Monday, 20 March 2017

CBR goes off script, briefly

Spoiler Alert:  Review #2 contains a key plot point in Passengers that was a surprise to me.

Brief Review #1

The Cranky Book Reviewer wants to be cranky about the book I just read:  Will You Be There?, by Guillaume Musso.  The prose is painful.  SO painful.  The plot, however, is brilliant, which made me devour it in under a day, all the time being smugly judgy about how badly it is written. 

Turns out it's been translated from French, which explains a lot, but still.  Great story, bad writing.  One thumb up?

Brief Review #2

(of a film)

(hence, off-script)

(but definitely still cranky)

We watched Passengers on Friday night.  It started off interesting, and then the characters were developed, and it turned into the Best Stockholm Syndrome Love Story ever!  Oh wait, no it's not.  Because you stole her life, Jim!  I really don't feel that they fleshed that part out enough.  It would be like making a romantic movie about Elizabeth Smart, if she hadn't been rescued, and spent the rest of her life playing house with her captor.  Yes, that is in bad taste.  As was this movie.  Two thumbs down. 

Also, how much did Andy Garcia make for his "role" in the movie?  He had more air time on the trailer than he did in the actual movie. 

What's in YOUR Purse?

This morning, while looking for my work pass, I pulled out:


  • My wallet
  • My bus pass
  • My ball-o-chapstick
  • A ziplock baggie containing less-than-100-ml sizes of hand cream, lip gloss, lip stick, sunscreen and mascara*
  • My hand-knitted coffee-cup cozy
  • 2 napkins from Tim Hortons
  • Keys
  • My Kindle
  • 2 pens
  • Wafer-thin mints (pronounced “waffer”)
  • Ticket stubs from Trolls
  • 2 receipts from Loblaws
  • A purse-hanging hook
  • A magnifying glass
  • A tape measure
  • A dog sweater
  • 2 turquoise hair elastics
  • A hardcover library book
  • A purple hairband
  • A round of Babybel cheese (put in that morning)
  • A Tupperware container of rice/veggies/sausage for lunch
  • One of those green Starbucks stirsticks/spill-preventers
  • Loose change
  • Assorted female stuff
  • …and my work pass.

If there was a “What’s in Your Purse?” contest, I would totally win today.  Aside from the dog sweater, I stand behind every item. 


* Just in case I have to get on a plane and fly somewhere exotic with short notice, you know.  As one does.

Sunday, 5 March 2017

DG Rises to the Occasion (out of spite, but still)

Once upon a time, years and years and years ago, I dated a nice young man named Chris.  He was tall, fit, handsome, and blind as a bat without his glasses.  He decided to undergo eye surgery.  I had gone through it myself four years earlier, so I knew that he would need help for the first day or so until the fast healing process finished.*  Because he was so nice and I was so nice, I moved into his apartment for three days to cook for him and make sure he was ok.  And that's when I met Fis.

This was at the peak of my fitness training and his marathon training, so I cooked and ate very healthfully.  EXTREMELY healthfully.  So X-TREMELY healthfully TO THE MAX that there were no seasonings, sauces, or flavour, but I didn't know any different.  Hey, food is fuel!  So, when I cooked a nice dinner for my new boyfriend (Foreman-grilled chicken, steamed carrots, and 2 baby potatoes), and he choked it down and asked for more, there was an awkward silence because there WAS no more.  I mean, I gave him TWO whole baby potatoes because he eats carbs for his long-distance running.  How could he still be hungry?

Right, so I moved in and fed him healthfully and well for three days.  I made him protein pancakes (oats, splenda, egg whites and protein powder), my grilled chicken/carrot/potato specialty, and an amazingly delicious, flavourful casserole of spinach, boiled chicken, cottage cheese and lemon juice, to which I added pasta for, you know, his needs.  This was early enough in our relationship that he really should have been nicer about the whole experience.

To this day, he complains about those meals.  Thirteen years later.

