Category Archives: Life

Thursday Snapshot: Unpacking, Little by Little

It’s been a week and a day since the big move, and I haven’t made much of a dent in terms of the unpacking. But I hit on a plan today that seems to be working. You see, right now I’m drowning in work deadlines, which is why I have no time for unpacking. But I also hurt my neck a while ago—not that my neck actually hurts, it’s my upper arm that’s sore but my physiotherapist tells me it’s definitely sore because of my neck. So the thing is, I have to take breaks while I’m working.

I am terrible about taking breaks. I tend to get all focused on a deadline and suddenly I look up and geez, will you look at that—eight hours have passed by! Yes, it can get that bad. But the thing with an arm that hurts is this: it simply won’t let you sit at the keyboard and plough through the day and night like that.

So I’ve been taking breaks. And during my breaks, I’ve been slowly, oh so slowly, getting my books onto my book shelves. And it’s working! I’m getting unpacked and my arm is feeling much much better.


Time: 5:08 pm

Feeling: Tired, but in a good way.

Eating: You really don’t want to know. Let’s just say I’ve been surviving mainly on frozen foods from the grocery store, okay?

Drinking: Truckloads of coffee. But since I only let myself have one caffeinated coffee a day, it’s truckloads of decaf coffee, so I’m not anywhere near as wired as that first sentence suggests.

Reading: Yes, I’m reading! Even with the deadlines and the unpacking, I’ve been managing to find little, tiny pockets of time. Why? Because this is the book I picked up from the library earlier this week:


I’m really enjoying it so far; this is the first one in the Cormoran Strike series I’ve read rather than listened to, and it’s definitely a good read.

Listening: Since I’m using those little, tiny pockets of time to read Career of Evil, I haven’t had any leftover time to listen to an audiobook. But it’s a good trade-off. I’m just happy to be reading again.

Writing: I tried. I really did. I wrote about 2,500 words on November 1. But then I didn’t write at all on November 2. And on November 3, I said to myself, you know what? I’m going to use this year’s Nanowrimo to help me get back into writing daily. So I’ll write a little bit each day and consider it a win.

I wrote 500 words that day. But nothing yesterday. And probably nothing today.

It’s not just about the time. I could probably carve out the additional hour or so I’d need to meet the daily Nanowrimo word count. But my tiredness has affected my creativity; my mind feels exhausted, and even when I sit down to write, nothing really comes to me.

I probably need to replenish the artistic well or something. When I have time.

But I’m cutting myself some slack here. After all, I just moved. I have unpacked oh, maybe 5% of my stuff. Not to mention the other stuff that’s communal and still waiting to be unpacked. And I am in the middle of my busy season when it comes to work. So I’m okay with this. Maybe next year …

Working: I also made the decision to quit Booktrope, where I’ve been a book manager for about six months now. It was a tough decision to make—I really enjoyed working with both of my authors—but it was a necessary decision. I just don’t have the time (did I mention unpacking, busy with work, trying to write?) and with both my authors having book launches coming up, it was much better to step down and let someone else take over who could commit the time and energy necessary for making those launches a big success.

Creating: Nope. Not a thing.

Looking forward to: Going to bed tonight. Seriously. I’m tired enough I could sleep right now, but I have to take Dylan to dance class. But when I get back? The bed and Career of Evil beckons! And a glass of wine, of course.

Sunday Snapshot: All Moved In (Almost)

It’s been a truly hectic week, but I’m happy to say, I’m almost all moved into the new place! We officially moved on Wednesday, but ran out of elevator time (this is something that can happen when you move from or to a condo). So it’s been a mad dash to get everything out of the old place by today; we’re able to keep using the locker at the old place for a little while longer, thank goodness, and basically all that’s left to be moved is in that locker.

I am nowhere near unpacked, but I LOVE my new room; it feels good to have “my space” like this, and even though we’ve already had an argument, I think there’s a good chance that this new post-separation arrangement will work out. Dylan loves the new place, too, which is nice—he’s definitely all settled in, even though most of his toys are still in boxes. Kids today don’t need too much—a power bar to plug in their laptop and their iPad and they’re quite content.

