Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Ocho Candelas

It's not a secret I love Christmas and Hanukkah. I also see no reason why I can't have both!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Angelina Ballerina

Summary: With Katharine Holabird's lively writing and Helen Craig's charming illustrations, the original story about the feisty little mouse who wants nothing more than to dance still keeps young ballerinas leaping with delight.

Why I recommend it: (There's a theme) because I loved it. It may not have made me want to be a ballerina, but I loved Angelina. I had a stuffed animal and everything.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Back in the New York Groove

It's not overly common knowledge, but certainly not a secret (or a surprise to those who know her) that my mom's a New Yorker.  We used to spend summers in Queens, were I'd watch the local older kids play handball in the park, eat the lemon gelato in the tiny cups with a wooden spoon and wander around the neighbourhood to get a soda or play with kids I only saw once a year. In an attempt at bribery, we would go to a few Broadway shows (Crazy for You and Will Rogers Follies were favourites) and I'd otherwise entertain myself surrounded with family.

I loved it - I'd go from small town Stratford, or (I thought) big city Toronto to Queens New York City, where by the time I came home I almost didn't speak understandable English, with the mix of spanishyiddishslangnewyork spoken at a speed that only New Yorkers can master with an odd accent that would usually fade by October.

There is a point to this. The point is I always came back from Queens with a new perspective - or as much of a perspective as a kid can have. I feel like that now.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

of shoes and ships and sealing wax

I don't think I'll ever understand job hunting. I had an amazing interview a week or so ago, where everything was perfect. The people interviewing me were great, the library was amazing, there was growth it was perfect as I said. What wasn't perfect is that it's 4 provinces away. I applied on a whim, not thinking at all that I would even get an interview.  But I did - and not only did I, I had a great interview - and now they're flying me four provinces away for a second interview.

I should be thrilled. OK, I am thrilled. It just got me thinking - every friend I tell here the first thing they say is "why aren't you just taking a job here?" I tell them I haven't had any callbacks, and then the inevitable "wait - Library X is FLYING you four provinces away... and nowhere close by is even calling you back?"

So... what this tells me is all I need is a chance, and I can do great things.

Edit: I got the job, but it wasn't as perfect as it seems. Indexing is going well, I can wait for an actually perfect job.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

I miss my dog.

I'm in Waterloo house-sitting for mom. My boyfriend decided he couldn't emotionally handle (no seriously) being away from his baby (no seriously) for 2 weeks, so he has him in Toronto this week, and I'll have him here next week.  I've not determined I'm that person. Maybe it's because usually when I'm here alone, Gambit's here. We go to the river, meet up with his siblings and generally have a good time.

Now, all I have are mom's cats. While I love them dearly, it's just not the same.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Where the heart is

I'm house/cat sitting for my mom while she's in Hawai'i for two weeks for her peace corps reunion.   I love being out in the country - I feel like I can breathe again. I love the city just as much, but something about coming out here is so... relaxing.

When we moved here, it was in the middle of nowhere, all farms, pastures, orchards and the river I've posted so many pictures of. It was so quite when I was 15 and first came here from Toronto. I remember not being to sleep - even when I lived in Stratford we lived down the street from the hospital and sirens were a constant. Here there was nothing - I woke up last night wondering what the noise was, and lo, it was rain.

I'm still not sure where my homes is - I'm pretty certain it's not Toronto, I don't know if it's W'loo but I do know that it involves a fireplace, several animals and a herb garden, an outdoor that's big enough to not see the neighbours, and a house big enough to have everyone over.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Why I remember

Remembrance Day is a hard day for me.

My Grandpa was from Newfoundland, and was a rock - little could phase him, and he always looked for the best in people. He was in the Merchant Marines during WWII - he was on the great lakes, and while he had a few close calls, he had an easier experience then most. He spent the last half of the war doing construction in Canada for the Army - close to home and safe. The Legion was a huge part of his life - he was there with "the boys" every Thursday through Sunday inclusively. I remember him taking me to sell Poppy's, and how he'd always pin one on me, and tell me he was so thankful he could. He could never tell me why he was thankful. I remember him asking and him telling me he would tell me when I was older.

I don't know if he ever knew how well I understood what he could never put into words. My mom's side of the family was on the flip side of the same coin during WWII. I have relatives who were in Auschwitz Birkenau, Treblinka and Chelmno. Some survived, most didn't. Of my Bubbies 12 siblings, 3 lived, and of my Zaidy's family he and his brother survived.

