Wordless Wednesdays - August 31, 2011

I grew these...

Z is for...

... zany!

Well, think about it.  Take my geekiness, throw in odd family traditions, and add in things like trying to grow all my own veggies, buying a clothes line to use inside, and trying to dehydrate corn... and well, you get zany.

More examples?

As a young 'un (okay, not that young - teenager maybe?), my brother started, for some odd reason, to swap the first letters of words.  So, "no problem" became "pro noblem", etc.  It became infectious (of course!), and soon the whole family was doing it.  My father recommends one does not try this with "Huckleberry Finn".  But that's not the zany part.  The zany part is when it becomes so ingrained, that you forget most people don't talk like this, and wonder why you are getting odd looks whilst singing along with "Jenny and the Bets".  You know, the Elton John hit?

"Jenny, Jenny, Jenny and the Bets!"

Then there's that thing Dad and I do, where we will spontaneously say the same thing at the same time (oddly enough, generally some smart-ass quip), then look at each other and say "shut up!".  Really - this happens ALL THE TIME. 

It's inherited, I tell you. The whole famn damily is zany.

And also, to end with...

Z is for, of course, Zed, NOT Zee.  I am Canadian, after all! :)

Y is for...

... y not*?

"Y Not, What's the Worst That Could Happen?" has been my unofficial motto for years now.

While shopping for a new headboard and side tables, you note that the quality of the furniture is horrible, and it looks fairly simple to make.  Make your own bedroom furniture?

Y not?  What's the worst that could happen?  Some money wasted, some time spent - but it might just work out.  And it did.

Travelling by yourself to a foreign country?

Y not?  What's the worst that could happen?  Okay, the worst here is pretty bad, but most people travel with no issues what so ever.  And maybe travelling by yourself opens up the opportunity for locals to notice and approach you, and tell you they lived in Canada for a while, and if you need directions to get on the right train to Bern, just ask!  Or to tell you all about their life in St. Andrews while walking the golf course with you, or about how the village all comes out to curl on the rare occasion that the loch freezes over - after noting their surprise that you not only do you know what curling is, but that you have actually curled!  Maybe travelling by yourself provides you with the knowledge that you can survive things like... travelling by yourself :)

Driving half way across the continent with a dog?

Y not?  What's the worst that could happen? Sure, there could be break-downs and sick dogs, but maybe having the dog with you makes you actually stop more often, and find local areas to walk around, letting you see more of the area you are driving through, instead of driving from rest stop to rest stop.

Buying a house, knowing it needs a complete gut, and you will be doing a lot of the work yourself in your "free" time?

Y not?  What's the worst that could happen?  Well, I'll get back to you on that one!!

* yes, it's a cheat, but hey - I did a real word for X!

X is for...


At least when it comes to food, that is.  I have yet to try a national cuisine I don't like.

Growing up, of course, we generally ate standard "meat & potatoes" food, but also dishes that came from the "ethnic" population of Niagara Falls - German and Italian, mostly.  I still love gnocchi.  And cabbage rolls.  And pierogi.  Oh, pierogi, with bacon and onions...yum!

And then I went to university and discovered the wonders of Greek food.  And Mexican.  And Lebanese.  And Thai, and good Chinese.  And Japanese and sushi. 

And then I moved to Saskatoon, and found even better Mexican, and more South American regional foods, and even better Asian restaurants (oh, those appetizers at that place in Moose Jaw!!).  And of course, the Ukrainians- more pierogis, and so many other great dishes.

And visiting Calgary, I was introduced to Ethiopian - oh, wow, if you ever get the chance, go for it!

And traveling to Switzerland (the cheese!), and Scotland (yes, I ate haggis!!).

I've eaten wild boar, and venison, and bison and even frog's legs.  And quail and rabbit ... and even basil ice cream :)  Smoked white fish, wild rice.  So many different foods.

So my X is about all the fantastic food choices out there - here's to years of more good eating and discovery of even more cuisines!

Good-bye, Mr. Layton

This is Canada.

One of my favourite songs, written by Canadian Leonard Cohen, sung by Canadian Steven Page of the Barenaked Ladies, at the funeral of Jack Layton, Leader of the Official Opposition.

No matter what the political flavour, the most common refrain this week was about how GOOD Jack Layton was.  And he is gone too soon.

One indication of how respected, how liked he was:  this was a state funeral, which is determined at the discretion of our Prime Minister, who was Mr. Layton's polar opposite and political enemy.

