Wednesday, May 31, 2006
Monday, May 29, 2006
I love the light before dusk descends on long summer evenings. Softer, yet more intense than midday, lending everything a deeper glow.
About a week ago, a friend and I were walking down the street. We came upon a small park adjacent to the sidewalk. In the middle of the area was a circle of small, gnarled trees, perfect for climbing practice by children too young to attempt larger trees. I think they might have been some sort of miniature apple trees – the shape seemed right.
I came closer, moving across the grass, noticing how the blossoms created a mushroom cap crowning the circle of trees in a cloud of white. The thousands of blossoms seemed to have just popped that very day and seemed apple-like, too. Sort of like this. The closer I came, the more I could see details, the cloud separating into individual flowers, delicate petals surrounding tiny filigreed stamens.
I stopped just below one of the trees and looked up into the masses and masses of blossoms, the translucent white against a background of intensely blue sky, more vivid from the low light of pre-dusk. And then I saw the bumblebee.
Flying heavily from blossom to blossom, alighting gently on each, the flowers bending under the bumblebee’s weight, then righting themselves again when it moved on. I could smell them – a hint of heady scent, a little sharp, on the verge between pleasant and not. I could hear the faintest buzz from the tiny pollen collector. The world receded and I disappeared into this perfect moment, still and reverent in my heart, committing it to soul memory. Blossoms. Blue sky. Bumblebee.
This is what heaven must be like.
Late note: have linked to the example picture somewhat belatedly. It's been - with humidex - 41 Celcius here today. That's 107.6F. I have had no brain.
Friday, May 26, 2006
Thursday, May 25, 2006
Well, that was entirely satisfying...
When I originally got sucked into the irresistible vortex that is American Idol, it was by accident – I was sick and needed something mindless. I didn’t watch the auditions – they were on 24 hours a day for weeks (or so it seemed) and mostly featured the Tone Deaf, the Awful and the Just Plain Weird. Not a lot of fun for me – it makes my toes curl in sympathetic embarssment and preferring my humiliation in smaller doses, I just can’t take it. I started watching when they went to Hollywood and after the three groups got the news, I remember calling my mother (we call each other in commercials. It’s like getting together for a fun time, without having to leave your respective homes) and saying “I’m going to watch because of the grey-haired guy”.
And last night, the grey-haired guy won!
Now, I’ve often argued that I wish he wouldn’t win, so he wouldn’t get chewed up by the Idol machine, but still… I had a silly grin on my face for a while after Seacrest announced it. Taylor’s a lovely singer, a fantastic performer who always gives his all in every single song (love that harmonica) and in general just seems like an awfully nice guy. Plus, there’s that crush, but we won’t talk about that.
Other impressions from the finale:
It made me want to see the tour – I’ll put up with Kevin Covais, Ace and Pickler for a chance to see Elliott, Mandisa and Taylor in concert. And Bucky. For some reason, I really like Bucky. So shoot me. I’ve talked before about how I think part of the reason I enjoyed this season so much was that the contestants were older (and, as a whole, better than previous years), so the concert might only have half the audience be screaming teenyboppers with signs. We’ll see how I feel in a week or two – I’m high on excitement right now.
I actually had a good time. Normally, I endure the appalling cheesiness just to get to the end - I tend to get a smidge invested in my idols - but last night? Last night was fun. Idol was fun! Who knew?
For a while, I was wondering how Bucky was able to be in two places at the same time. He was on stage, then a minute later, sitting in the audience, then after the next commercial, on stage again. How does he do that? I thought, very perplexed. Then I remembered he has an identical twin. Duh. Some days are blonder than others.
Loved the Golden Idols. Loved the contestants who had the guts to be dreadful in front of millions of people.
Loved the look on whatshisname’s face when he got to sing a duet with Clay Aiken – clearly his hero, clearly the best moment of his life.
Elliott has an unbelievably voice. He and his mom make me cry.
Was Toni Braxton drunk?
The Burt Bacharach thing made me reconsider getting tickets for the tour if that’s what they’re going to make them do. Yikes!
Prince? On Idol?? Holy crap! I’ve never seen him perform, but now I completely get Stephanie’s life-long love of him. Whoa, Nellie!