I'm not going to get into the details, but my mom was born in a refugee camp in Germany in '46 - my grandparents were in a mix of internment camps and on the run in Siberia during the war. They escaped, but they knew their families didn't.  My Grandpa never needed to tell me why he was thankful, because I already knew. I remember being sat down as a child, and being shown the numbers tattooed on my great aunt's arm. My mom was horrified - she thought I'd have nightmares. I didn't have nightmares, but to this day it's something I have trouble with - I only dwell three days a year, and Remembrance Day is one of those days. 

I'll never forget any of my grandparents. Neither side of them knew the other well, but they taught me to remember, to hope, and to never give up.

Friday, October 28, 2011

It's a Book

Summary: Playful and lighthearted with a subversive twist that is signature Lane Smith, IT'S A BOOK is a delightful manifesto on behalf of print in the digital age. This satisfying, perfectly executed picture book has something to say to readers of all stripes and all ages.

Why I recommend it: Because I just got it last year, and I love it. It's my go-to present for baby showers, kids birthday's and pretty much anything. I give it to Adults, kids, and even the odd teenager. It's pretty fabulous

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Man of The Century

Summary: "I am the spy of the century," said Woodrow Lowe, age 108, to his interviewer. "I was also a white slave, a heavyweight contender, the ruler of China [until the Dowager Empress cruelly deposed him], and the man who started World War I; and if you don't believe me, you can get out of my house." Were the ancient husk's pronouncements those of a liar or madman? At first it seemed the answer to both was yes. Yet over the years emerged unimpeachable evidence of these and many other feats. Man of the Century is Woodrow Lowe's story, unlike any ever remembered or read. He fought John L. Sullivan in the Dakotas; he was the first man up San Juan Hill during the charge of the Rough Riders and stood with Teddy Roosevelt at his Second Inaugural (Teddy bailed him out more than once). He carried off Archduke Franz Ferdinand's assassin, never to be heard from again. He was a slave of the Dervish in the Sudan. Diamond Jim Brady met his match in Woodrow. He was the blond boyo who, a club fighter with a distinctive cauliflower ear (thanks to John L.), found himself mixed in with a century of American and world history, and, remarkably, lived to tell about it in his fashion, at once a rollicking, shrewd recital, dramatized to the hilt, that defied the challenge of the dry historiographies, and created a fulsome story filled with characters - real and some mythic you'll never forget.

Why I Recommend it: This is in no way the best book ever written. It's not overly popular, well known and I believe it didn't even make it to paperback printing. The thing is, I have no idea why. I read. A Lot. And this book is wonderful. I love it. It's funny, well written, the characters are appealing and it seems at the same time fantastical and realistic. I love it, though I can't put my finger on why. It's more than worth a read if you can find it, your best bet is ABEBooks or the Library.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Carl at the Dog Show

Summary: Madeleine''s mom has to help Carl''s Cousin, Gamble, get ready to compete in his event at the dog show, and she tells Carl and Madeleine to meet her by the show ring. Do Carl and Madeleine listen? Of course not! They immediately set off to explore--they help groom other dogs, have a snack, test out dog beds, create an agility test of their own--all with hilarious results and mom none the wiser. With its minimal text and Alexandra Day''s signature art, CARL GOES TO THE DOG SHOW is sure to please Carl fans, Rottweiler lovers, and dog enthusiasts of all sorts.

Why I recommend it: My dog is technically a show dog, and I'm always struck by how many kids are at dog shows. I'm not a rabid pure-breed fanatic, I think rescue is important, and have done my fair share of rescue. That being said, I also usually suggest that for first time dog owners, a purebreed dog from a reputable (and I can't emphasize that enough) breeder gives you some security in what you're getting out of the dog, and support for the dog. If you're getting a pure breed dog, looking into the breed is important, and one of the best places for meeting the dogs, seeing what they're like in full show coat, and seeing how the breeders treat their show dogs. It's a complicated world, but it's usually a good sign of how a breeder treats their dog at home, with how they treat them at a show!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Balloon Tree

Summary: Balloons! They are the favourite playthings of Princess Leora. When her father, the king, goes to a neighbouring kingdom to participate in a tournament, he tells Leora to signal him with balloons if anything goes wrong. But the archduke, planning to take over the kingdom, promptly locks the princess in her room and orders all the balloons in the kingdom to be popped. With the help of a wizard and a boy with the only balloon left in the kingdom, Leora is able to plant a balloon tree that blossoms into thousands of balloons. But will it be in time to save the kingdom?

