Saturday, December 31, 2005

Happy New Year! (aka, It's a Girl!)

Just wanted to wish everyone (all 6 of you who read this) a Happy New Year! Hope you all have nice plans. Though no one's plans will be as nice as my good friends Jen and Mike in Hamilton, who are the proud brand-new parents of little Allison Hayley. Allison was due to arrive tomorrow, Jan. 1, but decided yesterday that she'd had enough and was born at 8:05 p.m., December 30, at a respectable 7 pounds 8 ounces (after less than 12 hours of labour, I might add). Poor Jen had to have a C-section and so is spending New Year's Eve and Day at the hospital. However, I suspect that despite this, she's happy to be there. She emailed me a few days ago and mentioned that she was hoping to ring in the New Year by holding a newborn baby, and well, she got her wish!

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Books I have known and hated

Recent entries on pixxiefish in the stacks notwithstanding, I tend to make a point of finishing books I have started reading. And if I do stop reading a book, it is usually a result of lack of time more than lack of interest. Sometimes I've had to shelve a book (pun fully intended) for a chunk of time only to return to it and realize I have to start over from the beginning, which is not always appealing. Or I just get caught up in too many other things. Some books I read over a very loooong period of time, just reading here and there, now and again. Most books, however, I will try to read in a concentrated chunk of time, which is why I try (as you will note from my "Currently Reading" sidebar) not to read more than a few books at a time. Even if I'm desperate to stop reading the book.*

Three notable exceptions:

1- Beach Music by Pat Conroy. First, I must apologize to my aunt, who gave this to me about seven years ago for Christmas. I settled down one night in my Halifax apartment to read it. It's a big book (about 800 pages) and Pat Conroy is apparently "America's preeminent storyteller" (according to the jacket cover). But I should have known - he also wrote Prince of Tides. Anyway, to make a long story short, I lasted about 13 pages whereupon I am ashamed to admit to hurling the book across the room and later quickly hustling it into a bag of items that were being given away to charity. There was just something about Conroy's tone that rubbed me the wrong way (to put it lightly), and his characters made me want to scream.

2- Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie. I don't think I can really find the proper words to express my disgust with this book. However, the revulsion was not as sudden as in the case of Beach Music, though it is now no less developed. In this case, I felt I ought to read some Salman Rushdie and so, despite the dire forebodings of my good friend Paul who warned me at length about Rushdie, I dove in. My brother will attest to the one week I spent trying to read Midnight's Children. Every morning on the subway (we commuted to downtown Toronto together for a few months) I would take it out and start reading, choosing to fall asleep instead for the remainder of the ride about 3 subway stops into the trip. By Friday, I confessed to him that I wasn't going to continue at all. His sage advice: "Yeah, why read a book you don't enjoy?"

3- That advice was exactly what I heeded about two hours ago when I decided, about 112 pages in (with another 170 or so to go), that I was not going to continue reading No Time: Stress and the Crisis of Modern Life by Heather Menzies. Please note - and rejoice in! - its removal from my "Currently Reading" list. I have decided that I, in fact, have no time to read No Time. You know there's a problem with a book about the need to destress and uncomplicate life when every second sentence is roundabout, confusing and just plain perplexing. The introduction to the book caused me to have a minor panic attack. The sentence that caused me to quit? "The nanosecond speed with which symbols can move, morph and be recombined into new patterns of daunting complexity leaves no pause in which these largely anonymous abstractions can be checked out for their relevance to us personally, or as professional teams or institutions." 'Nuff said.

* The book that I finished but desperately wanted to "kill off" much, much sooner: A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry. Soooo disappointing. I'd wanted to read it for a long time. It sure was a nice thought, me having one 800-page book to read during my 24-hour train trip home from Halifax to Toronto. By about page 500 (I can't believe I even lasted that long!), I was desperate to find a way to throw myself from the train. I had ceased caring about the characters by about page 350. But I was bound and determined to finish it ... and I did. I quite enjoy the Indo-Canadian writers that have been around the past few years, but man oh man, that book was lacking both fine-ness and any sort of balance whatsoever. It still makes me shudder.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Baby, it's cold outside...

Earlier this fall, I heard a news report that it was going to be a mild winter for most of Canada ... except southern Ontario and Quebec. So here we are, temperature according to CBC radio online at a mere -16.9 degrees Celsius.

Because I am a dingbat, even though I knew it would be miserable cold out, I decided to wear a skirt today, since we have a Christmas party at work later today and I thought it would be nice to wear something a little dressier. There is a lot of "gear" associated with wintertime: this morning, my particular mix included a big thick multicoloured scarf with matching gloves and non-matching but equally multicoloured hat (note: Julie needs a nice solid-coloured dark brown or beige hat for Christmas, since the two patterns really don't match but it's the only hat she has), a long full-length charcoal grey jacket, really thick hiking socks, and sleek black knee-high boots. Despite this, my knees were a screaming red colour by the time I arrived - I thought the era of the legwarmer was (happily) over, but what else is one to do when all wrapped up snugly except for little knees poking out every time I stepped forward? I guess I need to learn to float to work, just gravitating my way forward.

Well, at least I am headed for warmer weather. Tomorrow night we fly to Toronto for an early Christmas. Oh wait - that's still southern Ontario, isn't it? Right. And then next Wednesday we fly even further west, to Winnipeg where we will spend a week with Randal's family. At least Winnipeg is supposed to be benefitting from this "mild winter"; though in Winnipeg terms, I think that means it will be -25 rather than -40. (I'm not exaggerating!) So alas, there's no escaping it. I think I just need to get this winter nonsense over with entirely and move to Vancouver. :)

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Makes you wonder...

No matter how many times a day that I check my pixxiefish blog, I still haven't posted anything new!*

* Obligatory link to keep my fans amused: You've probably received this already in an email (I did, twice) but if not (and even if you did), it's pretty cool. Make sure the sound is on!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Gonna lick you all over...

So I'm sitting on the couch, having recently finished eating a bowl of ice cream, and am reading my book on Japanese art and minding my own business, when the dog jumps up suddenly into my lap and then starts licking my right hand. Very intensely. He has it pinned between his paws at some points, turning it so that he can get his tongue into all the contours. This lasted about 20 minutes.

Then he watched intently over my shoulder as I booted up my laptop and began to blog about this first incident.

If he doesn't think he's human (which he often clearly does, as anyone who's seen him sit belly-up, legs splayed out in front of him, on the couch next to me), then he obviously thinks I am part of his pack (and Randal, too).

A minute ago he was running around the living room, tearing up a piece of cardboard we'd given to him earlier.* Now he is collapsed on his doggy-bed in the kitchen. I wish I was a dog.

I'm sorry to report that other than this recent 20-minute incident, nothing very interesting has happened recently. But I'll let y'all know if something does...

* Despite his obvious enjoyment of the cardboard, it only lasted about two minutes (the enjoyment, that is...and the cardboard, for that matter). Unlike last night's escapade where he obstinately held a sock (banned dog booty) in his mouth for almost an hour (we decided to ignore him, since he knows it's not allowed, to see if he'd eventually lose interest) and then afterward his jaw was so sore he kept flexing it in an attempt to loosen it up again. Well, some dogs just never learn.