Good-bye, Mr. Layton.  This country is poorer for your loss. 

W is for...

... water.

I don't know if it's because the first three years of my life were spent within a mile of the falls, or that it's just my nature, but I love water.  I'm happiest when living near water, and that is one of my favourite things about this house - the lake is so close and so accessible.  I love laying in bed in warm weather, listening to the waves on the shore.  I love walking along the shore, watching the boats and the birds.  I love canoeing, and want to eventually do more kayaking.  I love swimming, and wish the dogs liked water more!  I even take epically long baths, especially in cold weather. 

However, I do wish the beaches here were dog-friendly, so I didn't have to break the law when walking the dogs :)

V is for...

... vertigo.

I've blogged before about my odd form of vertigo, but thought it could use an update.  Because a new attraction at Toronto's CN Tower has been in the news, and I'm almost  positive it would give a LOT of people vertigo.

I haven't been to the CN Tower since grade school, but I was at Calgary's Tower just a few years ago - and realized that our brains are somewhat interesting.  That tower, like many now, has a "glass" floor part that you can walk on, and look straight down.  And since I'm not afraid of heights, no problem, right?

Wrong, very wrong.  It took every ounce of will power for me to step onto that floor.  I KNEW it was safe.  I KNEW there was a floor there.  I KNEW thousands of others had walked on it without incident.

But, that little reptilian segment of my brain kept shouting "Are you out of your freakin' MIND??????"  It was the oddest sensation, and I'm quite sure it would happen again if I tried this new attraction. 

In fact, my vertigo kicks in just from watching this video.  Enjoy, if you can...

U is for...


I have done almost nothing on the house this summer.


I lost my forward momentum when Dad took time off to recover from surgery, and just, well, never got it back.

I need a kick-start.   I'm tired of pink walls, and the horrible green carpet and NO kitchen to speak of - but not tired enough to actually do anything about them. 

Mind you, it was nice having some extra time this summer, but it would have been nicer to have the house finished...

Okay, I need to find my motivation.  Anyone know where it is??  Anyone?

Wordless Wednesdays - August 24, 2011

T is for...

Image source
... travel.

I love to travel. I've been lucky enough to have been to Europe twice:  Switzerland for 4 weeks (for work, so the trip was paid for - yay!) and 2 weeks in Scotland for a friend's wedding.  I've travelled through most of Canada, from Cape Breton Island in the Atlantic to Prince Rupert on the Pacific.  I haven't made it to the "real" north yet (Prince Rupert, at 54 N, is the furthest north I've been), and, Canada being so big, there is much of the country I haven't seen.

But I've travelled the Cabot trail, and made a road trip from Saskatoon to Edmonton to Jasper to Banff to the Black Hills to the badlands in South Dakota to home and back to Saskatoon, I've made the drive from Saskatoon to home more times that I can remember (northern Ontario in the fall?  Must-see for everyone.  Amazing, absolutely amazing!).  I've been to a handfull of US states - mostly while driving back and forth to Saskatoon (Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, the Dakotas north and south, Montana, Wyoming), and New York, of course, but I haven't travelled south at all - the furthest south, so far, is Pittsburgh.  My planned trip to Texas this fall will change that, of course :)

One thing about the economy, and increasing gas prices that saddens me most is that it limits any future travelling I will do.  There is nothing I love more than packing up the car and driving off - for a day, for a week, or for longer.  But when it costs almost $70 to fill the gas tank....

So T is for travel, and I just hope I can do more of it in the future.  There is so much I still want to see - Ireland, Australia, the drive along the Pacific coast, from B.C. to California.  And I probably should get to Florida one of these days, since that seems to be mandatory for Canadians :)

The picture is of Edinburgh castle.  I had the BEST time in Scotland, and would go back in a heartbeat.  Two weeks was nowhere near enough time - I could spend two weeks in Edinburgh alone!

S is for...

... sustainability.

I realize I started this blog to document the renovation on the house (no, it's not finished.  Yes, I am still working on it.  Yes, I will get back to blogging about it, but drywall seams are only so interesting...), but you may have noticed that I've been posting a bit more about food and sustainability.

This is something that I've come to realize is very important to me, even more so in these times of high gas prices and increasing food costs.  Food is the one thing that links every single human on earth, and is something we cannot do without.  I will continue to blog about food and sustainability, and I hope that's okay will y'all :)

Of course, sustainability is about more than food - it's about the resilience of a community to be self-sufficient, and I hope to blog a bit more about this aspect of sustainability as well.  I have been working on a few different things, and hope to share them with you eventually - I hope you are interested!

