it.
7. start running again.
8. be more gooder.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

drawn to the cheeses of kittyness

I tried bobealia's meme with the fd mosaic maker. Fun. I like the top half best. The bottom half descended into some silliness. It is in fact a fairly accurate visual map of my brain, now that I think about it.

i shirk work

like everyone i am in denial about getting back to work after the holidays. my hiatus from work was extra long as i spend most of november working on the house. shifting gears is painful. i can't get up and put on my filthy work clothes. again. i actually might have to iron something soon. and i have to blow dry my hair. i don't think i was cut out for working away from home.
perhaps it is time to finally pursue my lifelong dream to wrtie and illustrate children's books. although we do have some bills to pay. guess i will just have to get out the shoe polish and suck it up. i guess the good news is that i am not covered in drywall dust or unnameable demolition garbage. my back and knees do not ache (too badly) and i can feel the ends of my fingertips.
today googirl is extra gooey with a cold so i am home sweet home after a nice and easy half day out in the trenches. the sun is shining which makes everything seem so very fine. the house is quiet except for the tippy tap of keyboards, upstairs and down. i might start to purr...

Sunday, January 4, 2009

imagine the sound of a cassette tape on fast forward

mixed in with the sounds of drills, falling rubble, concrete setting, dust flying, snow lashing the windows, wood warping in the chilly house, lonesome and dark. (do lonesome and dark have a sound?). fast forward again with more banging and sawing and hemming and hawing and toes warming in cold upstairses where i grew up and stews stewing and sanding, sanding, sanding , sanding, sanding, sanding, then much vacumming and gathering up of stuff. Ding, dang, dong - we're BACK! back in the darned ol, fabulous new house.
yeah, i stayed away from the blog a long time. i think it was fear of pretentiousness, fear of this becoming a blog about The Reno That Ate My Brain.
also, lack of high speed internet.
and heck, i was busy!
well, that' s over.

blog post subjects under consideration:
  • are my kids watching too much tv? (answer: yes)
  • groups/families - mine
  • boxing kangaroo pens
  • road trips i would like to take (this subject inspired by boxing kangaroo pens)
  • window coverings of my life, past and present
  • fear
  • education
  • fear of education
  • all-terrain vehicles i would prefer my neighbour didn't own
  • how i should spend the next ten years of my life
  • how to be good (nick hornby already wrote a book about this that i didn't like very much but maybe i need to read it again, now that i'm a little older)