Did I mention how happy I am that Taylor won? So happy that I may get his CD. Here’s hoping they’ll let him be him.
And now that it’s all over, I am looking forward to getting my life back. Phew!
Are you happy with the results? What was your favourite moment from last night?
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
Victoria Day was spent hanging out with the kidlings. We joke that they don’t really look like siblings, but more like their parents have been cloned - Liam's clearly a Biggs and there's no doubt that Morgan takes after the Andersen side of the family. Pictures will be interspersed throughout this post, as I couldn’t decide which not to include (just be thankful I narrowed it down to five).
Overheard in a store last week, one woman trying on rubber clogs, second woman telling her how great they were. “They’ll last you a lifetime,” she said, continuing that she wore them every day at work, 12 hours a day and “it’s been 3 years and they’re only just now starting to fall apart”. I always thought the human life span was longer than that…
I was talking to AlisonH of the comments and she mentioned Sea Silk by Handmaiden. Check the link. I’ll wait for you. G’ahead – you won’t regret it. See that picture? Was I the only one who moaned out loud (good thing it’s just me and the cat or I’d have to explain myself). Aside from the very cool seaweed aspect. It looks like it'd feel like water sliding through your hands. Now, I often click on yarn links - turns out that the yarn addiction is as hard to beat as the cigarette addiction – but my reaction tends to be “yummy. If I still knit I’d get some of that” and then I move in. Sea Silk? Not so much. I’m thinking of buying some. Not for knitting, despite being sure I could finagle a proxy knitter somewhere. Not for the “anti-inflammatory properties” (hey! Medicinal yarn!). Nope. For having. For decorously lying about. For sliding through my hands. Pet yarn.
One of the movies on the schedule was Shopgirl. I’ve loved Claire Danes since My So-Called Life (I’m still not over its cancellation), but although she was, as usual, lovely and talented, the movie is… erm. Like watching grass grow. Very pretty-looking, but moves so slowly that you can feel your youth draining away. About 40 minutes in, I decided I had better things to do with my life. Reminds me of that great quote I once read in a Dorothy Parker book review (at least, I'm almost sure it was her): “this book should not be cast aside lightly; it should be hurled with great force”. Gotta love Dorothy Parker.
It’s entirely possible that I am the last person in North America to read Life of Pi. I may also be one of the only ones to be sort of disappointed. I loved the beginning, but by half-way through, I’m… well. Distracted. Gone walkabout into another fictional universe. I do think it’s because of the audio format – the first part was so dense with ideas that I’d have loved to go back and re-read a sentence here, a paragraph there, thought about it some and then continue and that’s not really an audiobook thing. And I made the mistake of reading through, when I should have read it in half-hour intervals. I’m thinking vaguely of starting over and doing it right - possibly getting it in actual book-form, even if it'd take months to read - but it might be a while.
And speaking of kidlings, or rather, their father. May I have a drumroll, please? TinkPapa has finally relented to clamourings by the multitudes (and me nagging the crap out of him) – and gotten himself a blog. Go check it out!
The last one’s a little blurry, but they’re so damn cute I can't help myself…
Friday, May 19, 2006
America’s Next Top Model. My guilty pleasure – you have to love a show that made the word ‘hoochy’ known (as in “tone down the sex, you’re looking a little hoochy”). This year, I hated the way the product placements changed from “integrated into show” to having Jay Manuel actually do a little commercial as he introduces the product. Jade was also awful. I wanted a finale between Danielle and Joanie and got my wish. I know Danielle was just that smidge better and I loved her a lot. But Joanie… There was something about Joanie. That show actually does the best misdirection in reality TV land. In Survivor, you can always tell who’s getting booted by the fact that they make it look like they’re safe. In ANTM, they switch it up so much, I never know who’s winning.
American Idol. Loved this season. Loved that they raised the age limit, so that when I have impure thoughts about a certain dorky charmer, I don’t feel like I should wash my mind out with soap. I think Taylor will win and I’m of two minds about it. On the one hand, he deserves it, on the other, I’d hate to see him eaten up by the Idol machine and releasing an awful, generic album, when he’s so uniquely himself. Probably going to buy it, anyway.