R is for...

... raptor.

Although I'm not a "real" bird watcher, I do enjoy watching them, and being able to identify most of what I see (some even by their song!).  I have this odd quirk, though, where almost everyday, I see a raptor of some sort - mostly hawks or vultures.

Yes, everyday.

There are 3 different hawks (probably red-tails, but I've never gotten close enough to really see, and I suck at raptor ID anyhow) I see daily on the way to and from work.

In Saskatoon, there was the pair of Merlins that spent their summer near one of the apartments I lived in, and that I would see on my way to work most days, and the hawk that lived year-round close to the university campus. 

There are always turkey vultures hanging around here in the warm weather, and they are easy to identify, on size alone, as they soar through the summer sky.

And the guy in the picture hung out near the house for a few days earlier this summer.

I often wonder, especially when I see so many hawks on the drive to work, am I the only one that notices them?  Or are other drivers aware of them too?  And while I'm watching the hawks, what else am I missing that other drivers see??

$500 Challenge - August edition, with special guest appearance by July.

Oh, wow - time has flown.  I had planned what I was going to get for the challenge for July and August a while ago, but put it off, since getting the items meant either paying shipping, or making a special trip to two different stores, close to each other, but about an hour away from here. 

Procrastination pays, since it ended up I needed to make a trip for another reason that would result in me driving right by these stores - so, no shipping costs, and no special trip required.  Yay!

So, without further ado, I give you July:  cutting boards.  Exciting, no? 

Like many other people, I seem to have amassed a collection of plastic cutting boards.  There is SO much information on cutting board safety out there, and so much of it is either not backed up by real science, or contradictory.  I've come to the conclusion that there are pros and cons to all materials, and so, I'll stick with wood - and just make sure the boards are cleaned well after use.  After all, wood is natural, renewable, and great for knives - the opposite of plastic.  So I made a trip to Ikea to pick up a couple of different sizes of cutting boards - the large one I plan on leaving on the counter for quick use for things that can be easily cleaned up (like bread), and smaller ones for meat, etc.

Small boards, pack of two, $6.99
Large board, $19.99
The large board is well made, and should last quite a long time, while the smaller boards are pretty much worth what I paid for them.  I'll try giving them a light sanding, and treating with food-safe oil, and hopefully that will extend their life.  

And August?  well, around here, August is canning season, so what better than to replace my old plastic canning funnel with a shiny new stainless steel one?  I've had my eye on this for a while, and I'm glad I could "justify" buying it for this challenge! 
Funnel, $11.50
And of course, I always love an excuse to go to Lee Valley :)
July costs (cutting board): $26.989 + $3.51 tax
Total: $30.49
Balance: $91.52
August costs (funnel): $11.50 + $1.50 tax
Total: $13.00
Balance: $78.04

CSA Basket 6 of 10

Beets, zucchinni zuchhini zucchini, cucumber, carrots, peppers, tomatoes, onions large and small, beans yellow, green and purple, peaches and plums and kale and amaranth (not shown).

I think the "hard" veggies will end up roasted, the tomatoes, cucumber, onions and peppers will, as usual, join some feta in a salad, and I'll do something or other with the beans and the fruit.

Oh, I should state for the record, the container of tomatoes was full.  Somehow, many of them disappeared on the drive home...

Q is for...

Image source
... question.

 To make this short (because there is laundry to do and a house to clean) - question everything. 

Any questions?

P is for...

... pathologist.

Plant pathologist, to be specific.  You see, for almost 15 years of my life, I was paid to kill plants.

Yes, to kill them.  I did research on biological weed control  - basically, finding and developing fungi that would kill weeds, without harming crop plants.

It was very cool (in a geeky way, of course) and I got to travel a lot in the summer, looking for weeds.  I'm now an expert at identifying certain weeds in crops while driving by at 80 km/h.  Really, with these talents of mine, it makes you wonder why people aren't knocking at my door, offering me a job...

I left research for various reasons, and while I miss some parts, I am very glad for the experience. And if you ever tell me that germ theory has been disproven* get ready for an argument, k?

And yes indeed, that picture is of one of my experiments!

* That is one "argument" anti-vax peeps throw out on a regular basis.  When I mention my past experience, and that I proved it, with my own two hands, almost every day for 15 years, they tend to mumble something about something, and change the topic.  Or try to explain to me that fungi only infect plants because fungi are "small plants".  Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr...............