It’s been hard even thinking about blog posts lately, so I thought I’d start doing more Snapshot posts, but on various days, not just Tuesdays. So here goes!

Time: 1:24 pm (and I was extremely grateful for that extra half hour today; yesterday was a gruelling day)

Feeling: Tired but good

Eating: A ham sub on flat bread. The low-carb diet worked really well for me and I’m at my ideal weight now, so I’m slowly adding more carbs back into my diet.

Drinking: A decaf latte from Second Cup.



I haven’t read anything at all this past week, other than browsing Facebook links during the brief snatches of downtime I took. But before that, I did finish up the first two books in Peter May’s Lewis Trilogy series; these are mysteries set in the Isle of Lewis, in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides. I enjoyed both of them, although I did like the first one, The Blackhouse more than the second one, The Lewis Man. Unfortunately, my library still doesn’t have a copy of the final book in the trilogy, The Chessman.

Listening: I did manage to get some listening time in last week, finishing up two of Robert Parker’s Spenser books written by Ace Atkins, Kickback and Cheap Shot. It’s tough to step into the shoes of a grand master like Parker, but I think Atkins does a fairly good job, and it’s great to be able to keep getting my Spencer fix.

Writing: It’s November 1 today—and I don’t know if I’ll be able to do Nanowrimo! It’s been so busy I haven’t even had time to think about my writing, and the next two weeks are so busy, filled with both work deadlines and, of course, unpacking. If I do participate, I will keep working on Sweetness & Dank, so that will make me a Nanowrimo Rebel, since I won’t be starting a new story. I’ll keep you all updated.

Working: Too much. It’s my busy season, and I have so many deadlines coming up. And a surprising number of rush indexes. So November will be all about juggling everything. I’m so thankful for my coworking space, because when I go there to work, I have this laser focus and I’m incredibly productive.

Creating: Nothing! And I don’t foresee doing any arty things anytime this month. But I’ve been looking at recipes, though, and collecting simple ones that I can make easily. So maybe I’ll be able to write a Weekend Cooking post soon.

Looking forward to: Finally getting all unpacked, whenever that may be.

(Trying To) Conquer the Busy

I’m a bit of a planner nut—but I’m a planner nut who’s currently without a planner right now. And boy, do I ever need one!

I had one that was sort of working for me, a mashup of the Passion Planner (I used the free downloads) and some other bits and pieces of printables I found in various places online.

But then the summer happened. As many of you know, it’s been quite the summer for me. Big changes, endings, and new beginnings.

It’s been a lot to take in. And I’ve been doing it without the aid of a planner.

(Thank you, Google Calendar, for at least keeping me steady on my feet when it comes to deadlines!)

I’m moving at the end of the month, I’m trying to make full use of my coworking space, my son turns 12 this year so the homeschooling has to be turned up a notch, there’s work of course (plus I’ve expanded from indexing into editing), I’m starting to cook again, and then there are also all the things that have to be taken care of when a marriage breaks down, even if you are going to try and live under the same roof so you can co-parent.

It all adds up to a lot of busy. An awful lot of busy.

Despite all the busyness, I’ve come to this realization: I really have to sit down and set aside some time to put together a system that will work for all the things I have on the go right now. Because honestly, I have days where I feel like I’m drowning in “stuff I have to do/what have I forgotten to do/OMG how could I have forgotten THAT?”

It’s been all shapes of crazy, that’s for sure. So much so, last week when I was at the dollar store picking up index cards (hello, NaNoWriMo, here I come!) I also picked up a chunky little to-do list book.

Because it was braindump to-do list time. I tend to do these only when I get overly overwhelmed (which is a bit more intensity than just plain overwhelmed). And it was so nice getting all that stuff out of my head onto paper. I even felt lighter.

Now at least I’m not as worried about forgetting things. But I do need to transfer things over from the braindump to-do list onto regular planning/agenda pages.

Any suggestions out there? What are you using and loving? I need something that will accommodate my daily to-dos as well as keep me on track and motivated to work on all the projects I have. If it gives me space to track how I’m spending my time, even better. And a week at a glance for the Sundays would be awesome.

Endings, and A New Beginning

It’s been an event-filled summer here, one filled with big changes and big feelings, and things have finally settled enough emotionally for me to feel at ease with writing about it.