The protein pancakes, he says (STILL), were poorly named.  With the consistency of a dry, hard tortilla, and the flavour of...nothing, really, they were Not Pancakes, and they were Not Good (in that order).  He didn't appreciate my efforts for a healthy breakfast.  Or with the grilled chicken.  But the worst offense (and he truly was offended) was making him the casserole.  I mean, I admit that the pasta really sucked the flavour out of the casserole (which I honestly believed was delicious), but it wasn't offensive.

But I digress.  Thirteen years have passed since then.

Last Friday was my last day "off".  I walked the kids to school with the dog, went to the gym, had lunch with friends and their baby, then went home to do my nails and watch a movie on NetFlix.  I was having a nice, selfish day, and was planning on throwing dinner together quickly and cleaning up the breakfast dishes at the same time.   Chris came in at about 5, on the way to pick up the kids at aftercare, saw the state of the kitchen and the lack of anything simmering on the stove, and told me that I could NOT feed them meatballs (I had stopped at IKEA on the way home) and that he wanted something healthier.

I was angry.  It was my Last Day, dammit.  I wanted to be selfish.  On the best day, I don't do well being ordered around by my husband, and ... no, wait.  I'll show him!  I'll make him something healthy.  

I found 2 chicken breasts in the freezer, which I popped into a pot of water with a splash of lemon juice and garlic powder, still frozen.  Yeah, boiled chicken is healthy, you jerk!  We had 1/2 a container of cottage cheese (healthy!) and frozen chopped spinach (so healthy!... moo-ha-ha-ha!).  I also found some black bean pasta I'd been holding onto.  OMG, Revenge Cooking is the Best!  I chopped the chicken, mixed up the casserole (also contains 1 tablespoon of light mayo, more lemon juice, and a bit of parmesan) and popped it in the oven.

I boiled the pasta (added the same amount of whole wheat pasta), then added a tablespoon of olive oil, 2 chopped garlic cloves, and two frozen cubes of tomato paste, sizzled it together, and voila, health on a plate, dammit.  As ordered, you dictator.  Take that!

Well, Vaughn loved it so much, he gave me a high five.  The girls said it was really good.  And Fis (who was out in full force), said, "Not bad."

So, yes, it was delicious.  Yes, I stepped up and pulled together an amazing, tasty, healthy meal in 30 minutes.  But where was the revenge???  Fis has still not had his comeuppance (though he might argue that 13 years with me totally counts as punishment enough), but although revenge might be a dish best served cold, I reheated it and had it for dinner tonight.

Yep, still good.

* This was before I found out how much worse Man Surgery is and how much longer and more painful Man Recovery is.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Oooh, heaven is a place on yurt

Well, Ziggy had a trip to the vet yesterday.  We keep looking at him - the giant cone, the sad, confused eyes, the lethargy - and saying, "I'm sorry!  I'm so sorry!".  So, I bought him a new stuffy out of guilt.  Also, he finally destroyed the last one on Saturday.  They have each had an average lifespan of 2 months, but the last one only made it 2 weeks.  The chew is strong in this one.

So anyway, we pulled out his baby teeth and cut off his -- 

"I'm okay!  As long as still have my.... wait, WHAT????"

For some reason, my yurt photos have not uploaded onto Dropbox (will fix by tapping on screen and yelling, "WHYYY??" soon), but let me just tell you how and why I spent two days in the wintry woods alone and loved every minute of it.

I found it on, a quiet little getaway with no plumbing, no heating, and a teeny little bit of electricity - enough for LED fairy lights and an iPod and that's all.  The yurt was small but very spacious for one, warm (she had started the woodstove before I arrived), and a perfect retreat.

I drove to the owner's house in a blizzard, and she loaded me and my two bags (one for clothes, one for just wine food and wine) onto the back of her snowmobile, and drove me into the woods for about 10 minutes.  I split my two precious days between stoking/restarting the woodstove, showshoeing, shoveling paths from yurt to woodshed to outhouse to kitchen shed, yoga, starting/stoking/despairing/celebrating the victory of barrel-sauna fire, scrubbing down with snow, and reading, reading, reading.  Also, there may have been a bit of wine-drinking.  I heated the kettle on the stove for oatmeal and tea, simmered soup, and melted snow for washing dishes, all while blissfully alone.