Bones. Love this show. Love that Brennan has shown growth, becoming less awkward (although I miss the trademark ‘I don’t know what you mean’ whenever someone’d be talking about pop culture). Great show, great female roles and when I grow up, I want to be Temperance Brennan. If being a forensic anthropologist didn’t require full use of your hands and other body parts, that’d be my next career move.
CSI. The best of the franchise – imitations (I'm looking at you, Horatio) can go home and wonder why they can’t attain the same level of excellence (no soul, too manufactured is my opinion). Good season finale, very different from last year's nailbiter (with Nick buried alive). This year? Emotionally satisfying.
ER. Watch it, but can’t really get too involved anymore. I may be scuttling this next year, although I’d miss them. They’ve become a bit like family, haven’t they? I do like the storylines about Darfur – socially responsible television. Who knew?
Grey’s Anatomy. Spolier alert: if you haven’t watched the finale yet, stop reading! The season finale. Oh. My. God. I can’t believe they killed Denny! I mean, I get that it’s a very gutsy artistic move (ER would have made such a popular character part of next season’s cast), but it felt like losing a real person. I am ridiculously emotionally invested in the characters, care not a whit that the medicine is at times sketchy – the human drama is so gripping. And they’re funny, too.
Lost. I’m confused, but helplessly hooked.
Survivor. Once Cirie and Terry were out of the running, I lost interest in who’d be sole survivor. I still watched – c’mon, I couldn’t not! – but I didn’t care. Shane was a delight. Especially once he began seeming less likely to grab a machete and start chopping up his fellow castaways. In the beginning, I worried.
So now I ease into a couple of weeks of twitching, having trouble getting out of the “what am I watching tonight” habit, but it won’t be long before I don’t think of turning on the TV for most of the summer, except for watching DVDs and Big Brother. Oh, and likely the World Cup. Speaking of Big Brother… Much as I think the All-Star shows are no fun at all – much of the delight of reality shows is getting to ‘know’ new people – Big Brother’s version coming this summer means I get to watch Kaysar again - I can't see him not be part of it. Unless they boot him immediately as happened to the strong players in Survivor All-Stars. Here’s hoping.
What TV show will you miss this summer?
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
Well, years later, I got my wish. Sort of. Every May, St. James’ Cathedral has a Last Night of the Proms concert and it’s become a tradition to go. Parts of the program changes, parts stay the same. It's wildly monarchical,
wildly British, wildly all about the Empire (to be said with very uppercrust British accent, if you please), complete with military presence in the form of the Band of the Royal Regiment of Canada. The only thing missing is the period costumes and as I’d look ridiculous in a bonnet, I can live with that.
This past weekend, we made our way to St. James Cathedral for the annual Proms performance. Naturally, the evening starts with a rousing rendition of the Canadian national anthem, which is a damn good one. Sung by a cathedral full of enthusiastic people it sends chills up and down your spine. I always look forward to hearing the changing parts of the program. We all know the tune from ‘The Bridge over the River Kwai’, right? This year, I heard the rest of the tune for the first time when the band played 'Colonel Bogey on Parade' (and it’s very good). They also played ‘The Vanished Army’, which was composed as a tribute to the first – the first - 100,000 dead of World War I. It was beautiful and sad and I couldn’t help imagining 100,000 ghostly boys, marching in formation through the church. Maybe some day we’ll become civilized enough that there will be no more vanished armies.
The evening is presided over by Dr. Giles Bryant, who I believe used to be the choir conductor/music director/or whatever they’re called at the church. He is incomparable. Urbane, witty, gregarious and knowledgeable, he makes the evening. I’m also beginning to recognize other repeat visitors – people in the choirs, the band, even in the audience. Then, of course, there’s the conductor of the band on whom I have a wholly adolescent crush, based solely on his posture (swoon-inducing) and the way he carries the uniform. Sigh…
I love the traditional aspects of the evening. As some people in my family circle could tell you, I’m a sucker for traditions. Love ‘em! I love the connection to the past, the roots created by traditions. How cool is it to listen to a performance of Handel’s ‘Zadok the Priest’, first performed at the coronation of Mary and William in 1685? You can feel the history. So we sing 'Rule Brittania', 'Jerusalem'
(apparently the official song of The Women's Institute in the U.K.), 'Save the Queen’ and my very favourite: ‘Land of Hope and Glory’, sung with great abandon while everyone madly waves flags of various U.K. persuasions (the Union Jack, Scottish, Welsh, etc. Although we do sneak in a Danish one). And then we sing it again. And again. For a few hours. Well, maybe not hours, but it’s sung enough times that you can make it through until the next Proms without getting twitchy. Walking home, we sing it some more.