A couple of months ago, my husband and I decided to split up. It’s a decision that’s been a long time coming, and perhaps because of the length of time it took for us to come to this resolution, there was a feeling of inevitability to it for both of us. And, perhaps because we have each grieved in our own ways through the past four or five years as we continually tried to repair our failing relationship, we find ourselves able to proceed amicably.

We’re also moving into our separate new beginnings in a different way than most divorcing couples. We have always homeschooled our 12-year-old son, Dylan, together, and neither of us want our divorce to affect this. We want to co-parent, and we also want to ease this traumatic time in his life as best as we can.

While we aren’t any good at being a couple, at being life partners, our relationship status doesn’t change the fact that we’ll both continue to be Dylan’s parents. So we’re choosing to explore an alternative post-separation living arrangement, one that’s very uncertain, one we know will be filled with all manner of challenges. Still, it feels like an alternative we need to try, one we want to try.

So, in addition to ending our marriage, we’ve decided to try living separately and apart, but under the same roof. Thanks to the generosity of a dear friend of mine, next month we will be moving into a much larger place, a space that has room enough for each of us to have our own “mini-apartments” at opposite ends.

Our new separate mini-apartments are small, but there is room enough for us to have our own bedrooms, our own living areas, our own bathrooms. We will share a kitchen. Dylan will be able to go back and forth between our separate places as he pleases, and while we will each have individual responsibility for him on alternating days, we will both be able to homeschool him on a daily basis. And we will try doing a family activity, the three of us, on Sundays.

While such an arrangement is unusual, it’s one people have tried and are trying, although not always with success. There’s even a name for it: a modified bird’s nest arrangement. After we began exploring this idea, I found a book (I always do, don’t I?) called Reconciliable Differences: Marriages End, Families Don’t, in which author Cate Cochran writes about ten divorced relationships, including her own, in which the former partners embarked on a similar post-separation living arrangement. It was an eye-opening read for both of us, showing us what’s possible, and spelling out clearly and succinctly the many challenges we will be facing.

We both recognize that this arrangement may not work out in the long-term—there are just too many variables, too many potential obstacles that might arise. But we’re both committed to giving it a try.

So. Endings, but definitely a new beginning, too.

A few weeks ago I came across this post from Brainpickings on David Whyte reading from his poem “The Journey”; Whyte had written the poem for a friend who was in the process of ending a relationship. The final lines of the poem really resonated with me:

You are not leaving.
Even as the light fades quickly now,
you are arriving.

I am arriving. That is the hope and the potential that fills me right now, alongside the grief and sadness I feel at the ending of this long-term relationship.

Snapshot: July 26, 2015

Time: 8:20 pm

Feeling: Productive, even though I really haven’t done much today. But I FINALLY got around to getting some pictures taken so I can have a decent social media picture, instead of either the one that’s years old, or the one where I’m hiding behind my 12-year-old Dylan or the one where I’m on the edge of the picture with all three of my kids.

It turns out I was using a different picture on different social media sites. Once I uploaded to Facebook, it took me another ten minutes to log in and change my pictures on all my other social media accounts and all my email accounts, too. Phew! But I’m glad I finally got it done.

It was quite the family affair. I got Dylan to take several shots of me, and then today when I met my daughter Hayley for an early dinner, I got her to select the shot she liked best.

This was actually the picture I personally liked, but I guess it doesn’t work well as a social media profile pic, does it?

Me trying to grab the phone

Eating: I went with Hayley to Queen Mother Café here on Queen Street West. They had a smaller menu than normal when we went, but Hayley was very pleased with her Ping Gai (boneless chicken marinated with garlic, coriander and black peppercorns, grilled crispy and served with a spicy lime and coriander dipping sauce, salad and  jasmine steamed rice) and I was quite happy with my arugula and smoked cheddar cheese salad (baby arugula, toasted pumpkin seeds, pickled red onion and  grape tomatoes, in a lime spinach and Dijon dressing, topped with grated smoked cheddar cheese). I also added grilled chicken to it so it would be more substantial.

Reading: Maybe it’s a summer thing, but I seem to be drawn to chunksters right now. There’s Atlas Shrugged, which I want to read for the #AtlasRAL. And there’s my book club read, The Name of the Wind (I know! It’s so exciting—I’m in a science fiction and fantasy book club!).

