Category Archives: Random Stuff

Saturday Random: birthdays, Hayley’s mood reel, cats and cones

Is it just me, or are the days just flying by? I can’t believe it’s Saturday already. It’s the book-reading demon‘s birthday today, so we’re celebrating with dinner out. Despite his new reading habits, he’s not getting bookish gifts this year—I’m not very good about remembering things like birthdays or anniversaries (both mine and other people’s), and didn’t realize until Wednesday that his birthday was on the weekend. So it was a mad dash to find some time to do some gift shopping, once with Dylan and then once by myself. No time for a leisurely browse through the bookstore, either physically or online. He’s getting clothes and cooking magazines instead.

********

My daughter Hayley is the producer and director of photography (DOP) of the short film JOY, which will be premiering at the RUFF (Ryerson University Film Festival) on May 1. This year RUFF will be screening at Ryerson Theatre, a larger venue that also screens TIFF films. Very exciting stuff!

This is the mood reel for JOY. (A mood reel is created before the actual film is made, to “suggest the feel and sensibility of a film“. Yes, I had to google this.)

********

It is such a sad sight to behold whenever one of our cats has to wear the so-called “cone of shame”. Both of them get so depressed when they have to wear the cone, and I can’t blame them, as they lose their ability to perceive through their whiskers, which they count on a lot for day-to-day kitty navigation through the world.

Unfortunately though, I’m not the only one coming down with the itchies around here. Hobbes began scratching at both his ears last week (vet says it’s allergies from the seasonal change in weather—apparently he sees a lot of this among pets at this time of the year. Another who knew? thing for me). The resulting sores ended up getting infected, so now he’s on antibiotics and steroids. We had to put the cone on him the first day to stop him from scratching more.

IMG_1476.jpg

This is him looking down sadly at me the whole time I was working on Thursday night. He never sits facing that direction on normal days, but of course he had to remind me how sad he was. When he wasn’t moping around on the back of my office chair, that is.

Luckily he’s healing up quickly. We put the nasty cone back in the cupboard, where hopefully it won’t be needed again.

How’s your Saturday going?

Saturday Random: a bit of gratitude, planner woes and cat pics

Starting today’s Saturday random with a little gratitude. This morning Dylan was sitting next to me in bed, much as we do most mornings, only no schoolwork for him as he gets the weekends off. It was just me and him. I was on my phone and he was playing with a couple of LEGO cars he’d created. He turned to me and said, “I like it when it’s just the two of us in the mornings, and the cats.” I hugged him right there and then.

Mind you, this is the same kid who woke me up at the ungodly (to me) hour of 6:45 a.m.. I’ve been so tired, I actually had to take a short nap before I started writing this post.

********

Some planner woes. After a week of using the Passion Planner to track my time, I’ve come to the conclusion it won’t work for me. The reason? The planner charts the day from 6:00 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. As you’ve probably guessed by now, my typical day is more like 9:00 a.m. to 1:30 a.m.

So now I’m on the hunt for a planner that will accommodate my typical day. I suspect now I probably won’t find it in a ready-made product (with all the stuff I read online about productivity and your morning routine, I think a 6:00 a.m. start is not only more common, but also seen as more productive). I’m hoping there’s some freelance creative person out there who’s made a really awesome planner printable to help her account for her day, a day that looks more like mine than the typical planner does.

********

The requisite cat photos. Mainly because I still haven’t gotten around to designing a Saturday Random graphic yet, and the way the blog works, I need to have a graphic in each post or there will be a yucky big blank square beside the post title in my “latest posts” list on the sidebar.

Creeper says “hi”.

 Creeper says hi, sort of

And so does Hobbes

Hobbes says hi

How is your Saturday shaping up? 

Saturday Random: pens, overdue books and IRL book friends

#ProductivityTip: if you take out of your penholder all the pens you don’t like and will never use, you’ll save some time. I did this earlier this week when I cleaned up my office, and I’m amazed at how much time I save now, not having to scrabble through all those other pens to find one I like.

A really bad picture of my penholder

A really bad picture of my penholder

********

I need to create a Saturday Random graphic, so I don’t inflict really bad pictures of particularly meaningless things on everyone just so the post has an image in it.