It’s a great night.
Monday, May 15, 2006
Friday, May 12, 2006
I used to be a rabid Stephen King fan. Absolutely rabid. Which, considering the author’s genre, is really sort of appropriate, don’t you think (cue foaming at the mouth)? I’d read anything by him, eagerly await a new release, buy it the minute the hardcover hit the stores (this being back in the days where I had money) and disappear for a couple of days, doing nothing but reading. Until Tommyknockers. I hated Tommyknockers. That was the book that made me stop reading Stephen King for several years (until I got Bag of Bones from the library, which made me read him again, although less fanatically). As an aside, when I read On Writing, I found out he was crashing on an addiction to alcohol and cocaine when writing Tommyknockers and then it all made so much more sense.
A few weeks ago, when I was feeling particularly homicidal, I started reading Cell. Nothing better than a bit of apocalyptic reading to brighten your day when people piss you off. The book is good – classic King. I don’t know anybody who can more effectively make a little old lady seem menacing purely by what seems at first sight a fairly innocuous description. Which is what I’m going to be talking about today. Not the book, as such, but the writing and the reading thereof.
King has a unique style – reading a random page, you can tell he’s the writer. I’ve seen some people complain about his ‘wordiness’ and yes, Cell is wordy. In the beginning of the book, it takes him 3 hours (of audiobook time) to describe a similar length of time in the book’s universe and later, I sometimes noticed how much he took his time in telling parts of the story. However, I didn’t have any problems with it and it may be because of a new discovery: Stephen King is not made for the traditional type of reading. He’s made for listening.
I’ll be honest – sometimes, what makes King uniquely King annoys me. You know what I mean, don’t you? The style that in the past made me think Stephen King was best enjoyed by young people (especially young men), the toning-down of which style made me call Bag of Bones ‘a great adult novel’. Turns out that when you read by listening, that style rocks. Cell is read by Cameron Scott, who brilliantly captures the stoic Maine-ness of the characters and the aching despair of a world gone irretrievably mad. However, the writing itself stood out in a way I’d never noticed before.
When I re-read the audiobook of On Writing last year, it was narrated by Stephen King himself. His narration made me realize that he writes exactly the way he talks, that there’s a rhythm to him. Reading Cell felt familiar in a new way – despite it being narrated by someone else, I could hear King’s voice. It felt like truth. That his stories are true to who he is (which is either very cool or very scary). Becoming familiar with this rhythm also made me realize that his takes are really campfire ghost stories. I’d close my eyes and disappear into the story in a way I’ve never done with his writing before – I could imagine the fire, the dark forest and him scaring the bejesus out of a rapt audience. What might look like ‘wordiness’ on a page, becomes slow, torturous build-up in your ear, descriptions that so masterfully capture a feeling that you live it, instead of reading it.
How wonderful to rediscover a writer. Despite having read most of his books, I’ll be revisiting them in audio form.
Monday, May 08, 2006
“what am I doing with a blog?
- me, 1 year ago
In the midst of the insanity that was last week, I remembered that it was getting towards my blogiversary and made a mental note to start thinking about what to write for the day. Just thinking, mind you – I knew the day was sometime in the third week of May, so I had lots of time. Lots! A few days later, it occurred to me to check the date – I believe in planning ahead. Gulp. May 6. Right, then. Yes, I know it’s May 8 today. I was abducted by aliens. Really.
Anyway… it’s a year later. 170 posts later. I may have figured out what to do with a blog.
