I’ve spent the past week conked out in bed and sprawled across the couch with The Mother of All Head Colds.
Flus. Flues. Influenzas. Even though I know better now, I can’t quite shake my childhood belief that if you have a runny nose/sore throat/cough, you have a cold and if you’re barfing, you have the flu. Whatever. I was sick. Unfortunately, I was so sick I didn’t get as much reading done as one might expect considering I was horizontal for 23.5 hours out of every 24.
But I did read this:
Writing Life: Celebrated Canadian and International Authors on Writing and Life. From the back cover: “Provocative, candid, often very funny, personal, and passionately engaged, this inspired collection will take readers deep into the heart of the writing life.”
I love anthologies for the exposure to new voices and always come away with a list of authors to seek out. Seek out their work, I mean, not the authors themselves. Ugh, it’s nice to realize my brain fog hasn’t lifted much. Anyway, this anthology is no different: my love for Lisa Moore and Lynn Coady was re-affirmed and my hopelessly long reading list now includes Eden Robinson, Shyam Selvadurai, Susan Swan and Michael Winter. Of course, anthologies are also helpful in pointing out authors to avoid; if they can annoy, bore or ostracize me within ten short pages or so, I don’t need to suffer through a whole book, thanks.
The other great thing about this particular collection is the topic: writing. Ooooh. I love a good book about writing. I love hearing about the experiences of published authors, love collecting tidbits of information here and there as if it will somehow help me. I’m a kid again, sitting on the stairs eavesdropping on my older sister and her friends and being impatient to be a teenager too since they obviously had everything cool and exciting and all I had was stupid used roller skates with ugly silver stars on the sides and an eight o’clock bedtime.
I am a voyeur when it comes to writers and want to know it all – the writing schedules, the struggles with confidence, the thrill of success, the reality of making ends meet, the challenge of raising children, the attitudes toward readers and critics. This collection didn’t have a lot of that nitty gritty detail, but I still enjoyed it. Most of it. But that’s the pleasure of a collection, right? It’s like a box of chocolates. Eat the ones you like and pass the rest off on your co-workers.
As the kids get older, I find Christmas more and more enjoyable with every passing year. Sure, babies and toddlers are cute and it’s fun to dress them up and watch them scream their guts out on Santa’s knee, but they’re also needy and irritable and poop a lot, none of which are qualities I purposely seek out in friends and companions. This pre-teen age, however, is perfect. They aren’t too jaded or “cool” to be excited about Christmas, they hide themselves away for hours before Christmas to make gifts for everyone and, most importantly, they no longer beg for big, noisy, obnoxious, battery-devouring toys that make me want to hurl them (the toys, not the kids) into the driveway and back over them. Repeatedly.
No, now they want books and clothes and make-up and technology. They want to walk into Future Shop and take one of everything, essentially. Which would be expensive, but still better than having a house that looks like a Toys R Us.
Here are the young revellers, modelling t-shirts and a new tiger hat:
And here’s Foster, ever-so-slightly pleased with his new Wii game:
And Charlotte (for whom every day is Hallowe’en), cuddled up with Glen in a new fuzzy blanket:
And Anna, trying to put on Glen’s new parka:
See that poor dog? That right there is the definition of resignation. Look at his limp little limbs. Why bother struggling? Just let the giant, pink, tiger-headed girl have her way and eventually she’ll get distracted and move on to something else. Fortunately, he received a ton of new toys and treats to make up for the humiliation.
My birthday, on the other hand, never seems to become more enjoyable. I turned 39 (shriek! how can this be?) on December 28 and my lovely family took me out for Chinese food before bribing me with gifts to continue doing their laundry for another year, then presented me with this:
Cupcakes decorated to look like balls of yarn. How cute is that?
Well well well, that was quite the blast we received on Monday night. It probably does not reflect well on Environment Canada that they’ll spend a week inciting panic in anticipation of a monster hurricane that turns out to be an hour of drizzle and a stiff breeze, yet no one I’ve spoken to had any idea this storm was coming. It was about the worst I’ve ever experienced and while we had minor property damage (our chimney fell off the roof and our composter blew away, believe it or not), we were very lucky compared to many of our neighbours.