Why I recommend it: Oh, hey. Look! It's Phoebe Gilman again! She's brilliant. Read everything.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


I went to Stratford the other week, for a few reasons. I stayed with family (obviously) and while I was rifling through the attic (what else do you do when you go to family?) (clearly you rifle through the attic) and I found a few pictures of when I was a kid. As my cousin said to me after posting them on Facebook, I still look the same. No really. I even have the same haircut - that's a little creepy. 

So, here's to yester-years, and the future. Here's to good choices, and bad, here's to hindsight being 20-20 and there's to taking risks and adventure.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Enchanted Forest Chronicles

Summary: Cimorene, the youngest princess of the Kingdom of Linderwall, is frustrated by her cloistered, sheltered life. Unlike her petite, blonde, blue-eyed sisters, who can "gaze up through their long eyelashes" at their various suitors, Cimorene, tall, dark-haired and intelligent, is not satisfied with the stifling and close-minded interests of her parents and their kingdom. She is bored with her "proper" lessons in etiquette, embroidery, dancing, and how loudly to scream when being carried off by a giant.

Why I recommend it: This series is second only to the Immortals, and even that is arguable. It's a princess, who doesn't want to be a princess, who runs off to live with Dragons and refuses to be rescued. This is another series that to this day I re-read, recommend and love. Brilliant. Strangely, Patricia C. Wrede also wrote Snow White and Rose Red, fairytale fantasy (for adults) (no really, it's way more... mature), being a retelling of the Brothers Grimm fairy tale "Snow White and Rose Red" (not "Snow White") set in Elizabethan England and including elements of the Thomas the Rhymer ballad as well

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Sunday, October 2, 2011


Sometimes, I wonder what's wrong with my dog. Sometimes, I also wonder what he's thinking. He's pretty shaggy, and I'm pretty sure he thinks he's a human (no really, not in the crazy way that like "oh he's my baby" but in the way I'm fairly sure he thinks we're idiots. Maybe not a human. Maybe just a cat) like in the picture below.

Why doe he need a pillow? We don't GIVE him the pillow, he'll steal it off my roommates bed. And then drag it to where he wants it. And then steal the other pillow off the bed and put it on top of the first pillow. That... is totally normal. Right Please?

Then there's this one. First Gambit decided he had to take the bottom part of his bed out. Then I'm... fairly sure the Tigger toy kicked him out of his bed, but I'm unsure how it managed to take Gambit on and win. I picture it as some sort of a death match, but that's just me.
I'm unemployed guys. This stuff keeps me up at night.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Super Secret Guilty Reading Pleasures.

I have a theory that everyone has some sort of guilty pleasure reading. There's always a scale of how guilty a pleasure it is - something you fess up to openly, to close friends and to nobody. So, in light of full disclosure, here are my top 5 guilty pleasure books, authors or series:

1. Spider Robinson: Callahan's Crosstime Saloon. This book was publishes in 1997, and found it I believe in about 1999. I was still in high school, and seeing how it's set in a bar I have no idea how I managed to find it. I LOVED it - my copy of it is pretty much destroyed, it's been with me for every move, and it's still my go-to novel to read when I want a laugh. Not only is Spider one of my favourite authors ever, as is almost everything he wrote, this book set the tone for why I love Sci-fi.

2. Tanya Huff's Wizard of the Grove is a compilation of 2 of her novels, and is the first of her many series I've picked up over the years. I love this book - I got it about the same time I got Callahan and it's why to this day I have a bad habit of fantasy books. I proceeded to read almost every series she's written, and not only have I loved them, but everyone I've recommended them to has loved them too!

3. David Eddings - pretty much everything. Yeah, I'm one of those people. I read the series backwards, starting with Polgara the Sorceress, and then read most of what he's written (except the Elder Gods series, for which I have no actual good reason to not have read. I got this book the same time I got Wizard of the Grove, and I loved it. I love everything he's written - his writing defines my relationship with one of my closes friends, it's what kept us in contact for years.

