Thursday, June 30, 2011

Wet, cold gray. Warm, cold, gray.

Maybe we haven't broken a lot of rain records this year, but it has been truly dreary. It is good for my man since he works in the elements, and not being baked to a crisp is a good thing, but I would love to have even a few more sunny hours to enjoy outside. I do like the drama of stormy clouds clashing in different shades, and then intermittent rain showers... but really, it has been so ongoing, it is getting to be an old soundtrack.

I am so grateful it is a long weekend - I am planning to stay in bed late tomorrow.. of course in the world with 2 kids under five, working full-time late now means sometime around 8 o'clock. Kind of like 10 at night is like the new 2 am. I saw Bridesmaids with a friend tonight, and well, the romantic thread was good, and it was funny (at times, I did laugh out loud) but there was a comical edge to it - almost farcical where edges were pushed to not quite so funny anymore, I am feeling a little uncomfortable here... It was decent, IMHO, but not OH MY GOD I HAVE TO SEE IT AGAIN. That being said, I had a few flashbacks to when I was young, and when Wilson Phillips played, I thought of one of my dearest girlfriends, and driving in her car when we were 18, ready to conquer the world.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Good doesn't always mean an easy read

Another classic novel that I have been curious about... Indeed this was a good novel, and a different take on Chinese culture and society than others that I have read (Snow Flower, Bonesetter's Daughter, Jade Peony to name but a few). It is simply written, and although it doesn't specify the timeframe, this is early twentieth century as revolutions begin to happen.

This is the story of a farmer, Wang Lung, and his family. Starting out poor but with land, this is the story of Wang Lung's coming of age in China, and follows the arc of his life. I found this book hard to read at times, frustrating because of how women were treated (as slaves, as fools, as worthless daughters) and I found that when O-Lan (Wang Lung's wife that he is given from the great house of Hwang) dies in the book, the quiet heart beating in the story went with her. This book is powerful in the story it tells, the quiet irony of it's pages as Wang Lung's fortune rises with the downfall of one great family, and his family ultimately moves towards a similar outcome. This story weaves several themes throughout, and one worth paying attention to is what happens when a parent/father sacrifices everything for land and prosperity, and the kids don't value it all, and think the parent is misguided and foolish when they reach their own maturity. That the parent makes their own mistakes in their own marriage, in their own discovery of free time and pleasure also makes an interesting backdrop to this book. I can appreciate how this was given the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1932.

After reading this, and the last few books I have read, I have a need to dive in to a good suspense novel... Lescroart here I come!

Back to that list of 100 books...

It was just about four years ago I tackled this meme - and bolded the books I had read from one of those lists that list the "100 best books of.. " . I have been trying to knock off a few of the titles I hadn't read to see if they were "all that". Here is the updated list.. 64 then... now 69... looking at the list, I am not sure how many more from this list I will end up reading.. some I have no interest in trying.. ah well, it was an interesting exercise to say the least!

*Look at the list of books below.
*Bold the ones you’ve read.
*Italicize the ones you want to read. NOTE to self- I made them RED
*leave blank the ones that you aren’t interested in.
*If you are reading this, tag you're it.

1. The Da Vinci Code (Dan Brown)
2. Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)

3. To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee)
4. Gone With The Wind (Margaret Mitchell)
5. The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (Tolkien)
6. The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (Tolkien)
7. The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers (Tolkien)
8. Anne of Green Gables (L.M. Montgomery)
9. Outlander (Diana Gabaldon)
10. A Fine Balance (Rohinton Mistry)
11. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Rowling)
12. Angels and Demons (Dan Brown)
13. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Rowling)
14. A Prayer for Owen Meany (John Irving) (tried, didn't finish)

15. Memoirs of a Geisha (Arthur Golden)
16. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Rowling)
17. Fall on Your Knees(Ann-Marie MacDonald)
18. The Stand (Stephen King)
19. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban(Rowling)
20. Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte)
21. The Hobbit (Tolkien)
22. The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger)
23. Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)
24. The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold)
25. Life of Pi (Yann Martel)
26. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams)
27. Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte)
28. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (C. S. Lewis)
29. East of Eden (John Steinbeck)
30. Tuesdays with Morrie(Mitch Albom)
31. Dune (Frank Herbert)
32. The Notebook (Nicholas Sparks)
33. Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand)
34. 1984 (Orwell)
35. The Mists of Avalon (Marion Zimmer Bradley)
36. The Pillars of the Earth (Ken Follett)
37. The Power of One (Bryce Courtenay)
38. I Know This Much is True(Wally Lamb)
39. The Red Tent (Anita Diamant)
40. The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho)
41. The Clan of the Cave Bear (Jean M. Auel)
42. The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini)
43. Confessions of a Shopaholic (Sophie Kinsella)
44. The Five People You Meet In Heaven (Mitch Albom)
45. Bible (not the whole thing)