During that time, I thought (briefly and somewhat fondly) of my family.  I missed Ziggy.  I think I came to terms with a few goals I've set for myself, as well as a few major life changes that are winding down and, of course, ramping up, because we can't possibly have a year where NOTHING HAPPENS.  

We live, as they say, in interesting times.

I also wrote a bit:  journalled, planned, and worked hard on my guestbook entry, because others before me had set the bar so high.  I thought I knew what time it was, and that I was being so decadent, staying up till midnight and getting up at 10 -- but I found out on the last day that the clock was off by 3 hours, and I was, in fact, going to bed at 9 and getting up at 7.  Such a rebel.

So, after two days of peace, playing with fire, and giddiness, I know what I want:  to write, to challenge myself physically more often (the snowshoe up Heartattack Hill was painful and exhilarating), to travel, and to have the opportunity for solitude more often.  

I have two short weeks left of mat leave, and I'm going to make some of those things happen during that time.  Tomorrow, by going to le Nordik for the day (solitude/physical connection with self), followed by date night ball hockey (aka "divorceball").  The rest will be revealed as it comes along. 

And, of course, there's this:

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Looking for fun???

So, we're flying back from Orlando, on a 6:50 am Air Canada Rouge flight this morning. We're exhausted (lights out at 11, up at 4, with very little sleep between due to sniffy, sneezy, coughy kids), so perhaps this isn't as funny as I think it is, but here goes.

Air Canada Rouge is even cheaper (read: worse) than Air Canada. There are no screens on the seat backs, or even hanging from the ceiling. The menu has about 10 items, most of them candy. Chris asked the flight attendant for a cup of water when she was passing by collecting garbage, and she responded, “You can get water at the back. If I had to remember everyone that asked for a glass of water, you'd never get it.” Ummm...alright.... I tried to reframe it as a serve-yourself buffet. With tap water. Still nope.

And they don't even wear the hats anymore.

But the BEST part by far is the card they provide in the seat pocket.

Photo credit:  Sid & Iggy's Travel Blog
Since there is no other entertainment whatsoever (see also, no hats), they give you 6 suggestions for “having fun now!” by making crafts with your air sickness bag!  Wow!  You can make a mask, an octopus, a hook hand, and, my favourite, a crown. Because obviously, if you're royalty, and you're flying Air Canada Rouge, you probably left your regular crown at home. Or forgot it in your royal carriage.  Or maybe it burned up when a dragon smashed your castle, set fire to all your clothes and kidnapped Ronald.  Either way, the Fun Card seems a bit like they're rubbing salt into the wound.  Sure, you're so poor you have to fly on Air Canada Rouge, but there's no need to make you wear crowns out of air sickness bags.  That's just mean.  "Here you go, princess. Enjoy your flight!" 

 Unfortunately, you can only pick one "fun" craft per passenger, not 6 as promised, because you only have ONE airsickness bag.  So choose wisely!  And they don't have any more suggestions for you once you make your craft. "Oh, now you're feeling a little sick, princess? Why, just take off your crown and barf into it! 

"Well, through it, I guess." 


Anyhoo, after breakfast and naps, the kids were allowed to play on their leap pads for part of the flight.  Vaughn's battery was running low, so he asked for a charger. Then Ailsa needed one, too. Chris was trying to see the outlet (down low, in shadow) and asked me if there was a USB port on it.  After a lot of manoeuvering and trying to shine my flashlight app on it, I reported that there wasn't one.  But then I had a brilliant idea.

"Hey!  Maybe you could make one from a barf bag!"

I possibly laughed for way too long.

Sunday, 15 January 2017

DG knocks it out of the park. Ish.

Thursday was a good day.  The kids are back at school, I'm feeling more like myself, and I've sort of sorted out the whole "puppy" thing, in that Ziggy has, of late, become a far more relaxed and delightful companion.