********

Has this ever happened to you? I check my library books each week to see which ones have to be returned. This week, The Gift of Darkness was due back, and when I went to renew, I couldn’t. Because there are another 100+ people on hold for it.

TheGiftofDarkness.jpg

I saw that and I was like, OH! Obviously this must be a book everyone’s reading. So of course I buckled down, finished the current book I was reading, so I could get to this one before it was due. (I am incredibly vulnerable to bookish peer pressure.)

I managed to finish it last night. It was an okay book. There were some scenes in which head hopping occurred—POV changed back and forth between characters—which I always hate to see in a book (I always feel editing should catch that kind of thing). And the story was difficult to follow in places. Oh well. The book was due back yesterday but my library doesn’t open on the weekends so at least the fine will be small.

********

Remember earlier this week I was so embarrassed because I’d forgotten an appointment to meet with someone I’d been introduced to through Linkedin? We rescheduled, and I finally got a chance to meet with her yesterday – and now I have an IRL bookish friend with similar reading tastes (fantasy and mystery)! Who lives just down the block from me!

It’s so exciting. I love when things like this happen. And she’s been running a sort of book club with some of her other friends, and I’ve been invited to join in on the next meeting! I believe we’ll be reading The Baker’s Boy—I’ll have to check with her on that, as I didn’t take notes and there was a great deal of wine flowing …

Saturday Random: no more low-carb, 36 questions, and some zen

Another Saturday Random! The week just flies by, doesn’t it?

********

Picture of the week:

 Dylan drawing on the large graffiti chalkboard at the Jean-Michel Basquiat exhibit at the Art Gallery of Ontario. He didn’t want to leave this section!Basquiat AGO

********

Why can’t they create a hair colouring product that will just colour your grey hairs? You know, so you have instant highlights without messing with the colour of the rest of your hair?

********

I’ve been really tired for the past two weeks, and I was blaming it on Daylight Savings Time. But guess what? It wasn’t!

It appears it was my low-carb diet. I’ve been low-carb for a couple of months now. I looked it up, and for some people (not the majority), low-carb can produce heavy-duty fatigue.

That was exactly what I’d been feeling. Fatigue and brain fog. On Wednesday night, I had to sign out of my weekly writers chat on Google Hangouts early, I was so tired. I was in bed by eleven, which is early for me.

So I started adding carbs back into my diet on Thursday. And while the fatigue hasn’t instantaneously disappeared, I’m definitely not feeling that high level of exhaustion. Plus the brain fog has disappeared.

Not to mention, it’s been nice getting reacquainted with rice and potatoes. The only carbs I’m going to continue to eliminate are the sugary ones.

********

Ward and I went out last night for dinner so we could continue with the 36 questions that lead to love, which we decided to do last month to help strengthen our relationship.

We decided on a restaurant called the Spice Route, because Ward had noticed it on his way to the dentist one day and thought it looked interesting. The Yelp reviews were mixed, so we decided we’d just go and be okay with whatever happened.

And, as usually happens when you’ve decided you’re okay with having bleh food or bad service, we had fabulous, attentive service and the entrées we ordered were lovely. The same thing happened when we went out for dinner last month, too (I know, we only do this once a month—but hey, that’s better than not at all, right?).

So I’ve decided I should try to cultivate this attitude of being okay with what is.

As for the questions, we’re into Set III, the questions which feel a little odd because they really are meant to be asked by someone you don’t know that well. But it’s been fun and interesting so far—and it gives us something to talk about that’s not, you know, kids, bills, and work and home stuff.

Random on a Saturday – 14/03/2015

I know I said last week I was going to start a new feature called This Week in Pictures but ha! I’ve changed my mind (I’m prone to that kind of thing). I woke up this morning with vague memories of a random-type post that I used to write here, and even vaguer memories that it was usually on a Saturday (or a Tuesday but I’m doing my Snapshot posts on Tuesdays, so that’s taken).

Being too lazy to look it up, I’ve decided to just go ahead with it.

***

Woke up to a bit of a puzzle this morning. The WordPress app on my phone had sent me a notification that my stats were going through the roof (there was something about things going “boom” but I can’t remember the exact wording). Since there’s nothing at all on this blog that could possibly send my stats going through the roof, I checked the app and discovered that I was somehow getting all this traffic from Google News.