46. Anna Karenina (Tolstoy) - I tried, couldn't get through it
47. The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas)
48. Angela’s Ashes (Frank McCourt)
49. The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck)
50. She’s Come Undone (Wally Lamb) - I tried here too, didn't go it for me
51. The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver)
52. A Tale of Two Cities (Dickens)
53. Ender’s Game (Orson Scott Card)
54. Great Expectations (Dickens)
55. The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald)
56. The Stone Angel (Margaret Laurence)
57. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Rowling)
58. The Thorn Birds (Colleen McCullough)
59. The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood)
60. The Time Traveller’s Wife (Audrey Niffenegger)
61. Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)
62. The Fountainhead (Ayn Rand)
63. War and Peace (Tolstoy) (tried, didn't finish it years ago)
64. Interview With The Vampire (Anne Rice) (tried)
65. Fifth Business (Robertson Davis)
66. One Hundred Years Of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez) (once again, tried)
67. The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants (Ann Brashares)
68. Catch-22 (Joseph Heller)
69. Les Miserables (Hugo)
70. The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)
71. Bridget Jones’ Diary (Fielding)
72. Love in the Time of Cholera (Marquez)
73. Shogun (James Clavell)
74. The English Patient (Michael Ondaatje)
75. The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett)
76. The Summer Tree (Guy Gavriel Kay)
77. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith)
78. The World According To Garp (John Irving)

79. The Diviners (Margaret Laurence) (may have read already)
80. Charlotte’s Web (E.B. White)
81. Not Wanted On The Voyage (Timothy Findley)
82. Of Mice And Men (Steinbeck)
83. Rebecca (Daphne DuMaurier)
84. Wizard’s First Rule (Terry Goodkind)
85. Emma (Jane Austen)
86. Watership Down(Richard Adams)
87. Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)
88. The Stone Diaries (Carol Shields)
89. Blindness (Jose Saramago)
90. Kane and Abel (Jeffrey Archer)
91. In The Skin Of A Lion (Ondaatje)
92. Lord of the Flies (Golding)
93. The Good Earth(Pearl S. Buck)
94. The Secret Life of Bees (Sue Monk Kidd)
95. The Bourne Identity (Robert Ludlum)
96. The Outsiders (S.E. Hinton)
97. White Oleander (Janet Fitch)
98. A Woman of Substance (Barbara Taylor Bradford)
99. The Celestine Prophecy (James Redfield)
100. Ulysses (James Joyce)

Monday, June 27, 2011


My baby, I can't believe you are two.

I have been back to work a full year now. Where the hell did the time go? No more mat leaves for me! My family is complete with you two boys.

I am so happy that you are weaned, in your own bed (most of the time) and that your words are starting to come fast and furious. I love your curiosity, and I laugh when you say "I want". We are still working on cutting those two year old molars, and when you are quiet, I am truly worried at what you are up to. You are a true joy, except when you have your meltdowns, and even then, I love you so. You are a mover, and you rarely sit still, you are captivated by our water cooler, and absolutely love bath time. I can't wait to see what the next year will bring!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Worth a chance...

A few weeks ago I handed the Book Thief to a friend and told her to stick with it, and get over the beginning of the book, it was worth seeing it through. This book became a version of this for me... I really struggled through the first 100 pages, and I kept recalling my friend who recommended it, saying that it was a good read, albeit a different one.

I am glad that I stuck it out - this is a book that will stay with me for a while. Like a few of the books I have read this year, I think that this one is hard to pigeonhole in to any one category. Part mystical and magical, part family drama, part love story, part tragedy. Beautifully written, pissed me off completely at times, and tugged on my heart strings at other times. This is a highly unusual book, and if you check out reviews of it, it tends to have a polarizing effect on it's readers, people either love or hate it. I would say that any book that evokes a reaction, and also distracts you because you want to see it's conclusion is a good book. Would I shout from the mountaintops that you have to read this one? No, but it is a really good book. Amazing for someone who is ESL, amazing that it is written by a man. The archetypes in this book, the poetry, the relationships, okay, this book caught me off guard. This is Setiawan's first novel, and I can't imagine what his next one will be about.