4. I'm going to cheat for this one. #4 is urban fantasy - from Jim Butcher to Seanan McGuire right now when I want mindless fun this is the genre that I look to for for something that will make me laugh. It took me forever to go here - I was a traditionalist when it came to sci-fi/fantasy for years. I'll admit I was a snob about what I read, and what I read was the classics: Heinlin, Lackey and the like were who I looked towards. Now, I've broadened my horizons!

5. J.D Robb's In Death series. Yeah. I'm going there. I love this series. Of ALL the things, I started reading it with my mom as a bit of mindless fluff when we needed something entertaining for a trip to Mexico a solid 10 years ago. Mildly inappropriate? Perhaps. But to this day I can't wait to buy the latest copy of this futuristic NOT ROMANCE romance series.

Bonus! Clive Cussler. When I first started dating my boyfriend, we started talking about favourite series. I told him what I liked, in a rare fist few dates bout of honesty, he gave me the weirdest look and then lent me Raising the Titanic. I was baffled. I tell him my secret reading is fantasy, and he hands me a thriller? I LOVED it. Finding out it was a movie? I will watch that movie anytime, anywhere - even if it's horribly not true to book form. I love this series (and I love more Clive Cussler is that much of a lunatic in real life.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Jillian, Jillian Jillian Jiggs

Summary: No one can keep up with Jillian Jiggs. With boundless energy and imagination, Jillian rushes from game to game. One minute she''s a robot, the next minute she''s a tree. How can she take time to clean up her room when there are so many wonderful things to make and do? No one knows what Jillian will think of next- especially not her mother!

Why I recommend it: I Loved this book when I was a kid. Loved. I remember Jillian Jiggs and her pigs. It's funny, endearing, and memorable. Read it, you'll love it.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

To a new year (sort of, not really) and summers past.

I don't know if it's because the majority of my life has been spent in school, or working with kids IN school, but I've always felt that September is the new year - not January. So, here's looking back at some of my summers.

I've had some pretty amazing summer jobs. My first ones in high school were at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, Arts Alive! day camp & a few other arts camps. In university, I also lucked out - I ran my own company for a summer selling fair trade bags made of recycled materials, went on an archaeology dig in Italy then went to China. After I went to China, I was faced again with needing a summer job, but living in Waterloo meant most of the summer jobs there were already taken by local students who didn't go learn Mandarin & Chinese history for a summer.

In a mild fit of panic, in my last week in China I applied to a job at a summer camp in Waterloo, the day of my flight home I confirmed that later the day I landed I had an interview for the job. I wasn't entirely sure what I was thinking, but I stumbled off the plane, explained to my mom I needed a shower and a ride, and went to the interview. I remember having the interview, and at the end of it, looking at my (future) boss and telling her "Look. I just got off a 18 hour flight. I'm a little bit crazy, but I love working with kids, I love art & I promise I'm usually more coherent". Turns out, that's what got me the job.

That's kind of how I feel right now - like I just got off a plane and am looking for that one right job. It's almost perfect timing: Autumn, new year, new job is coming, and the weather is getting cooler.

So, here's to Autumn.

The Immortals Series

Summary: The Immortals quartet, by Tamora Pierce, is the story of Veralidaine Sarrasri (known as Daine), an orphan with an unusual talent: she can speak with animals. Veralidaine (Daine) Sarrasri who was orphaned when raiders attacked her village. Daine has an unusual (and extremely strong) gift of wild magic which is mistaken as insanity because she is unable to control it . Though convinced she has no magical Gift, it is discovered that she has 'wild magic' - a magic that is not uncommon, but for some reason is a disregarded branch of magic. What is rare is the amount of it that Daine possesses, and what she is able to do with it. This magic gives her a unique connection with animals. Her abilities manifest gradually throughout the series, allowing her first to speak with animals, to heal their injuries and eventually to shape-shift into animal forms. The series covers a timespan of four years, following Daine as she learns to communicate with humans, animals and Immortals.

Why I recommend it: This is arguably the best series for teenage girls ever written. Daine is identifiable, courageous and entertaining. Most of my friends read this growing up, and each of them had the same reaction I did - to this day we still re-read it, and name it as the best series we ever read. The covers change, but the series is always more then worth a read. Every one of Tamora Pierce's series is well worth a read, but start with this one - no matter how old you are!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Danger in the Painting Field

"Meanwhile, in the painting field, Old Witch laughed her "heh-hehs" and "he-he-hes" while swooping here and there, picking up egg after egg (rocks) and ravenously swallowing them whole, eating them as appetizers for the real feast to come - rabbits!"