Of course, it’s impossible to figure out exactly why I was on Google News, since the links on there keep changing. But the really puzzling thing is that all the people Google News was sending my way were landing on my home page, rather than to any particular blog post. Google News only links to posts and articles on specific sites, rather than to sites themselves, so how was this happening?

I’ll probably never figure it out. On the bright side, people seemed to have liked what they saw, as most of them clicked through to read 2.48 pages. Yes.

Update: I should probably mention that to WordPress, “stats going through the roof” seems to be all relative.  So if you normally get a couple of hits a day, and it sees ten visitors in two hours, it will interpret this as your stats going through the roof. At least, that’s how it seems to have been working in my case – my “stats explosion” didn’t even get into triple digits!

***

Filing this under “it figures”, I was all set to read Pet Sematary today while waiting for Dylan to finish his dance classes (on Saturday afternoons, I am there for three and a half hours) and my Kobo ran out of juice. I can’t fathom how this happened, because I checked the battery gauge before I packed the darn thing, and it was nearly full. If it hadn’t been, I would have taken the charger with me. So I ended up having to do some work instead.

***

This week’s photos

(Thought I’d sneak this in here, which will then also save me the trouble of scrambling around for a graphic for this post.)

Photo 2015-03-08, 1 25 31 PM

Photo 2015-03-08, 4 23 22 PM

Photo 2015-03-08, 1 25 47 PM

The first two photos were taken last Sunday on our walk back from the ballet. The last picture was taken on our way there. I thought the book-reading demon‘s shadow looked so eerie.

On set today, what I’m reading, and some random stuff

I was in stage mom mode again today. It’s been a while since the last time I had stage mom duties, when Dylan was a child extra in a number of operas during the CoC’s 2013-2014 season. Last year when he was in the National Ballet’s Nutcracker (he played a guard and a chef), there was no need to be a stage mom, as parents were not allowed backstage at all (and they were very strict about this rule), so there was no waiting around, which was nice. We just dropped him off and picked him up (although what the book-reading demon and I actually did for each performance was buy the cheap standing room tickets, and came back to watch Act II, which was the Act Dylan was in).

Today, Dylan was an extra in a film my daughter Hayley is working on. It’s a thesis film for her final year in filmmaking school, and for this one she’s the cinematographer, or director of photography. They were to be on set the entire afternoon, and I had this vague idea that I’d be able to drop Dylan off and pick him up again later in the afternoon. Ha!

They weren’t too sure exactly when they’d be done (although they knew the time when they had to be finished by), so I ended up hanging around, just in case. (And can you believe it, I forgot to take pictures  of the set- I really need to make picture-taking a habit.)

At first I was on my phone – I mean, I can spend hours on my phone, right? Only I’d already spent time on my phone in the morning, and after a while, I realized I should have brought a book to read. Luckily we live close to where they were shooting, so I ended up coming back home and getting my Kobo (for Pet Sematary) and Dead Scared, the second in S.J. Bolton’s Lacey Flint series.

It was a good thing, too – I read a few more chapters of Pet Sematary for the #gangstercats readalong, and a huge chunk of Dead Scared. It was quite nice to get some unexpected reading time into the day. Dylan had a great time (there were seven other kids there) and we got home in time for a bit of a rest before having to trek back out for his dance class.

Dead Scared

While waiting for him during dance class, I managed to finish Dead Scared, so that’s another one for the done pile! (Now that I’m tracking my reading, I find myself geeking out every time I get to add another entry to my spreadsheets.)

Now the random stuff:

  • our dishwasher started leaking yesterday, so we’re handwashing until the plumber comes tomorrow morning to fix things. My hands are not particularly pleased – this weather’s already been pretty rough on them, and the soapy dishwasher isn’t helping!
  • yesterday on their way home from dance class Dylan and the book-reading demon decided to expand the taxi counting game. We’d been counting only the taxis coming and going on the street we were on, but now it’s been extended to any taxi we see while we’re waiting for the bus or riding the bus back home. They came home with a whopping 267, so tonight on our way home, Dylan and I were determined to beat yesterday’s total. And I believe we would have, too, only the bus we got on had extremely dirty windows, and we had a tough time seeing out them. We only counted 231 taxis but I believe in my heart we would have bested 267 if we’d only been able to actually see out the window.
  • I bought a new laptop today. It should arrive in a few days. The current laptop has been acting rather temperamentally for about a year now. Little things like a black screen even though the rest of the laptop is running fine (when that happens, I have to hook it up to a TV or monitor so I can power it down properly, remove the battery, remove the AC/DC power cord, hold down the start button to discharge whatever energy it is that’s jiggling things up, replace the battery and power cord and restart. Really. I found these instructions online last year and was so amazed they actually work). Oh, and documents not saving when I use “save as”, for a variety of programs. Chrome being laggy, oh, so so laggy. Many more grievances I won’t air here. I’m happy about getting a new laptop, BUT I’m not looking forward to that “transition from old laptop to new laptop” thing we all must do. Mainly because there are a number of programs I think I might have forgotten to save the serial codes for on Evernote (hello, Word? And Roboform?).

So moving: Sergei Polunin’s stunning dance to Hozier’s "Take Me to Church"

Hozier’s “Take Me to Church”, with it’s anti-hate theme, has become the anthem to the LGBT community, and this particular interpretation, danced by Ukrainian dancer Sergei Polunin, directed by David LaChapelle and choreographed by Jade Hale-Christofi, is incredibly moving.

Every time I watch this video, my mind fills with adjectives, words that don’t even come close to describing how beautiful and moving this dance is. Moving, passionate, powerful, beautiful, stunning, intense – I can come up with a whole list of words, none of which do the video justice. If you’ve seen it, you’ll know what I mean. If you haven’t watched it yet, please do. It will simply take your breath away.

[TSS] One Of Those Funny Reading Moods

It’s been one of those interesting weeks around here, where I don’t feel like I did very much, but at the same time I seem to have gotten most of the things on my to-do list (the one in my head) checked off.  I do love weeks like that!

Time: 9:51 AM

Place: At my desk, which I still haven’t cleaned up yet. I’d snap a photo for you all, but I’m way too embarrassed. Let’s just say my desk is pine-coloured, but you don’t see a whole lot of pine anywhere.

Drinking: Yes, that pomegranate/kale/flaxseed smoothie. This is what I have for breakfast every day, so it’s probably not going to change for a while.

Eating: Ward didn’t have rehearsal last night so he cooked for us! He made his fabulous Japanese gyozas, and also these delicious shrimp and chive dumplings I found online earlier this week. Whenever he makes Asian dumplings, we always have lots of leftovers, so I’m looking forward to more gyozas and shrimp and chive dumplings for lunch.

Reading: Fiction-wise, I’ve still been going through a lot of starts, trying to sink my teeth into a book but just not too sure what that book will be. I’m about a chapter into Blessed Are Those Who Thirst, by Anne Holt, and I’m still working my way through Leif GW Persson’s Another Time, Another Life: The Story of a Crime. I have Ransom Rigg’s Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children waiting for me on the Overdrive app on my iPad, and Dylan and I are reading The Case of the Peculiar Pink Fan, by Nancy Springer during the day, and Peter Pan at night, as his bedtime story.

I did race through Gretchen Reynold’s The First 20 Minutes: Surprising Science Reveals How We Can Exercise Better, Train Smarter, Live Longer, finishing up the book yesterday, mainly because it’s due back at the library tomorrow, and it’s a book I’ve been really wanting to read. Some really fun, eye-opening stuff in there, and motivating to boot.

Listening: Again, lots of starts – I seem to be in a really funny reading mood this week, dipping in and out of various books trying to find something that suits my mood. I listened to the beginning of 61 Hours, by Lee Child, Bitten, by Kelley Armstrong and Peril at End House, by Agatha Christie before finally settling into David Baldacci’s Split Second. Earlier this week, I did finish another Jack Reacher novel, Gone Tomorrow, which might have been why I just wasn’t in the mood for 61 Hours – just a little Jack Reacher-ed out, I think!

Writing: Haven’t gotten back to my current novel yet, but I’m going to be writing a regular feature at Reel Life With Jane – I’ll be writing about the summer series Rookie Blue which premieres on May 23. Rookie Blue is one of my favourite television shows,  so I’m very excited about this! This past week, I’ve been brainstorming ideas for pre-premiere posts and hope to have my first article up there sometime this coming week.