O is for...


While some people think my O should stand for opinionated (I have NO idea why anyone would find me opinionated.  Ahem.  Moving on...), I decided to go with opportunity.

I wish to leave this earth, when my time comes, with as few regrets as possible, and one way to minimize regrets is to grab opportunities when they come our way.

Looking back on my life so far, it's not the choices I made that disappoint me, it's the opportunities I passed up, for various reasons.  And while those reasons seemed valid at the time, I still wish I had chosen differently.

Money, time, effort... all are important, but $20 in your wallet will never make up for the lost chance of having missed supper with a fascinating individual.

And oddly enough, it's that missed dinner, over 15 years ago, that has made me realize that we sometimes prioritize the wrong things in our lives.

So my O is for opportunity, and for choosing wisely which we take, and which we pass up.

N is for...

... nature.

Growing up, we were lucky to live almost at the edge of town, with a very large field across the street.  And a second very large pond in a field behind our house.  Both fields had ponds (great for skating in the winter!), and trails and trees and a thousand other interesting things.  And I was lucky enough to grow up in a time and place where it was okay to wander off by myself for hours to explore these interesting things.

And play with crayfish and frogs.

And bring home the skeletons of long-dead animals.

And snakes.  Live snakes.

Poor Mom :)

So I'm not sure if it was the influence of my childhood, or something inherent, but there is nothing better than walking through woods, or a field, or the lake shore, or along a river, watching and listening, and seeing what all lives around me. 

I think this is one of the main reasons I dislike large cities - too many human neighbours, not enough non-human ones!

Wordless Wednesdays - August 17, 2011

M is for...

Image Source
... music.

But probably not in the way you think.

I am not musically gifted.  In fact, the music teacher in grade 7-8 once told me to stop singing in choir practise - that's how bad I am at carrying a tune.

I do like listening to music, however, and grew up listening to Dad's favourite genre - rock from the 50's and 60's, mostly.

This led to a game we play called "Who Sings This?".  It's pretty self-explanatory, and there are no rules, beyond one person having to guess the singer, and if they can't, the asker comes up with hints and/or initials.

Fun times.

No, really - it is fun!  Pretty much anytime we were in the car with the radio on, someone would shout out "Who Sings This?", and it was game on.  And the rumours that we still do this, to this day, may, or may not, be true.  :)

It lasted throughout our childhoods, and we naturally infected the next generation with the bug, with some modifications brought on by technology.

Like those music channels you get on TV now, which provide the name of the singer.  Of course, the askee can't look...

... which is why you'll often find a pack of us sitting in the living room, NOT looking at the TV.

This indoctrination has also had one other side-affect, which has afflicted more than one family member.

That's called "There is a Song For Every Occasion".

The maintenance guys at work are talking about the air filters on the roof?  "Up on the Roof*", naturally.

Someone complaining about their job?  Oh, so many, from "Take this Job and Shove It**" to "It's a Five O'clock World***

Really, there is a song for EVERY occasion.  So be warned, if you ever meet me (or a family member) we may spontaneously break into song (out of tune, in my case) for no apparent reason.  And it tends to be infectious, leading to more than one person complaining about having that song stuck in their head for the rest of the day.  And since my music knowledge is firmly rooted in the era before my birth, with a good smattering in 80's one-hit wonders thrown in for good measure, people are often amazed I know the lyrics to so many obscure songs.  Especially since I can't remember where I put my keys...

Unfortunately, there is no known cure.

But really, having your Dad know who sings "True Colors****"?   Priceless :)

* The Drifters, in case you are playing "Who Sings That?'
**Johnny Paycheck
***The Vogues
****Cyndi Lauper

L is for...

... laughter.

Similar to joy, I find laughter to be a vital part of my life.  

I laugh daily - many times throughout the day. 

At someone's blog post over morning coffee, while IM chatting with a friend, while visiting with a family member, while watching TV, while reading a book.

And at the dogs, of course. Always at the dogs.

In fact, they can make me laugh the hardest. 

A good example was the other night.  I was reading* in bed (a nightly occurrence), and laughing so hard I was crying (seriously?  He got into the coffin?  Bwahahahahahahaaa!!!!).  Kip was laying there, wagging his tail, but Katy was somewhat concerned.

She showed her concern by creeping closer.  And closer.  And closer.  Until I was trying to read through tears, with a schnauzer nose in my eye.

Which, of course, made me laugh even harder.

