Book Talk

September 30, 2007 § 5 Comments

Here’s an old article from the Atlantic Monthly that’s long, but worth a read. I enjoyed The Shipping News, but it might have been because the strange sentence structure and repitious, adjective-heavy prose made me feel I was reading a revolutionary new form of Literature. On the other hand I couldn’t stand Snow Falling on Cedars (get… on… with… it… Guterson?). Anyway, you should at least peruse it, especially if you’re a writer.

Kid*Lit(erary) is pretty much my dream blog, with a focus on the sort of children’s literature every aspiring YA writer pores over. A few weeks ago, Laurel focused on the Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle books, which my first-grade teacher read to us during storytime in January-February 1988. My brother had pneumonia (again) that winter and was quite lethargic, so I entertained both of us by reading ahead in the books. In class, the accuracy of my predictions for “what happens next” drastically improved.

via Heidi: Cooked Books, a blog by Rebecca Federman, explores The New York Public Library’s culinary collection. Recent entries have featured recipes for Jacques Pepin’s Fromage Fort and The Lily, a cocktail comprised of Lillet, gin, and Creme de Noyau (possibly my three favorite things).

Other Goodies

Highlights For Children‘s Hidden Pictures

Masterpiece Theatre’s The Railway Children (also available to locals here)


Cort Delano Tonight

September 26, 2007 § Leave a comment

Just in case you forgot, Cort Delano is playing at the Boscawen Inn tonight from 7:00 till about 9:00. Food starts at 6:00, cover is $5. You could have dinner, catch a live show, have money for tip and a bit for the hat and not spend more than $20.

Be there or be a cold rotisserie chicken. It’s up to you.

Ding, dong, bell

September 24, 2007 § 2 Comments

Kitty’s in the well.
Who put her in?
Little Johnny Green.
Who pulled her out?
You can bet your ass it wasn’t me.

Emma and Isaac visited over the weekend, and aside from an epic battle in which we tried to force a hysterical, sleeping 7-year-old to take her asthma medication and some general snottiness on Sunday, it went very well. Isaac was a dream.

But, ahhhhh. The third charge. That damned cat. When we stopped by to feed it on Saturday afternoon, it had scratched dirt out of two houseplants.

“Oh, George, you bad cat,” said Emma. “You did it again!” [cuddle, cuddle, love love]

I took this to mean that he routinely scratched dirt out of their plants, and stopped there. I didn’t question Emma, because I didn’t want to take the extra breath that would have required. I assumed that it didn’t mean he was gearing up for that other thing cats do to houseplants when they’re pissed. Mistake.

We stumped in Sunday after gymnastics to an even-worse-than-usual cat odor. Whatever could it be? I wondered casually, having previously eliminated that possibility.

But no.

Cat. Shit. In four different houseplants.

Potting soil flung all over the apartment.

Dirty pawprints on all the carpeting.

Mr. Mistoffelees eyeing us from the scratching post.

My sainted husband cleaned up the whole mess as best he could without paper towls, disinfectant and a haz mat suit. I put the cat out on the patio with food, water, previously-neglected litter box, and a string of curse words I didn’t know I knew.

I hate you, cat.


September 21, 2007 § Leave a comment

A favorite of my Grade 11 English teacher’s.


Just Like Starting Over

September 20, 2007 § 4 Comments

This week I’ve been working on my YA novel and it’s going surprisingly well. I’ve cleaned up the cringe-worthy dialogue in chapter five (something that I’ve felt paralyzed over for months), and while it’s still bad, reading it no longer discourages me so much I quit AppleWorks anymore.

For me, writing successfully is all about rhythm. Repeating the process daily, so I don’t forget where I was headed in a particular scene— subscribing to the Hemingway Method ‘when you get going good, stop— and so I feel the momentum building under me. This way it seems as though the story is writing itself rather than me painfully struggling for the next word every time I hit the space bar.

Tomorrow, though, my rhythm will be interrupted. We’re agreed to take my former wards for the weekend, and every time we do there’s always some unforeseen complication.

This time they asked me to look after a cat they’re baby-sitting. I agreed to make sure it was watered and fed daily, but I had every intention of bringing Emma and Isaac here so I could be half-assured of a decent sleep every night. I enlisted Richard’s niece to feed kitty on Saturday and possibly Sunday, and no one would be any the wiser. We’d go apple-picking and Geocaching, and generally leave the kids fuller of fresh air and organic produce than we found them.

But ho! Now there are more complications. Emma has a birthday party Saturday afternoon and the kids both have gymnastics Sunday morning. So my choices are:

1) Suffer though the cat* and the nail-filled sleeper sofa mattress, or

2) Spend five hours schlepping them back and forth all weekend.

Also, the birthday party falls right into Isaac’s nap time on Saturday. He’s a real treat by 7:00 pm if he’s skipped his nap, I assure you.