What’s really gotten my attention lately, though, is Brandon Sanderson’s The Way of Kings. What a great book! I’m about a third of the way through, and I’m really liking it.

Listening: I haven’t had a chance to get back to Ernest Cline’s Armada, which makes me quite sad because I’ve really enjoyed the few chapters I’ve listened to. I find I haven’t had as much time for audiobooks because when I’m not doing something I’m trying to keep noodling over bits and pieces of the story I’m working on. I used to do this all the time—I’d go off on a daydream about whatever book I happened to be writing, any time, any place—but it’s something I’ve gotten out of the habit of doing over the past four or five years. Which has been detrimental to my writing but very good for my audiobook stats.

Writing: Yes! I am still writing! Although I’ve now written all the scenes I’ve thought up, so the past few days I’ve been brainstorming instead of actually writing any new scenes. But I’m brainstorming in a “writing journal” file specifically for this book, so I’m counting it even if the word count can’t be added to my actual writing word count. Because really, while actually writing the words of your novel every day is a good goal, there’s some prep work that needs to be done and if I didn’t count it as “writing” I’d feel pretty down on the days when I didn’t “write” even though I was still working on my story. Right?

Working: This is a bit of a heavier week coming up for me. I’ve got three deadlines to finish up, plus it’s my older son’s birthday this Thursday. The tabletop board games I ordered for his birthday did arrive in time, which is good. He wants to have biscuits and sausage gravy for his birthday dinner, so we’re trying to find a restaurant around here that has that on its menu.

Creating: Nothing yet, but I’ve got a nice big stash now of adult colouring books, and I’m just waiting for a bit of time so I can pull out my Prismacolor pencils and start colouring!

Snapshot: July 16, 2015

Time: 9:25 pm

Feeling: A little sad, because tomorrow’s the last day of my Dark Fantasy writing class. And tired, because for some reason I was wired last night and had trouble falling asleep. Before I started feeling tired, I was actually feeling motivated, so I’m hoping if I get a good night’s sleep tonight I’ll go back to being motivated again!

Reading: I haven’t had much time to read this week. I did read a few pages of Meg Cabot’s Royal Wedding, since I need to post a review at the end of the month for the book’s blog tour, but what with being tired it was hard to get into it.



My Armada audiobook preorder came in earlier this week! I haven’t had a chance to transfer it over to my iPod, and I’m not going to do it tonight because I’m just way too tired to listen to it without falling asleep. So it will have to wait until the weekend.

Writing: Nothing, but hey, I’ve been in writing classes all this week! But I’ve started daydreaming scenes, which is good. I’m hoping to start a new writing schedule (that I’ll stick to) this weekend. Taking this writing class makes me feel I will finally start finishing my novels, so I want to tap into this motivation for as long as it lasts (hopefully it will last and last and never go away …).

Working: I’ve got one big index and one small index due next week, so in addition to starting a new writing schedule this weekend, I’ll also be working. Sigh.

Looking forward to: My last day of class tomorrow!

Snapshot: July 8, 2015

Feeling: Really really nervous and stressed about next week’s writing class/workshop with Kelley Armstrong. I didn’t realize just how nervous until the university sent me a link to register with the student portal so I can access the class materials—which, I think, consists of all the students’ writing submissions. Including mine. And I realized, OMG, I’m going to get critiqued. By a bunch of people. None of whom I know. Including Kelley Armstrong.


I’m not very good with this stress thing …

Eating: Guess what? I’m back to low-carb! I know I got that brain fog the last time, but it appears I had misread my research and the brain can indeed use ketones as fuel, rather than glucose. So I’m giving low-carb another try. It helps that Ward, the former book-reading demon, has stayed low-carb during my own low-carb ups and downs.

This time around, I’ve been  looking for some good recipes. And I found some! On the weekend, Ward made me these low-carb cream cheese pancakes. So, okay, my food photography isn’t going to stun anyone, but trust me, they tasted much better than they look in the photo. (I have NO clue why the picture looks so blue!) You can click on the link above to see a much much better picture of the pancakes.