Monday, June 20, 2011

The season is done.

The cup run is over, and for this I am somewhat grateful. Unlike 1994, I cannot say that I am bitter about this loss. At the end of the day, the Bruins outplayed us - it wasn't the refs that lost us the game, we did that on our own. You can't get outshot 16-1 in 4 games and expect to win.

Then there was another riot in lotusland. To say I was appalled when comments began to appear as the cup was being hoisted on FB hinting to the mob is an understatement. Watching the images unfold on tv, seeing our city being trashed by a bunch of hooligans, bloody stupid. What happened wasn't about hockey, anymore than it was in 1994. The difference now is social media, and a different kind of finger-pointing and justice that is emerging and being questioned. It's unreal when you think of the events that happened that night, the blatant disregard for property, personal safety, and the seductive permission and amnesia of a crowd hellbent on distruction. I could go on - but there are already so many words penned about this.

Disgusted by the few, proud of the folks who turned up the next day to clean up and take back their city. Pretty amazing what comes from great bad things, and then the great good things. Life does seek out balance, even if it isn't always obvious.

Besides all the images of what people did, I can't help but think of all those people, milling around, holding up their phones to take pictures or videos. Standing around, curious, and taking pictures. Some people tried to intervene, while most stood around and took pictures. I am not sure about this whole social media revolution and phones with cameras, and ICBC with face recognition technology.... there is an underlying thing happening here that makes me a bit nervous, for lack of better words. The extent to which people have been "outed" is something to behold, but I also question all those who stuck around to watch - who is more quilty? The hand that acts, or the hand that stays?

So many unanswered questions, it will be interesting to see the social fallout of an experiment like this. For one, I am glad the season is done, our Nucks gave us one helluva run, and I hope the weather improves and shows us something of a summer. Time to literally move on.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Thoughts to reflect upon

I was speaking to one of Brandon's team members yesterday and getting ready for kindergarten, and we got to talking about attitudes. They mentioned a poem that I should look up, since I could probably appreciate it - and I could. I must admit I stumble over the word disability - you can substitute "challenges" or whatever word suits you. The attitude I have discovered is that people enable and disable themselves every day, and this is a poem by someone who is walking forward, head held high, looking the world in the face. Here it is:

by Emily Perl Kingsley
c1987 by Emily Perl Kingsley. All rights reserved

I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability - to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this......

When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip - to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland."

"Holland?!?" you say. "What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy."

But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay.

The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place.

So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.

It's just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around.... and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills....and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy... and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned."

And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away... because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.

But... if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things ... about Holland.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Decent.. but not over the top

This was one of those books where I alternated just really enjoying the language and the read, to places where I skim read through sections, and to others where it felt like the plot was being tied up in as quick a manner as possible. I still really enjoy Smith's writing, but this is not one of his best. I think that the first 3/4s were better than the last 1/4, and I could have done with less safari kills. The last 1/4 in some ways just didn't measure up and took on an increasingly rapid pace to the final page. Like another one of my favourite authors, Slade, I miss their longer novels (you know, the 7-900 page books it takes a long time to read). It just seems that with the shorter novels, you miss something along the way.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Wickedly delightful

It should come to no surprise that I love live theatre. I saw Hairspray a few weeks back, and it was better than what I expected. It was also a great day because I had a really good outing with my mom - which doesn't always happen.This time I went with a dear friend, and I think we both really needed a day out with a good girl friend. If we were willing to empty our pockets (Wicked was not cheap to see) we could have had better seats, yet even higher up, you didn't miss anything. The voices were clear, the music good, and the sets amazing. This is a musical that starts slow, and like a ball tumbling downhill that gathers up momentum, it sweeps you off your feet with it's magic. It was awesome.

Yet another musical that makes seeing Phantom in Vegas seem to pale in comparison. Wicked is worth every penny and is a wonderfully crafted play. I like that it flips the traditional tale on it's head, and that you see that the "Wicked Witch" truly wasn't quite as evil and nasty as they say. This musical did more 'showing' than 'telling', and it was just a marvel to watch unfold. I would go again. Right up there with other memorable plays/musicals that I have seen over the years.

See it.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Buzzzz Kill

Of course we get great weather on blastball Mondays and Wednesdays just as the 'Nucks make the final round of the playoffs. First two games, awesome.

Last two games = buzz kill.