I managed to go to the gym, write for a while, paint the board that would be our travelling growth chart for the kids, finally start working on the curtains for our living room, and make a shepherd's pie from scratch.

Hold up!  The above makes me sound far too awesome to be real, so let me explain:  I had 4 months off to recover, regain my shape, finish projects around the house, and write, and the clock is now ticking loudly.  I don't want to go back to work without having accomplished any of the arbitrary goals I set for myself, and since January 1st, I've felt intense pressure while also feeling more fear of failure than usual.  It's been really, really great.

The gym is a terrible place for me right now.  I have to go.  I want to go.  But I also want to look and feel good while I'm there, and let's face it, I'm just not there yet.  I've lost 19 of the 30 pounds I'd gained, but there are still 11 to go, and I'm not happy with how I look AND with how much effort it currently takes to hold in my stomach.  Not cool.

I'm trying to write every day (obviously not on this blog), but it's hard to get started, then hard to stop, and I neglect the dog, my water-drinking, and the house when I'm absorbed in it.

The growth chart had been written with Sharpies on the doorframe between the kitchen and dining room in our last house.  Since we lived there from when little Vaughn was 21 months old till he was 7 1/2, it had a lot of marks, memories and meaning.  I was considering using tools to take it with us when we moved here, however, tools and I have a challenging relationship; I'm pretty sure that gently ripping a giant hole in the house would not have gone over well with the new owners or with Fis.  So, I took a long piece of waxed paper and a marker, and copied each and every mark, initial and date.  I have been terrified that the waxed paper would be thrown out accidentally*, but managed to conserve it.  Thursday night, I transferred those marks onto the new board, and on Friday, I drilled holes and screwed it into the wall by our basement stairs.  We celebrated by measuring their new heights...and yes, they have grown!

I started the curtains, but I am not ready to talk about them yet.  I will possibly never be.  Let's just drop it.

The shepherd's pie, or German Shepherd's pie, as we call it around here**, was spectacular.  I told the kids I made it, and they didn't believe me (full disclosure:  Shepherd's pie usually comes from the grocery store).  I added extra vegetables to the perfectly-spiced meat layer (see also, Still Fat), put lots of corn on top of that, and kept the mashed potatoes lighter than usual, adding a few cloves of garlic to the water as it boiled the potatoes, and mashing them together with only a little butter and milk, for probably the fluffiest mash I've ever made.  Delicious, amazing, perfect... a true tribute to my --

Ok, it may have slightly poisoned Fis.

I have always given him a hard time about purchasing Discount Meat from time to time at the grocery store, but hey, he sez, a deal's a deal.  So, I got a club pack of extra lean ground beef with a 30% off sticker, used half of it for Taco Tuesday.  He wasn't feeling great on Wednesday morning, but shook it off (ish), while blaming the ground beef.  A little counter to the "use it tonight!" sticker, I used the rest of it for Thursday's shepherd's pie.  On Friday morning, I agreed with him (to myself) that perhaps we were all poisoned.

Don't tell Fis, but I'm still taking it as a win.

* Silly me.  In a family with 4 packrats, my favourite activity is throwing stuff out.  The amount of paper and art these kids generate is incredible, and Fis' filing system for bills, notices, statements and every receipt ever does not include a document disposal element.  At all.  It would have been absolutely shocking if anything made its way to the garbage can or paper recycling without me.

**  German Shepherd's pie:  it's alsatianal!

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Dog photography: Harder than you think

It is surprisingly hard to get a decent photo of a pet.  Mostly because all dogs sort of look the same, and who really wants to see photos of other people's pets?

Too bad.

I give you, so-cute-you-could-bite-him (back):

Ziggy with his slipper

Ziggy with his ball

Ziggy with his rope

Ziggy in the snow

Note that I have taken apart his little coat and sewed on an extra panel with snaps, as the velcro wasn't holding very well.  Also note that you only need to be concerned about me and my mental wellbeing when he shows up shaved and wearing baby clothes.  Dog clothes are fine and are perfectly normal.  As are dog boots, which he apparently needs as the salt hurts his wee widdle paws, yes it does.

Help me.