A life without laughter is a life not worth living.  Also, a life without dogs is a life not worth living.  I'm sure those two things are not mutually exclusive :)

* Extreme Vinyl Cafe, by Stuart McLean.  The Vinyl Cafe stories often have me crying with laughter, but have left others completely unmoved.  I think you have to be a CBC listener, specifically of the Vinyl Cafe, since then you have Mr. McLean's voice in your head, reading the stories to you as you look at the words on the page.  Or it could be that I just have an odd sense of humour.  And voices in my head.  :)

K is for...

Image source

"Everyone is entitled to his own opinions, but not his own facts"

That quote, attributed to Daniel Patrick Moynihan, sums up what my K stands for.  I completely respect those whose opinions differ from mine, as long as those opinions are backed up by facts.  I have no issue with those that have looked at the same information, and drawn a different conclusion.

What I have issues with are those that are simply too lazy to learn enough about a topic to have an informed opinion.

There are somethings that are purely opinion (I hate grey cars), and those that are based on fact (vaccinations save lives).  I'm amazed by the number of people who seem to be content to have their opinions formed by others, even when those opinions should be based on facts.

And it saddens me that they can't even see the problem with their lack of knowledge.  This is similar to my "I" post, in that this ignorance, this lack of knowledge, is somehow acceptable, and even praiseworthy.

 It also worries me when education is valued only as a route to a job, rather than a goal in and of itself.  I have lost count of the number of times I have heard or read that university is worthless, because it didn't lead to a job with a six-figure salary.  I know there is a link between employment and education, and salary and education, and I realize there are some jobs where one needs a specific education (engineering, for example), but the pursuit of knowledge shouldn't be so focused.  I went to university to learn, not to get a job.  And I was surprised when I realized that wasn't the mindset of the majority of my fellow students.  When one is taught to learn, one can learn anything.

I wish I lived in a society where the pursuit of knowledge itself was seen as a worthwhile, life-long vocation.

J is for...

... joy.

I am, by nature, somewhat of a pessimist.  Actually, strike that "somewhat" :)  In fact, a friend once bought me this mug, which fits me to a tee - and I love that mug and use it for my morning coffee almost every day.

However, pessimism can lead to a worldview that is the opposite of rose-coloured glasses, and  I realized a number of years ago that happiness is something that I have to work at.  So, I set myself a task - to find at least one point of joy in every day.

The sight of yellow elm leaves against a clear bluer-than-blue Saskatoon autumn sky.

The way Kip's tail wags when I laugh.

The sound of the waves on the beach on a quiet summer's night.

The colour of the sunrise on my drive into work.

The taste of a fresh, sun-warmed tomato, of the first corn of the season, of the newly-picked fall apples.

The warmth of Katy snuggled against me on a cold winter's night.

The sight of Orion in the winter sky.

The quiet that comes after a big snowfall.

These are all normal, everyday things.  They aren't the "big" things -  winning the lottery, or getting that dream job, or a $300 purse, a perfect home, a big-screen TV.  They are things that are free, that are always there, but only if we choose to see them.

I choose to see them.

In fact, I seek them out, on a daily basis.

J is for joy, and it is all around us - we just need to recognize what it really is.  

I is for...

Most won't know who EITHER of these people are... 

... ignorance.

If there is one thing I cannot forgive in a person, it is wilful ignorance.  I see it more and more often, in so many places.

I'm not talking about a simple lack of knowledge - hey, I don't know a lot about a lot of things, and I don't expect anyone else to know more than I do.

I'm talking about how prevalent it has become to brag about how little you know, as if that's a talent worth cultivating.

 Think I'm exaggerating?  Toronto, Canada's largest city, recently elected a new mayor.  His brother was also elected to the city council.  The council has the unwelcome task of reducing the budget, and is cutting services.  Of course, this has a lot of people up in arms, but since I don't live in Toronto, I'm not going to weigh in on who's right and who's wrong (and really, when it comes to cutting services, no one wins).

One service that is on the cutting block is the public library*

A renowned Canadian author weighed in on the proposed cuts, and this was the rebuttal from the councillor:

"Well, good luck to Margaret Atwood, I don't even know her. If she could walk by me I wouldn't even have a clue who she is," Ford told reporters on Tuesday. "But she's not down here, she's not dealing with the problems, and if she did, tell her to go run in the next election and get democratically elected and we'd be more than happy to sit down and listen to Margaret Atwood."**

Not even touching the fact he thinks no one except elected officials have a voice in Canada (!!!!!), his arrogant summation of his own damn ignorance is mind-boggling!  It's his pride in his lack of knowledge that astounds me - my jaw literally dropped when I heard that comment from him.