This has been a place to share my words and photographs. It’s been a place to share opinions, reactions, growth and laughs. The little and the big in my life. One biggie was a new love – or rather, two. When you find a new love, you want to shout it from the rooftops, but I’ve discovered that a blog is even better. Not only can you rabbit on endlessly about your beloved, but you can also infect a host of others. Who knew the Tinks would have a fanclub before they were even born? As promised, here are my lovies on their first television appearance.
this is where the picture would be if Blogger would get off its arse and upload it. Check back later for the Tink Fix.
My favourite part of blogging is the community it creates. By following the trail of comments and emails, I’ve been allowed to share the lives of others. I’ve met new people, made new friends. It still blows my mind how close you can get to someone half a world away, solely through words.
It’s been a hell of a ride and I can’t wait to see where we go next. Thank you for reading.
Friday, May 05, 2006
I borrowed a blanket from my mother last week. It was my father’s, bought when he was young and working all over the British Isles. The blanket he bought in Scotland and I am pretty sure it’s the Royal Stewart tartan. It’s wool and large, larger than any other blanket we’ve ever had and there’s a rip in one end that’s been there for as long as I can remember, never advancing deeper into the reds and greens and blues.
My father used to nap with this blanket, never with anything else. He napped on a single bed that used to be mine when I was a child, covered up, cocooning in the blanket. I remember waking him up a little before dinner was ready, allowing enough time for him to wake up fully – I get my post-sleep stupor from him – and wash his hands. I’d quietly say “far? It’s 6 o’clock”, wait a beat and then repeat it a little louder. I get my ability to sleep through World War III from him, as well. He’d jerk awake, mutter something sleep-drunk and barely recognizable as “got it”, and his head would crash back down on the pillow while he attempted a slow return to consciousness. He’d hardly ever move when he napped, even in sleep following his dictum of ‘if you’re going to bother doing something, do it all the way’. Despite the stillness of his body, his hair would always stick up in seventeen different directions when he woke up. I never figured out how he managed that.
The truest smell of someone comes when they sleep. My father never used cologne and so the blanket was suffused with his smell, his essence. I’d use the blanket sometimes, before I bought my own, and regardless of the at times complicated nature of our relationship, enveloping myself in that blanket felt like being wrapped up in him and it was safe and warm, uncomplicated and true.
Last Friday, I borrowed the blanket because mine was in the wash. I needed a nap, a recharge after a very bad day and so I lay down and bundled myself in it. The first thing I noticed was the weight. It’s heavier than my blanket, just the right kind of heavy. Enough to make your body feel well covered, but not enough for claustrophobia. The wooliness makes it a little scratchy, again just perfectly so. And then it hit me.
It smelled like my father still. Not a lot, just a hint, a breath of his far-smell, the smell that is uniquely him, the smell of no one else in the world. And all of a sudden, the missing him, the ache in my heart that has his name on it, was there no longer. I was wrapped up in him again and I have slept like a dream since.
Thursday, May 04, 2006
For the Tink Freaks™ (we so need t-shirts) out there: TinkPapa will be volunteering this Sunday (May 7) as part of the CHTV telethon to raise money for the McMaster Children’s Hospital. TinkMama and the Tinks will be making an appearance, as well, so the whole family can tell their story. John’s on air between 5-7pm and the Tinks should be making their television debut probably 5ish. Unfortunately, I’m pretty sure CHTV only covers Southern Ontario, so any Tink Freaks outside that area are… well, we’ll tell you all about it.
And to file under ‘Sometimes, Good Things Happen’:
A new friend was having surgery this week and all signs indicated the Big Bad, but it was nothing but good. An appointment I’d dreaded wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I did manage to injure my knee and the new chair is… let’s just say it’s earning its moniker of Torture Device. However! The old chair’s fixed, it was a simple thing, only cost $95 and it’s coming home to mama tomorrow and there’s an appointment next week to get back on track making the new one useable. One more thing this week to angst about (vet visit Friday), but hopefully, it’ll follow the trend (knock wood and pretty please)
I think maybe the universe has decided to ease up and if Nemesis is reading this, please note that I said ‘think’. Nothing definite, no arrogance, just gratefulness for the breaks.
