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.

Monday, 21 November 2016

CBR: Bring back the magic!

Full disclaimer:  I loved the Harry Potter books.  I’m a total Harry Potter nerd, and have already turned Vaughn into one (he was Harry for Halloween last year) and am easily working on Ailsa (who wants to be Hermione next year) and little Ginny Weasley – I mean, Tamsin.  After reading the first four in a row, I became one with the kids who penned letters to J.K. herself, wishing, begging her to write another and tell us more about Hogwarts.  In 2006, Chris and I stood in an extremely long line at Chapters at midnight to buy the 7th book (along with young teenagers and their parents… turns out that Chris knew the man in line behind us.  “I’m buying it for my 14-year-old daughter,” he shrugged and smiled.  Chris and I:  Awkward silence).  We lined up for an hour to watch the premiere of The Goblet of Fire (and were bitterly disappointed and furious when, with 10 minutes to go, upon Professor McGonagall’s announcement that “A boy is dead!” the picture suddenly went black, and we could still hear the movie, but not see it).  (We got free passes and a refund.) (Humph.)

So, when I saw J.K. Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy in my mom’s books-to-pass-on box, I nabbed it up immediately, unsure of what to expect from a non-Harry book.


It’s no Harry Potter.  At halfway through the book, I was less than impressed.  Pagford, a (fictional) rural town in England (I had to look it up), is a far cry from Hogsmeade.  The characters are unhappy, foul-mouthed, rude, selfish, unattractive, and self-destructive.  They dabble in deceit, drug-use, domestic and child abuse, prostitution, and generally being terrible people.  They use the c-word!  (!!!)  (this is not as shocking in the UK, I suppose, but yikes!)

I’d like to think that Rowling wanted to distance herself from the world of wizards and magic, to prove that she could write something so different from the Harry Potter series just to show that she’s versatile, and a REAL author – like there was any doubt of that.  That her original books appeal strongly to – and are compulsively read by – kids and adults alike, is enough to cement her place as a writer, and on re-reading her books (as I’ve been doing with Vaughn), I am often struck by her descriptors and turns of phrase.

And then there’s Pagford. 

Up to about the three-quarter mark, I was reading it out of a fascination with the vulgar... I felt slightly ill while reading, but couldn't stop.  

And then.  And THEN!  

When I finished it, I had to admit again what I already knew:  man, she can write.  It's a gift to be able to create characters and situations that come alive, outcomes that people care about, and for me, to be able to put down a book and be so moved and impressed by its ending... wow.  (I can't even describe it as more than "wow".)

I followed it up a few months later with "her" other new book, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.  It's written as a screenplay, which was a bit off-putting at first, and is actually written by John Tiffany and Jack Thorne.  It has Harry only in a supporting role, with his second son as the main character, and Draco's son as his best friend.

Amazingly, it came to life with warmth and humour - I felt that the characters and personalities from Hogwarts are still there, and true to themselves as adults.  Draco's son, Scorpius, may have even replaced Ron as my favourite (though he's still top-two) wizard; he's the most endearing Slytherin ever.  And I stand by that.  The characters are goofy and flawed and real.

All in all, J.K. Rowling's story, from starving single mom to an author world-renowned for her talent is an inspiration to me, and the fact that she is still creating and producing more, branching out in different genres, knocking it out of the ballpark each time, is amazing.

(hey, I started out cranky...) 

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

I'm aliiiive!

Alternate title:  Insulate good times, come on!  Install some insulation...  by Kool (in my mudroom) and the Gang


Ok, ok, I know I've been completely incommunicado lately.  And by "lately", I mean "since February".

This blog tends to quiet down when there is too much stuff going on in my life.

But!  Now that the aforementioned "stuff" is over, there will be more writing, blogging, witty-joking, and updating on my extremely fascinating life!

For example, guess what I did this morning?  I insulated the crawlspace over the mudroom!

In May, our home inspector pointed out that the mudroom was "built on a concrete slab" and "had no appreciable insulation overtop", so would "probably be extremely cold".  And it is.  It's been on my list since we moved in August.  However, due to physical issues and extreme unwieldiness, it has been impossible to do until now.

I've had 2 weeks to recover from my 2am trip to the hospital on Halloween (and subsequent, wonderful 2-day vacation), and have been venturing off my couch two to three times a day to slowly walk our newest family member.  I even tried to jog down my street this morning.

Too soon.

Introducing our newest bundle of teeth and fur:  Ziggy, with his best friends

But, DG responsibilities can't be shirked forever, so I hauled the giant ladder out of the storage room (please send email reprimands directly to Fis), lifted off the panel in the roof of our carport, and changed into fibreglass-friendly sweatpants tucked into my socks, long-sleeved shirt tucked into my sweatpants, work gloves and a festive blue bandanna to cover my hair.  No, there are no photos.

I can almost stand up in the highest point of the space...which didn't need insulating, unfortunately.  I had to squeeze between framing that was about 3 feet high (but sloping down to the floor) and 18 inches wide, balance on joists 18 inches apart, and somehow roll pink insulation along, bumping my head on the sloping roof beams and coughing up a great deal of what I hope was dust, but was probably fibreglass.

The recurring thoughts I had during the whole 45-minute ordeal were:

  • I've missed my calling!  Tiny people like me are perfect for crawlspace insulation jobs.  (Much like my plan to man the subs of the Canadian Navy entirely by people of my size, which was thwarted in 1998, 1999 and 2001 - your loss, Canadian Navy!)
  • It must suck to be normal sized.
But, now that it's done (and I'm showered), I look forward to reaping the rewards of my work by feeling an almost-noticeable temperature change in the mudroom.  The next project, of course, involves weatherstripping the front door!  SO FUN!

Also, I think I can totally justify doing absolutely nothing for the rest of the day.