This is an elected official in the most populated area of the country, and his is trumpeting his ignorance for all to see - like this is a good thing.

And this isn't an isolated occurrence. 

So tell me, when did knowledge become a four letter word?

* Not that it matters in this issue, but I am a *huge* fan of public libraries, and am amazed at the number of people who never go into one, and are completely unaware of the services they offer. 

**Councillor Redneck Ford needs to do a quick google search, and maybe he'll realize the world knows who Margaret Atwood is: "Doug Ford" gets just over 500,000 hits, while "Margaret Atwood" gets over 3.5 MILLION.

Oh, and Doug?  Picking up a book every-so often would be a good thing (and reading it too!).  Try your local library - it's amazing how helpful those librarians can be. 

H is for...

... handy.

I know I tend to post funny reno stories, like locking myself out of the house, almost setting the door on fire, spending day after day installing taps, but in all honesty, I tend to besomewhat handy.

Well, at least I haven't cut off any appendages, made any hospital trips, or burnt down the house.  Yet.

I can insulate a wall, put up drywall, install taps, install plugs and light fixtures, tile a floor, do drywall seams, paint a wall, shingle a roof, put up siding, install windows and doors.

I can cook dinner, plant a garden, bake a cake, can fruits and vegetables, mow a lawn, chop wood.

I can sew curtains and duvet covers, I can mend clothes by hand ... and I can embroider. 

I can even groom my dogs.

I don't necessarily like doing all of those, and am DEFINITELY not an expert in any of them, but I can and have done all of them, and more.



I try.

That's all.  I try.  I will try (almost) anything.  I know the things I can't do safely (like cut down the trees), and the things I have no interest in doing (like car repairs beyond changing an air filter), but most things, I'll try at least once. 

Some things, like tiling, I'm happy to leave to the experts afterwards.

Some, like drywall seems, I despise, but will continue doing to save money.

Others?  I find I both like doing them, and I'm not too bad at - like painting.

But my minimum is to try :)  As long as I don't burn down the house, or lock myself outside again...

G is for...

Who doesn't see Batman when they look at my blog stats?
... geek!

I admit it - I'm a total geek.

I get so excited over the geekiest things - like slime molds.  And most of my entertainment tends to be geek-based as well.

TV Shows?

Star Trek (all of them).  Babylon 5 - the first series that showed me what a story arc could actually do, and how amazing TV could be.  Buffy, of course!

And Firefly!! - who doesn't love Firefly?

"Were there monkeys? Some terrifying space monkeys maybe got loose?"

Best.  Line. EVER.

OH!!!  Big Bang Theory - pretty much the only reason I still have a TV.


Asimov, Clark, Piers Anthony (if all you've read is the Xanth series, try his Bio of a Space Tyrant sometime.  We aren't in Xanth anymore, Toto!), Baum (speaking of Toto), Bova, Bradbury, Ellison (shudder), Lovecraft (double shudder), Huxley, McCaffery, Lewis, Norton, Spider Robinson (so want to have a Callahan's in real life!).

HEINLEIN!  Should I be ashamed I have every book he's ever written?  Should I?

Oh, Douglas Adams.  Trust me on this one - driving half way across North America is best accomplished with The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy on tape playing the entire time.  Really.  And it will also improve your mileage to 42 miles a gallon.  Or something like that.

And Neil Gaiman.  I love Neil Gaiman*.  I want to have his children.  Just don't tell his wife, k?

So many great authors - so many I'm sure I forgot to list.


Too many to even start listing.  Really.

So yeah, I'm a geek.  Total geek.

I am not, however, a nerd.  If I was a nerd, my DVD player would actually be hooked up to the TV properly, so I could have that Firefly marathon (plus Serenity, of course) I've been planning for ages...

*oddly enough, I didn't know him until I was looking for a present for a friend's young daughter, and saw "The Wolves in the Walls", and picked it up, thinking what small child wouldn't like a story about wolves that live in the walls?  Ahem. Anyhow, upon giving it to the child, the father was heard to remark (ignoring the mother's somewhat horrified reaction to the book) "Neil Gamian?  COOL!!!!  You should read his stuff one day...".  And the rest, as they say, was history.

F is for...

Image credit
... fear of giant squids.

No, really.