Creating: Nothing yet, BUT I signed up for Trish’s Pin It and Do It challenge (again – and fingers crossed I’ll do better than the last time, which wouldn’t be hard, as I didn’t do a thing last time …). I signed up for the Timid Pinner level, which puts me on the hook for making only one to three things from my Pinterest boards. Surely I can handle that, right?

Working: I have three deadlines coming up this week, so a lot of this past week has found me working on indexes. Still slogging through that high school biology text, which was delayed somewhat, pushing the deadline from this past Friday to tomorrow morning.

Exercising: After I wrote last week’s Sunday Salon post to procrastinate on going on my first run of the year, I did actually go for my run – yay! And it went much better than I’d anticipated. Usually when I haven’t run for a while, my legs give out – the lungs work fine, but there’ll come a moment when my legs turn into limp spaghetti and all I want to do is flop down on the ground and rest them – but this time around, my legs didn’t tire out. Afterwards, I realized all the walking I’ve been doing must have really helped keep my legs in shape.

This past week, I walked for a total of 250 minutes, which surprised even me. And guess what? The First 20 Minutes suggests doing your workout first thing in the morning, before you eat, so I actually went for a run earlier this morning! And all I can say is, it’s a lot harder running in a fasted state. A lot harder. I’m not sure if I want to do that again – I do like running first thing in the morning, but next time it will probably be with my breakfast smoothie in me first.

carmelites_thumbPhoto credit: Canadian Opera Company

Anticipating: Ward has his full dress rehearsal of Dialogues des Carmélites tonight, and I have a ticket for the performance! So I’ll be watching him on stage – I’m really  looking forward to it! I’m sure it will be worth having to live through my own cooking the past six weeks while he’s been tied up with rehearsals. And opening night is this coming Wednesday!

So that’s been my week. How did your week go?

Monday ramblings: NaNoWriMo Win, Readers’ Workouts and Book Buying Binge

Winner-180x180

NaNoWriMo

It’s a little early yet, I know, but the writing’s been going really well and I actually “won” NaNoWriMo on November 22, the American Thanksgiving, but couldn’t validate my win until yesterday.

I am now firmly ensconced in “Act III” of my children’s novel, and could possibly finish the first draft this week. Or not, as I’m in for a very busy week. I had a number of indexing deadlines scheduled for earlier this month that were delayed and guess what? They’ve been rescheduled for completion this week and next!

Yes. Welcome to my freelancing life …

Readers’ Workout and #30DS

It’s a good thing I’m writing now about the 30 Day Shred Twitter group I’ve been participating in, because one thing I’ve noticed: when I’m busy, exercise is one of the first things that gets prioritized right out the window. Which is very, very sad because it should be in my top three priorities, right after meditation and writing.

Participating in #30DS has been really motivating so far, though, so who knows, right? Just knowing if I do get the Shred done for the day, I can send out a tweet to my #30DS support group really pushes me to simply get it done. That, and telling myself it’s only 20 minutes. (It’s really about 25 minutes if you count the warm up and cool down, which I do, because apparently I’m supposed to be getting 150 (or is that 160?) minutes of exercise a week).

#30DS is part of Joy Weese Moll’s Readers’ Workout challenge. Anyone can join in; the weekly post goes live every Tuesday and you can either blog about your weekly Readers’ Workout goals and successes, or chime in on the comments. If you want to do the 30 Day Shred with us on Twitter, just jump right in. We’re all doing different levels of the Shred so you don’t have to be at any particular level.

Book Buying Binge

I’m sad to say I went on a book buying binge yesterday (well, okay, not really. I’m actually really happy about it and enjoyed myself thoroughly!).

After my big book purge last year, before moving to the city, I swore to myself I wouldn’t go on such binges again.  I think I’ve done quite well, actually, since we moved last November and this is my FIRST book buying binge since we moved. I should be patting myself on the back, right?

Anyway, I blame Memory and Kailana. I saw their tweets about the Black Friday/Cyber Monday sale at Bookcloseouts (can you say 50% off already discounted prices? I can, over and over and over again!) and couldn’t resist taking a look – and then I was trapped! I spent yesterday doing indexing, taking a break to browse Bookcloseouts and add more stuff to my cart, indexing some more, taking another break to add more stuff to my cart, and so on.