Our next door neighbours lost a whole bunch of shingles, a chunk of their shed’s roof and several big trees, but at least a power line didn’t fall on their house, as it did further down the street. And thank goodness one of those big old trees didn’t slice through their house, as happened in New Minas, a town not far from here. Our particular little neighbourhood was also lucky in that our power and telephone service were restored after only 15 hours; my parents (who live five minutes away) went without for 43 hours.
This is an example of what an awful lot of trees around here look like now:
Or they look like this one, just down the street:
Here’s a shot of the telephone poles along our street:
Between our house and the area in this shot, the poles snapped the other way and the live wires were lying on the road. I was tempted to stop and whip out the camera, but thought the Mountie sitting there might not approve.
Oh, and the super-mailboxes (are they still called that?) were toppled:
Here’s another one of leaning poles, not far from my parents’ house:
And the traffic light at the intersection was gone. Note the dangling wires. I wonder whose window it crashed through.
Look carefully and behind the trees you’ll see a collapsed barn:
Church Street was blocked by a fallen tree:
And further up Middle Dyke Road, the metal roofing of a barn was peeled back like a tin of sardines:
Tree meets wires:
And road sign meets ground:
These shots, from our immediate area, are a fraction of the local damage. In New Minas, the golf course reportedly lost about a hundred big trees and a trailer park had to be evacuated mid-storm because the roofs were being blown off and/or being crushed by falling trees. The roof of a funeral parlour in Kentville was blown away and a young man was almost crushed in his car by a falling tree in Windsor. In our own village, the roof was torn off an unoccupied building, causing so much damage the whole thing was bulldozed on Tuesday.
The worst part is this storm didn’t even have a name. In Nova Scotia, everything is Hurricane Juan this and Hurricane Juan that, but here in the Valley, we have nothing. It’s “that thing on Monday night.” Or “wow, that was a hell of a whatever-it-was, wasn’t it?” How will we reminisce with something so unwieldy? Without a snappy name everyone recognizes? I demand satisfaction, Environment Canada.
It’s out of character, granted, but I don’t have much to say these days. That is probably because I spend every moment flailing frantically, trying to keep my head above water. I know being busy is better than the alternative and I can rest when I’m dead and all those other condescending (and morbid) expressions people throw in your face after asking how you are and hearing the response, “Busy.”
I don’t say I’m busy because I want sympathy (I chose to take on most of my current responsibilities, after all) or because it makes me sound important (aside from being the only one around here to remember everyone’s birthdays, I’m completely replaceable); I say it because it’s true. I have a lot on the go, too much on the go, and I’m struggling to make it all work. I have the bad feeling something has to give and I’m not sure what that something will be. I’ve already jettisoned exercise, all creative pursuits and a social life, so what next? Personal hygiene? Eating? Sleeping?
So, upon realizing I had nothing to write about except my insane daily schedule, I decided to have a look through the past several months of photos on Anna’s digital camera in the hopes of finding a nice picture or two. What I found was…interesting. Anna’s camera is used by everyone (except The Boy Wonder, who seems to have no desire to prance around taking photos with a tiny, pink camera) and as the photographer gets younger and younger, the photos get weirder and weirder. I’ll spare you the countless shots of Lego constructions, Littlest Pet Shop posters, blurry shots of the dog and deeply unflattering close-ups of the humans. (Most important lesson I learned this afternoon: I have no good side.)
But I did find this:
Anna took this in our office the other day and I call it, “Forbidden Embrace in Office Supply Closet.” It isn’t in a closet and they’re free to embrace, but I think it adds a little excitement and mystery, don’t you?
Oh, and this:
I took this shot on a home-schooling field trip to Halifax to visit the Museum of Natural History and the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. I call it “Sullen City Bird.” He agreed to this photo in exchange for a french fry.
“Bald Eagle Contemplating Small Dog for Afternoon Snack.” This photo was taken by Charlotte, I think. It might have been Anna. I can’t remember, but I’m sure they’ll waste no time in correcting me if I’m wrong.
And continuing the bird theme:
“Outside my Dirty Kitchen Window an Osprey Takes Flight.” Shot by me a couple days ago. Not shot shot.
And then I found two photos, also taken by me, that beg for an expanded collection:
Caterpillar on pavement.
Giant slug on pavement.
How exciting to have a new project.