These pancakes had a nice sorta pancakey texture and taste. Next time, I’ll leave the cinnamon out (or rather, get Ward to leave it out), as I normally eat pancakes with butter rather than syrup so I prefer just the pancake-like taste. Can you believe it, though? These have NO flour in them!


Drinking: I haven’t been drinking this, but Ward has. He bought a package of Counting Sheep Coffee a while back and was really wowed by it. He’s been driving all over the place looking for a store that carries it, but has turned up empty-handed. So he emailed the company, and it sounds like they’ve been having trouble getting their product placed in the big stores.


Right now their site shows only the decaf pods with valerian, but he’d bought a package of their ground decaf and he swore by it. He could have his coffee at night (he says it was a nice and strong decaf) and then fall right asleep.

Reading: So I mentioned in my last post that I’ve finally broken out of my reading slump. It only takes that one book (in my case, Brandon Sanderson’s Elantris) and BOOM! you’re back to reading. At least, I am.

When I finished Elantris I went on to Kelley Armstrong’s Visions. I’d read the first book in the Cainsville series, Omens, and thought I should probably get to Visions. Especially since I’m in her Dark Fantasy class next week. She’ll be doing a reading near the end of the week, and I’m hoping it will be from Deceptions, the third book in the series, which won’t be released until mid-August.


I also decided to start Brandon Sanderson’s The Way of Kings. It’s over 1,000 pages long, so it means this month I’ll be reading two 1,000+ page books, since I’ll also be starting Atlas Shrugged for #AtlasRAL. Atlas Shrugged weighs in at 1,200 pages. Luckily I’m reading both of these in ebook format; my wrists are thanking me already!

Listening: I just started John Scalzi’s Redshirts, partly because I want to start reading Scalzi (I have several of his books on hold right now at the library) and partly because it’s narrated by Wil Wheaton and I figured this might be a good listen while I’m waiting for my pre-ordered audio of Ernest Cline’s Armada, which should be arriving soon. Just not soon enough.

Writing: Nothing. I’ve been too nervous and stressed, thinking about next week’s class.

Working: I finished up that big index I talked about last week. I have three small ones for the end of this week, but they’re fun ones so I’m not too worried about them. I had four articles due this week, and got three of them off my desk yesterday, so that leaves just one more. I need to clear the decks so I can attend next week’s class without worrying too much about work, although I do have another large index coming in over the next few days.

Photo of the week:


I’m rather proud of this. It’s grass, in case you were wondering.

One of my cats, Hobbes, has been having trouble with hairballs. He’s Siamese, so the hairballs aren’t originating with him. But our other cat, Creeper, is a Snowshoe (the same breed as Grumpy Cat), so he’s on the fluffy side, and Hobbes is the one who’s always cleaning him. Hence the hairballs.

And the strange thing about Hobbes getting hairballs: he can’t be like a normal cat and just hock up the darn thing and be done with it. No, not Hobbes. Instead, he has to spend a few days throwing up and THEN he has to develop an allergic reaction which means he starts scratching his ears and then if I don’t stop him (which is nearly impossible despite anti-histamines and the liberal use of hydrogen peroxide) he develops an infection and has to go on antibiotics.

So I decided to grow some grass for him. Isn’t it just splendid? He’s already been grazing on it.

So that’s been my week! What has yours been like?

Snapshot: June 30, 2015

Time: Hah! I’m being a really really good blogger and writing this at 11:11 pm the night before.

Feeling: Well, I’ve had a glass of wine, so I’m feeling good. Does that count?

Eating: A blade steak, to go with my wine. I think in the US it’s called a flatiron steak?

Drinking: Wine (a Malbec) *cough*


bishops wife

I wish! I’m still in a reading slump. But I did dive a little into The Bishop’s Wife and it’s quite intriguing. I’m not very familiar with the Mormon religion, and this promises to be both a good read and a good way to learn more about the Mormon religion.

Listening: I’ve been working and listening to the last few chapters of The Strain. Liking my reread (relisten?) so much, I downloaded the next two books in the trilogy from the library.