Shortening up a lot of moving, I spent most of my childhood in Stratford, and most of my time there was spent at the library. I remember getting books on tape for trips (remember when books came with a book AND a tape? in the plastic bag with a handle? yeah. awesome), I remember story time, I remember getting so excited on friday night when I got to take home a movie and I remember going through the children's section for HOURS for a new few books to take home and begging my mom to take just one more book home. I also remember loving certain books, and taking them out again and again and again, a trait that's continued on to this day.

The Witch Family, by Eleanor Estes was one of those books. I LOVED this book. I remember reading it so many times, mom caved and bought it for me (though, I'm not sure it was caving, books weren't a present in my house, they were a fact) and I read it again and again and again. I forgot the name of the book for years, and on a whim Googled "Witches on a glass hill" and found the book today. I was shocked at how many people were looking for the same book - for the past 35 odd years, people have loved this book.

I'm not going to lie - I just bought it again.

""May I go down tonight?" asked the little witch girl. "please, please, please say yes. I'd love to be seen on my broomstick in the light of the moon."

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Barbet Fanciers Picnic!

I skitzed out, and forgot to use my camera I very carefully remembered to bring. So many thanks to Judy Preston who took the pictures I'm posting!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

A lot of time at the River

I'm taking advantage of the fact that I'm right on a river, with a lovely trail, and a 5 month old puppy who's SUCH a good boy off leash!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Where I'm going, where I've been.

My mom's in NYC for the week - she grew up there and can only handle staying away for so long. So, I'm house-sitting. More exactly, cat-sitting, but that's semantics. It's strange being in the house I grew up in (from grade 9-12, but still) alone. I went from having an amazing job at a huge grocery chain's head office, to nothing when my boss quit and the company threw me under the bus in... punishment? I don't know. After he left, it was awful - weeks of not doing anything, sitting at my desk and listening to people whisper about me.

The point is, when I left the company, I was faced again with What do I want to do with my life. I was never sold on a corporate job - I fell into the position with extreme luck, and was fortunate enough to have an amazing boss who taught me a huge amount in a short short time. When that finished, I don't know if there's much in that world for me. What I DO know is there there's a lot outside that world for me. When I was there, I missed everything I loved about the information field - working with people, different people to solve every changing and dynamic problems, answer fun, intriguing, interesting and complex questions, meeting new people and most importantly, helping people find what they need.

Coming to Waterloo, to mom's (sometimes) dark and scary (usually) peaceful and beautiful acre on the river helped me get my priorities in line. I applied for a job in Edmonton, and withdrew my application. I'm not ready to leave and go west to the different and unknown. I think I wouldn't mind it, but I think I'd rather go back out East if I have to move, but really I'd rather stay in Ontario - anywhere in Ontario. I'm ready for another adventure, and I'm ready to figure out exactly what it is that I want out of life. My feelings about living in Toronto are generally complicated. I love this city, it's where I was born, raised on and off, and where I came back to. I love the people, the feeling, and the energy. But I do miss the quiet. I love my field, I just need to figure out what I love the most about it - what my niche is, and where in it I belong. I miss working in the community, and being part of a community. I don't like I can't volunteer because I don't want to make a commitment that I might have to break.

So, here's to not knowing what you want, not knowing where and how to find it, but knowing that you will.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

You would almost think it's different dogs...

Water Dog in Water:

Water Dog on Land:

It occurs to me this blog is boring. Unless you're a librarian.

And maybe you like Barbets. SO.

2 tsp sugar
1 tsp simple syrup
Juice of 1 lime
2-3 sprigs mint
Soda Water
Havana Club Rum

Muddle (aka crush) Sugars, lime, mint. Add Soda water and Rum. Maybe Ice. To change it up, throw in some fresh cherries, passion fruit or cucumber!

Sangria (Roja):
1 Bottle Red Wine (I like Torro)
Fresh Fruit (Lime, Grapefruit, Orange, Peach, Cherries, Strawberries, Passion Fruit... anything)
1 cup Orange Juice
1 can Fanta Naranja (orange) or Lemon (Look, I lived in Spain. I know this is what they do. really)
2 cups mixed fruit Juice - AYTHING. no really, any mixed fruit juice works

Throw fruit in a jug. Mix in Juice. Stir. Drink. Good for 2 days! I made this batch with just citrus - change it up!