*Can they sense the histamines flooding my bloodstream? Is that why they insist on sleeping on my face/curling up on my lap whenever an opportunity arises? They’re really that evil?

Anyway! My rhythm. It will be interrupted over the weekend even more than I was planning, so what to do?

Fellow writers: how do you get your groove back after some time away?

Library Programs this Fall

September 18, 2007 § Leave a comment

In the September/October Library Guide (for the Halifax Regional Library System), they’re announcing a series of lectures for people like us who don’t get to travel a lot, but really wish we could.

Some programs that caught my eye:

Author Reading: Silver Donald Cameron
September 18 at 7:00 pm; Spring Garden Road

Scott Walking Adventures* (discusses Nova Scotia’s geological past)
October 2 at 7:00 pm; JD Shatford

Adventure in Peru*
October 17 at 7:00 pm; Keshen Goodman

Literary Tour of Tuscany*
October 18 at 2:00 pm; Keshen Goodman

Off the Beaten Trail in Nova Scotia
October 24 at 7:00 pm; Keshen Goodman

Peru and Brazil*
November 6 at 7:00 pm; Spring Garden Road

Author Reading: Len Wagg
November 7 at 7:00 pm; Alderney Gate

Faces of India*
November 14 at 7:00 pm; Keshen Goodman

Amazing Africa*
November 20 at 7:00 pm; Spring Garden Road

All the astrisked talks have a Rough Guide book as a door prize, and— this is what captured my interest— for every event you attend, you can enter to win:

• two return train tickets from Halifax to Quebec
• $75 gift certificate to The Prince George
• brunch for four at Sugar Moon Farm

One entry per person per event. Not bad for free entertainment.

Happy Birthday to Me

September 17, 2007 § 5 Comments

I stumbled across this meme months ago and squirreled it away just for you, sweet reader.

On this day in history:
1. Charles VI of France expels all Jews from France (1394)
2. United States Constitution signed* (1787)
3. Camp David Accords signed between Israel and Egypt (1978)


I share my birthday with:
1. Sophia Alekseyevna (1657)
2. Billy the Kid (1860)

And it’s the anniversary of the death of:
1. Spiro Agnew (1996)

*I’ve always considered the Constitution to be the true founding document of our fair nation. Sure, it lacks the flash of “We hold these truths to be self-evident…”, but The Preamble is a lovely piece of hopeful, ambitious philosophical writing:
“We the people, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility….”

We (or, hey, I) tend to think of the Founding Parents as fierce men stomping about in Philadelphia’s streets in their stockings and glorified deck shoes yammering on to each other earnestly about obscure points of law; but really, they were just starry-eyed dreamers like the rest of us. To wit: the “promote the general welfare” bit. I wonder if that would get shoehorned in today.

Anyway, before I get distracted, I thought I’d share some hard-won nuggets of wisdom I’ve accrued, lo these 25 years.

• Regardless of the proverb, it’s very easy to love a poor man instead of a rich one; plus, bonus points for not having to drag a camel through the eye of a needle in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. So that’s handy.

• And speaking of camels, to avoid being spat upon while standing in their presence, it’s best to keep yourself about level with the front legs.

• If you’ve got a sunburn and haven’t got access to aloe vera gel, you can make a soothing paste of water and baking soda to help stop the pain.

• Everyone loves a handwritten thank-you note, plus it gives you a legitimate opportunity to play with sealing wax.

• Never pass up the chance to pee.

• Listening to Car Talk is a great mood-booster, even when your mother calls to say ‘happy birthday, oh, by the way, we almost had your beloved childhood dog put down last Thursday.’ You get to learn the names of a lot of different bits of the combustion engine (which share the names of many human parts: knuckles! joints! shafts!), if not how they fit together or work (suck! squeeze! bang! blow!).

• It’s always a good idea to have a pen and something to scribble on somewhere on your person.

• Old Hollywood classics are usually a let-down, so always get a back-up movie rental.

• When baking, if you measure your oil first, you can used the pre-greased cup to measure sticky substances (molasses, peanut butter) and they’ll slide right out.

• A gift of monogrammed handkerchiefs is a good choice for anyone.

Well, that’s all I’ve got for now. We’re off to celebrate my birthday with our usual Caligulan levels of indulgence. Have another round on me, and a happy birthday to you from me, whenever that may be. See you tonight at the Circus Maximus.

In closing, here’s a poem by Jack Gilbert.

Getting Away with It

We have already lived in the real paradise.
Horses in the empty summer street.
Me eating the hot wurst I couldn’t afford,
in frozen Munich, tears dropping. We can
remember. A child in the outfield waiting
for the last fly ball of the year. So dark
already it was black against heaven.
The voices trailing away to dinner,
calling faintly in the immense distance.
Standing with my hands open, watching it
curve over and start down, turning white
at the last second. Hands down. Flourishing.

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