Writing: Can I just say, I’m REALLY REALLY NERVOUS about the Dark Fantasy writing class I’ll be attending mid-July, the one that’s taught by Kelley Armstrong? First, there’s the “I already know this” knowledge that I’m probably going to be the oldest person attending the class *sigh*. Second, there’s the fact that it’s a workshop and I’m going to be getting a critique of the first 20+ pages of my dark fantasy WIP Sweetness and Dank (and that’s a working title, in case you were thinking That’s a pretty strange title).

Working: I’m working on indexing a huge (massive!) criminal law text book. Think roughly 1400 pages and you’ll be almost right.

Photo of the week:

Photo 2015-06-29, 12 22 42 PM

Hobbes has been under the weather this week (hairballs from grooming Creeper, I think) but Creeper’s been taking care of him. :)

Snapshot: June 25, 2015

Time: 1:05 pm

Feeling: Revved up and motivated—yay!!

Eating & Drinking: I have fallen in love with savoury green smoothies. Last week we bought a NutriBullet blender/liquifier and I’ve been having a blast with it. I searched for savoury green smoothie recipes, then ended up making up one of my own based on seeing what other people are using in theirs.

Basically I throw in a tomato, some cucumber, a handful of cilantro, a cup of plain kefir, a quarter of a small onion, a clove of garlic, a tablespoon of flaxseed, a half a tablespoon of potato starch and salt to taste. Zap it for about a minute, and it’s the most delicious veggie drink ever. And the bonus? It’s pretty filling, so easily substitutes for a light lunch.

Reading: I’m in a reading slump. Yes, I figured I should just bold that for good measure. I think it’s because I’m feeling both productive and busy, and I’m scared if I pick up a good book, I’ll end up sucked in for hours on end.

Whatever the reason, though, I haven’t picked up either a print book or a physical book for a week, other than continuing with my reading of Patricia Highsmith’s Plotting and Writing Suspense Fiction. It’s not really a “how to write” book, but rather more a memoir type book in which Highsmith describes how she came to write several of her works.

But I’m headed to the library later today to pick up some holds, so something enticing might get my out of my slump. I can hope, anyway!

Watching: On the other hand, maybe what I just wrote above about being scared that picking up a good book will blow my productivity right out of the water is just an excuse. Because I started watching season 2 of “Agents of Shield” on Netflix last night …



I’m skipping around between a bunch of things (which is often what happens when I’m in a reading slump): Nine Princes in Amber by Roger Zelazny (I have the omnibus in print version in my TBR stack—all the books in the series will be rereads for me); The Strain by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan, another reread/relisten; and Bryant & May: The Burning Man by Christopher Fowler.

Writing: I’m finally working on those first 20 pages of my dark fantasy, for my summer writing workshop class with Kelley Armstrong. Memory gave a me some great developmental feedback, and my older son also read my first draft and pointed out the things which puzzled him or weren’t clear. I’ve got lots of good points to work on now, and both of them tell me what I’ve got so far is very interesting, so I don’t have to worry about that anymore.

Working: I’m back on a productivity binge. I’ve decided to try doing a daily braindump to-do on Trello and so far (for today, anyway), it’s been working. Doing the braindump turns out to be quite the relief for my poor brain which has been trying to juggle everything.

And having a list of things, big and little, seems to be helping, too. I pick and choose depending on my mood. Like this blog post.

I’ve already moved several things to the “done” list, which feels great.

Kijiji: Ward and I finally got around to listing something on Kijiji—a computer desk we no longer need or use—and I can’t believe how easy the whole sales transaction went. I listed the desk late Monday night, and someone emailed us at 7:00 in the morning the very next day. The desk was gone by early afternoon!

I have a friend who recently downsized from a huge house to a condo; she had a blast selling her too-big furniture on Kijiji. She told me it becomes addictive. I can certainly see how that could happen!

So that’s been my week so far. How’s your week been? Any tips for battling a reading slump?

Gay Mean Girls, a coming of queer dramedy

My daughter Hayley is the DoP (Director of Photography) for Gay Mean Girls. It’s a beautiful short film, well worth watching. And when you’re done, you can go to IMDB and rate it!

I’m really excited about the plans for the film—Hayley and Coco (Heyishi Zhang, the director) will be making this into a Web series! Follow Gay Mean Girls on Tumblr to stay in the know about dates and such!