Monday, May 01, 2006
So, Friday. It had been a bit of a week, but I had paid my bills, finally finished some work (before the deadline! Ok, just before. Almost as ‘just’ as you can get – nervewracking, that was) and was so ready for the weekend. I started things out by getting my hair cut (was resembling an Old English Sheepdog) and getting tickets to Last Night of the Proms at St. James'. Double yay! Went home for my Friday morning breakfast (or in this case lunch) gab session with a friend on the west coast. She’d had a bit of a week too and we talked about how it was starting to look like a good end to a not-terrific week.
That’s when she got me. Nemesis. The bitch.
After I got off the phone, Mojo promptly had bad GI issue, requiring – urgh – clean-up and cuddling to comfort the wee thing.
Around 2pm, I decide to follow up with health insurance company re: replacement cheque for a claim. Turns out they have done the exact opposite of what I asked them to do. Looks like classic insurance company: very busy getting sky-high premiums. Very un-busy getting cheques to customers. A few months ago, when I was $27 short on my premium (due to misinformation by one of their customer service rep), they contacted me twice by letter and once by phone in a 1-week period. In contrast, I’ve been waiting 3 months for my cheque. Ha. Percolate complaint letter (with sky-high blood pressure).
Start reading Cell by Stephen King – have an intense need to read about a world-wide apocalypse in which many, many people turn into ravening zombies and many, many people die. Violently. Imagine them all to be employees of insurance company.
This gives me a bit of an appetite. Have lunch.
Notice wheelchair feels weird. I think maybe it's me - sometimes when my shoulder is unhappy, this happens. Realize there's no give in chair when in neutral. Remember vaguely that this has happened before and that it's serious. Fact: the likelihood of a wheelchair breaking down becomes statistically greater the closer you come to Friday afternoon (and goes through the roof before a long weekend). It is now 3:10pm. I call repair place, talk to lovely rep Amber. Amber tells me it sounds like the brake has gone. Realize she’s right - left side feels more draggy (this is an expensive repair and since my chair is old, they may not even have the right parts). Am informed that if I keep using it, I will fry the controller, which, on top of the brake repair, will be several thousand dollars. Have no repair guy available to come out. Chair must go to shop to get fixed. On Monday. Fuck. Have minor nervous breakdown about what to do. Options are 1) use old chair, fry controller; or 2) use new chair which, as the issues (seating, etc) are so significant that they cause rather loud pain after a few hours in it, will for today’s purposes no longer referred to as “sculpture”, but “torture device”. Freak out a bit more.
Right. There’s nothing for it. Have to use torture device until problem resolved.
Said torture device, by the way, isn't charged. Batteries completely comatose.
Fine. Take nap, charge chair during. Mor (thank various divinities for mor) comes over with big knife - Crocodile Dundee kind of Big Knife - to hack away at new $500 cushion (replacement for $400 original which feels like sitting on nails) to attempt to make more comfortable - if it destroys it in the process, as we're not expert seating people who knows how to do this shit, so be it. Decide to try cushion from old chair before hacking commences. Is OK. Not great, but marginally better than nail-cushion. Phew! While mor adjusts cushion, I'm standing (such as it is) with support of another person – interesting. Haven’t stood for that long in years. Body somewhat underwhelmed by the experience. Sit back down, pack a pillow by lower back, another on left side, plan to sit still for the evening, hoping the 3 hour charge will see me through to bedtime. It does. Rest of weekend is… well. Good thing I had serious painkillers in the house. Better living through chemistry and all that. Currently waiting for Dave the Miracle Repair Guy to come pick up the old chair. Keeping my fingers crossed that they have the parts. (note: yes, it does eventually occur to me to be grateful that the torture device was here or the degree to which I’d be screwed would have been significantly greater. Took about a day, though)
And to push things into the realm of the surreal and hysterical…. As the circumference of the waist in comfy drawstring pants is rather different when sitting and standing and as I am a bit thin these days, when I am “standing” while my mother applies old cushion to new chair, said pants start very slowly, but inexorably to slide down towards indecent. Mor, ever helpful, gives them a yank up before I sit down again. And in so doing, gives me a wedgie.
Oh well. At least my hair looks good.