I am grateful I was at the blastball diamond, trying to teach my kid to throw, catch, and hit. Each time after the second period, it was 4-0 when we got in to the car to come home... WTF?? Do we really need to do this the hard way, every time? Yah, yah, I believe... I knew we weren't going to sweep (one could hope though) but to lose your shorts like that. Bah.

So, rather than watch the last moments at home, we bundled ourselves together to head over to our MILs for her birthday celebration. Truly, the game took a backseat to enjoying family, especially since the 'Nucks at that point were not even in the chase. *SIGH*.

I think Friday night, we will be back to wearing our jerseys (which we didn't get in to because of b-ball practise), some homemade pizza, some wings, crack a cold one or two, and watch the game. It is the final after all, can't expect it to be easy. To not have lost 8-1 and 4-0 would have been a bonus though!!

On a total different note, this week has been chaotic. Blastball, working at both alternate locations, birthday celebration, graduation, Stanley Cup finals, a physio appointment, and then on the weekend, chiropractor for me, eye check ups, and the riding. I can't believe another session is just about done! Almost time for Brandon's second horse show! Talk about time flying... needless to say the house looks like a clothing and toy bomb has exploded

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Get out the paint brushes!

There is something to be said about kids art. Check out this young prodigy - she just opened her first art show in NYC at the ripe old age of 4!!!

For some reason, I have the urge to buy more paints! more canvas! throw down an old sheet and then let the boys have at'er.

I admit it, I love their art. I love that Brandon loves to paint (and seems to have a different knack than I do for blending colours), and Connor seems pretty keen on it too. Seeing this is a reminder to make more time for painting, and art in general. Colouring is cool, but painting is that much of a better medium to work with. Weekends seem to pass by in such a blur, it is a good reminder to maybe set aside a Sunday every month and make it a day to make an art project...

Monday, June 6, 2011

Hello Sunshine!

I had to water my plants last night instead of waiting for them to be beaten down from more rain! It is sunny - glorious sun! Shortly I will head outside for a walk to get some exercise and just enjoy being outside in a skirt and not being cold. Yay for the little things.

I figured out what I am going to read next: Assegai by Wilbur Smith... another book in a series I have followed over the last few years. I must admit a certain fondness for this series in particular, and I would also grudingly admit that Smith's style appeals to me - the adventure of it all.

GULP, game 3 goes tonight.. we are already two games up.. that balloon of hope has been swelling!!! Here is a picture of my two boys, singing the anthem before game 2. Around our house we are a little cup crazy about now. After work it is get the boys, run home, figure out some dinner, watch some hockey, go to baseball, watch the rest of hockey, get the boys to bed, fall over and rest for another day.

This is something that came across my desk today: students between the ages of 18-27 feel empowered by student debt. At age 28, somehow they start to realize that maybe their student and credit cards debts aren't a good thing. Looking back, I can't remember a time where I thought my student debt or credit card debts were a good thing - it was a way of life to get me through school because I could not have afforded it any other way. This is CRAZY!!!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

After a little arm twisting in the beginning, I liked it.

I found it really hard getting past the first twenty-odd pages of this book. A few friends have said this is a good book, and knowing this got me through the first part. Although I also have a friend whom hated this book (although that being said, when I talked to her about it last week when I realized I was really enjoying the book and I was surprised she didn't like, she admitted she read the first 10 pages, rolled her eyes, and took it back to the library).

The first part isn't smooth, it is a rough transition, and not just because Death declares themselves to be the narrator. It seems that once part one officially starts, this book finally takes off and the story ropes you in.

This is a good book - I find it strange that it is often marketed as a young adult novel. Is this because the characters are young? I think it is an important book for youth to read (as is Frey's Million Little Pieces) but I wouldn't exactly call this a kid's book.

Once again, a different take on the holocaust. I enjoyed this much more than Sarah's Key and I found the story that much more engaging, and that much more believable (or accessible for lack of a better word). Sad, dark, and yet uplifting this story told from the perspective of a poor, fostered girl in Nazi Germany. This book is many things, and I think it is one that will stay with me. I find myself grateful that I have shifted slightly what I have been reading - the books I have been reading in the last year are just so much more fulfilling than some of the others I have blitzed through all in the name of escapism. I must retract that statement, I have read a lot of great books, the ones I have been reading more of lately are just more "big L" literary than a lot of the mystery and suspense novels I was going through so quickly. I am still reading them - just not as much.

I am not sure what to read next - I have a few on my shelf that are beckoning me...