I was up until 3 A.M.!! Bookcloseouts has only limited quantities of each book, and several of the books in my cart had only two or three copies left. I wanted to make sure I finished up the purchase before bed, because who knew if there would be any copies left in the morning, right?

As it was, I only managed to hit the following categories: Children’s Fiction, Children’s Non-Fiction, Art, Crafts & Hobbies and Cookbooks.

The sad news is, I only got two books for myself – I’m trying to be thrifty, so each time I saw a book I wanted, I checked the library, which had copies of nearly every book I was interested in. Right now I’m trying to buy copies of books that I’ve already read and really really loved, so I just couldn’t justify adding new-to-me books that are already available from the library (there’s also the NOT-ENOUGH-BOOK-SHELVES motivation).

The good news? I checked off a lot of people on my gift list! So that was very, very good indeed.

I can’t resist temptation, though. The sale at Bookcloseouts doesn’t end until tonight, and I still have all the Fiction categories to browse through. I just might end up with a second order!

A List

I’ve finally been having some sustained success in journaling! And all it took was (1) making my son write in a journal every night as part of his homeschool curriculum (2) which he absolutely refused to do unless I journaled right along beside him (3) so I sat down reluctantly that very first night and that’s when I discovered it’s really easy if I just list in point form things and thoughts from my day.

Ahhhh. What a relief! So I thought I’d try the same thing with a blog post!

1.  I love smaller handbags these days. We walk everywhere now and guess what? That huge handbag filled with half my life for those just-in-case moments is, well, really really heavy. I never realized how heavy it was before because back in the suburbs, whenever I went out armed with everything but the kitchen sink, I was usually in a car, the handbag at my feet. A few months back I swapped it out for a much smaller handbag. I feel kind of naked not carting around all the things I might need in an emergency (flashlight, Chinese fortune cookies from our latest foray at a buffet restaurant, colouring books for the little one, headset in case I get bored at the doctor’s office, doodle pad, lined notebook, index cards, gum, pens in very colour of the rainbow, nail file, mints – you know, that kind of stuff) but I sure do walk a whole lot quicker.

2. Bad copyediting. There’s a lot of talk about bad editing these days, most of which is aimed at self-published books, but I’m sad to say I recently read a book by a much loved author – The Vault, by Ruth Rendell, the latest Wexford instalment – and I don’t think this book, published by a traditional publisher, was copyedited at all. Many of the mistakes were minor, but there were a few that took me right out of the story, mainly because I just had to look back at previous chapters to check previously stated facts. I even thought one of the mistakes was a plot point that I’d caught! A character was described as having parents in their seventies who were clueless about his life, so when we “met” these parents chapters later and they were middle aged and knew everything that was going on, I was sure they were imposters, and a part of a plot. But no, it was just a mistake that hadn’t been caught.

3. Another love: snail mail. I’m just loving my mail these days. Back in February, inspired by Carrie, I sent out a bunch of letters and notecards, and the end result is, I’m still sending and receiving snail mail now! And to top things off, I decided to sign up for Letters in the Mail at The Rumpus and it’s been so much fun getting mail from various authors as well.

4. Reading, reviews and sketchnotes. I’ve been doing a fair bit of reading lately, and I’ve been finding myself doing sketchnote reviews. (If you’re not familiar with sketchnoting, check out Sketchnote Army. To see a previous sketchnote review of mine – well, okay, the only sketchnote review I’ve posted so far – check out my review of Gilda Joyce, Psychic Investigator, by Jennifer Allison) Luckily, we finally bought a new printer, the really fabulous Epson Artisan 837 (and all I can say about this printer is, omg, I can now print from anywhere in the house and even from outside of my house via email), and it has a scanner, too! So if I can get my butt in gear, hopefully I’ll be posting sketchnote reviews of what I’m reading.

5. Navel gazing. Cause I always need to do some. I had a bit of an ergo-mishap about three weeks ago (some gremlin messed with the height of my typing chair and what chaos ensued!). Arm pain has finally subsided and I am starting to feel back in form. Three weeks of drooping around the house listlessly does not make for a very happy Belle, but hopefully I’ll be able to re-activate my recessive “doing” gene now.

I love lists! So, what have you all been up to lately?