You know the things that make a shiver go up your spine, right into that little remnant of lizard brain we all have in the middle of our skull?  Yeah, that shiver.  That's what the thought of the giant squid does to me.

And yes, I do realize I have a better chance of winning the lottery than encountering a giant squid, but logic fails in the face of irrational fear :)

I think it's the realization that this thing is huge, and exists, but we have almost NEVER seen it alive.  We know SO little about it, yet it is one of the largest animals on earth.

This animal can grow up to 43' long - that's about 1/2 the length of a blue whale, the largest living animal on earth.  Half a basketball court.  One seventh of an American football field.  Almost 8 times as tall as a 6' tall human. 

This thing is that big, and yet, it remains hidden from us. 

Hell, it's EYE is as big as my head.  Just the thought of this behemoth lurking in the ocean, without us seeing it... yerp, there goes that shiver again. 

And if you think the giant squid is bad?  Wait to you meet it's big brother - the colossal squid*.  It's a giant squid... with fangs!

After reading this, it also occurs to me that some may think F is for freak... :)

*totally not making this up.  Colossal squid are similar to giant squid, just with suckers lined with sharp hooks.  How fun!

E is for...

Image Credit
... earth.  And environment.  And education. 

Yes, I'm one of those freaky tree-hugging, granola-eating, plastic-hating freaks :)

Or, at least, I try to be.  Because E also stands for effort, and energy, and too little of either can lead to times where we all fall down, and resort to the easy (another E!) option, which is generally not the best one, environmentally speaking. 

We can argue about global warming, and peak oil, and all the rest, but I personally, based on the evidence (E!) I've seen, believe we are headed for bad times, and sooner rather than later.  

I believe we need to stop listening to those that have an economic (E!) stake in these discussions (read: politicians and oil companies), and start listening to those that are unbiased, or the least biased.  We need to learn that our resources are not unlimited, and we need the education to learn how to best use those resources.

And even if you don't think things are that bad, who doesn't love this earth of ours?  Isn't it a good goal, in and of itself, to try to reduce in our wasteful ways, the sheer amount of stuff we all seem to accumulate, to live a lifestyle that leaves enough for others, both while we are here, and after we are gone?

We only have one earth, and while it will survive right up until it gets consumed by the sun*, there is no guarantee that the human race will.  We need to start taking better care of our major resource, because it is, literally, all that we have. 

And no, I'm not perfect - in fact, far from it.  But at least I know the path I need to take, and I hope this blog will, in part, allow me to share that journey with you :)

*no worries - this is predicted to happen in ~7.6 billion years.  We still have time for another cup of (free-trade, organically grown) coffee or two :)

D is for...

... dog, naturally :)

I can't remember a time I didn't want a dog, but we were a cat family, so I waited.  I waited until I was done school, and until I owned my own house.  And finally, after more than 30 years of waiting, I got a Kipper.  And then a Katy. 

They make me laugh.  They warm my back and my feet on cold winter nights.  They give me a reason to get out and walk, and to stop and talk to my neighbours.  They have even allowed my neighbour to lose a bit of her fear of dogs, as she gives them their daily treat, and they gain weight ;)

They bring joy into my life - joy to see Katy learn to play, to see Kip learn a new skill.  The joy I see on the faces of those that love them, and the joy the dogs give in response.  The joy they have when I come home, when I toss a ball, and, best of all, when I open the magic white box that contains their food.

Dogs are in our lives for such a short time, and they will eventually bring me heartache - but it is so worth it.

I waited over 30 years, and I won't be without a dog in my life ever again.  So here's to dogs, all dogs, and to Kip and Katy - you give us so much, and all you ask in return is a warm bed, a full tummy, and a scritch or two after a game of fetch.  We owe you so much for the laughter and joy you bring to us - I promise I'll try to walk you more often, and yes, I will get you that fence you've been asking for!

CSA Basket 5 of 10

I cannot believe the CSA is half over! 

In related news, I also cannot believe it's August already.

However, I am enjoying the fact it is corn season, and you can't have one without the other!

In this week's basket, we have carrots, green onions, a bunch of parsley, lots of peppers, a few tomatoes (first of the year!), a selection of peaches and plums (yeah!!), more corn (double yeah!!), some beans, kale, a cucumber, a  zuchinni zucchinni zucchini and a green pattypan, and a little something extra:

Pesto butter!  I can't wait to try it on the corn :)

The zuchinni zucchinni zucchini and the pattypan have a date with some sausage on the grill, the kale might join some eggs and bacon for breakfast - along with some tomato slice - I LOVE tomato with eggs!  The rest of the tomatoes, cucumber, onions and sweet peppers will become a salad, probably for lunches along with the feta I have in the fridge, and the corn....  oh, I have something special planned for the corn, so stay tuned!

C is for...

... Canadian.

Of course :)

The true north, strong and free.  The land of the double-double and Timbits, of canoeing and curling.  Of vast forests and amazing cities, of never-ending shoreline, and breathtaking arctic vistas.  The breadbasket of the world.

A land known for hockey, and ironically enough, politeness*.  A land where we apologize when you bump into us :)  A country where I can eat at restaurants from cuisines from around the world - English, and French, of course, but also Greek, and Italian, and Lebanese and Indian, and Turkish and German and Chinese, and Thai, and Japanese - even Ethiopian (amazing - try it if you ever get the chance!).  No good BBQ though :)

A land where, even with over 30 million people, we still tend to know each other.  A land where I can sit next to a complete stranger, start talking, and in 10 minutes realize she was the maid of honour at my co-worker's nephew's wedding.  A land where you can walk out of a store in a town 4000 km away from your home, and run into your neighbour.  A land where people still tend to say hello to each other on the street, or at least nod their heads, and where you are expected to wave to a passing driver on a country road.

A land that runs  a mari usque ad mare - a phrase that has been in my memory for over 25 years - since I first saw it, emblazoned in the Memorial Chamber of Parliament, where the name of each and every Canadian soldier to die in service is recorded.  Every day, a page is turned in the books, so our war dead are always remembered. 

A land of comedians, and inventors, of humanitarians and musicians.  A land where a politician is expected to be satirized (does anyone else miss Marg, Princess Warrior?), and can become famous for flippin' the bird.

A land of fresh water, good soil, amazing skies, and great people.  Most of all, my home.

Let me apologize in advance if this comes across as too patriotic.  Can I get you a double-double to make it up to you?   ;)

A few years back, I went to Scotland.  A Scottish couple (complete strangers) picked me out as being Canadian, since *I* kept apologizing to *them* for getting jostled while in a crowd watching the bagpipes at Edinburgh Castle ;)

Wordless Wednesdays - August 3, 2011

B is for...

Image credit

Last time I counted, I owned over 500 books.  The vast majority of those I've read more than once, although I do own a few that I have yet to read even once (War and Peace comes to mind...).

I almost always have more than one book on the go (and no, I don't have a problem keeping them straight).  I have books in both bathrooms, beside my bed, and in the living room.  If I know I'm going to be doing something that consists of a lot of waiting (airplane travel, doctor's offices, etc.), I try to remember to take a book. 

If I forget?  I'll read anything that's there.  Books, magazines, advertisements - and yes, even those informational pamphlets in the doctor's office that have been there since 1986, and that no one else ever reads.

I even read instruction manuals.

And the worst thing about owning so many books?  Moving.

What's your B?

A is for...

... atheist.

Yep, you heard me.  This is the first time I've publicly proclaimed it, but I figured this was a good time to get it out in the open :)

I'm not stating this to be offensive to anyone, or to open up a debate about religion, morality, etc., but it is a fairly important fact about me, and goes hand-in-hand with a lot of other of my traits, good and bad.

I figure each person's religion, or lack there of, is a private issue and it doesn't matter to me what you believe - I'm more concerned with how someone behaves, rather than where they happen to be on a Sunday morning (or Friday, or Saturday, as the case may be).  I've known some incredible religious people, and some atheist asses.

But I do get concerned when I see public policy being based on a religion, rather than on something like scientific fact or democratic consensus.  I get concerned when I see public officials deciding to rely on a "Day of Prayer", rather than facing the source of the issue and taking concrete action.  I really get concerned when I see the education system being subverted by small religious factions, especially when education is, IMO, one of the keystones of our society.

Now, this blog isn't going to suddenly turn into an Atheist's Screed - if you are interested, there are some INCREDIBLE atheist blogs out there, and even more blogs written by atheists that aren't strictly about atheism.  And if I ever get around to finishing the changes to this blog, I might list a few of my favourites :)

So, what's your A?

Alphabet in August

A neat little challenge for this month - come up with a word or phrase for each letter of the alphabet, that describes you, and post it for that day. 

This challenge is from Chiot's Run - a great blog for all those who don't know about it already.

So, get ready, get your thinking caps on, and we'll begin with "A" tomorrow.  Who's in?


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