Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Decor "whoa"s

My husband has informed me that a store in our local mall is closing. While this, in itself, is not really news - many of the stores are closing; the place looks like a ghost town during weekdays - it happens to be one of the stores I like the most.

Bouclair is a store which, up until recently, sold lots of fabric - I mean hundreds of different ones - along with sewing notions, pre-fab curtains, and various decor items: pillows, throws, mirrors, etc. I was looking on their website and smack on the homepage this week was the following ad:

Branches Starting at 6.99

Now, I don't know about you, my humble readers, but having a bunch of dead, or worse, plastic, branches artfully arranged in a vase just doesn't do it for me. Nor for the cat, who would no doubt knock it over in that "everything has to be on the ground" way that cats have. Nor really for anyone who doesn't live in a pristine, Zen-like atmosphere or has a maid.

I remember vividly, while watching Juno recently, just a few seconds of a manicured feminine hand rearranging things : aligning picture frames so they were slanted just so, polishing an upstairs banister, and adjusting what I assume were scent sticks so they fell in a perfectly equal spray.

Who has time for this for everyday??? I mean, maybe it's easy when you both work away from home and have no pets or children. Shoot, even then my house was a sty. But maybe that's just me.

I mean, to me, decor is wall hangings, paint colors, and the color/material/texture of furniture and accessories like pillows and throws. Not big vases filled with sticks or, heaven help me, giant bowls filled with plastic balls. Useless tchochkes are a huge pet peeve with me. Yes, you can have mementoes of people and places. But jeebus, keep it simple and uncluttered. Keep it contained. Have a cabinet specifically for those things if you must. But don't have things scattered all over hell's creation until you're knee-deep in crap and can't reach what you need.

Arg. I can't wait until I start my new job. Much clutter to clear. Much spring cleaning to do. Even though it's not spring yet. No like time like the present, aye?

Thursday, January 24, 2008

F-word and other obscenities

My hubby bought me the soundtrack to Tenacious D and the Pick of Destiny for Christmas, along with an MP3 player. I ripped it onto my player, and have been listening to it almost non-stop. They seem more amazing the more I listen. Genius! Their gratuitous use of the f-word is not vulgar, it's oddly apropos. I mean, they're f*cking rockers, man!

At least, I don't think it's vulgar. Well, I mean, I know it is, but put into the proper context, it's not. It's just a very useful word in this movie.

"A long-ass f*cking time ago, in a town called Kickapoo..."

"The government totally sucks, you motherf*cker..."

"I totally miss the honesty and special times / and honestly /
I totally miss the f*cked up thing you do /
Dude I totally miss you / I really f*ckin' miss you /
Dude I totally miss you all the time"

I've been trying to avoid using vulgar language as much (hopefully, by the time I have a kid, the vulgarity will have been phased out about 90%) but have been failing miserably. It's all I can do to not take religious names in vain when talking to my mother on the phone, or using the word "shit" when my mother-in-law is in the room. When did I become so potty-mouthed? Eh, probably university. Even in high school, I rarely used the f-word, and "shit" was used sparingly. "Bitch" was probably the worst word in my pithy arsenal. Hey, I was the girl whose best friends deserted her in 6th grade because I didn't know what a condom was. *shrugs*

Now I try to be all copy-cat creative with stuff I've ripped off from books or movies. "Jesus Christ on a piece of toast!" had its heyday in my everyday rants while I was at SDM, though occasionally politely substituted with "Cheese with rice!" *nods out to JPF, of the rib0flavin persuasion, if he's reading this* Of course, after watching Team America, the use of "Jesus titty-f*cking Christ" skyrocketed.

Lately, "H Murphy!", or simply, "H!" has been my expostulation of choice. It doesn't mention any religious figures - only a poor guy named Murphy - and so shouldn't offend anyone's sensibilities. (In case anyone cares, that one super-morphed out of Diana Gabaldon's "Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ!" Since I was not alive when Roosevelt was, and then wanted to use my dad's popular, "Jesus Murphy" without the "Jesus" part... QED.)

In French of course, it's all about religion. Bodily functions rarely figure into French cursing, in my limited experience. It's all about Dieu, tabernacle, hostie, and calisse, with the occasional merde thrown into the Jésus, Marie, and Joseph mixture. I'm really not as conversant in French cursing as, say, the average Quebecker. I remember this guy I went to high school with, Sébastien Larocque, and boy, could he curse. Pretty, in a kind of a bad-boy way, but a real prick. But I do remember being amazed at his ability to create blue streaks, en français. Hence the color of this post. But do I remember any of his unusual church-and-fornication collaborations? Alas, no.

Not that I'd use it, of course.

Pet peeves

... when people spell it "perscription" instead of "prescription"
... when people say "the" to rhyme with "duh" when it's not appropriate, e.g. the end, the apple, the elephant. People, when the noun following begins with a vowel, "the" is almost always pronounced "THEE".
... when roof is pronounced like Tim Allen says it. It should rhyme with "goof", not have a soft double 'o' like "book".
... when people don't listen when you ask them a question, and answer with something really random. Honestly, if you weren't paying attention, or you didn't understand, it's okay to ask for clarification. I won't get mad.

Nuff for now. I'm sure I'll have more. Just needed to vent.

Thursday, January 17, 2008


I will be going shopping after work today. I was inspired by a dream I had last night/this morning.

Short version of the dream: I was in an apartment that, in the odd way dreams allow, belonged to my friend Steph and my two great-aunts simultaneously. One of my great-aunts asked my youngest brother if he wanted to go through the stuff in the attic. Me, on the lookout for new clothes, latched on to this idea. I found myself attracted to several green shirts. One was a thin silk blouse with long sleeves, in a beautiful emerald green. The other was some sort of polyester/rayon shirt in a similar green, but which went with an overshirt that gave it a gold and purple shimmer. To be honest, the "overshirt" looked like a bib. Again, in that funny way that dreams are, it changed from an overshirt, to a bib, to a decoration that slipped over the sleeve, if you only wanted a hint of color.

Anyway, this dream really made me want new clothes. That, and seeing three shirts hung up and two dozen empty hangers. (I have since done laundry, and have more shirts, however.) But I still want new shirts. I haven't bought any new shirts in almost a year, so I think I'm entitled to a little spree before I am making less money. So... green shirt it is. And hopefully an orange shirt. And maybe a yellow shirt. I've had enough of blue for now; half of my wardrobe is blue, red, or black. No more bruise colors! I want spring colors!!

Hmmm... Old Navy, Smart Set... I can usually get tons of shirts for cheap there. Man, I miss H&M.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

New job. And great movie.

I did it. I'm back at a library. Well, I will be in two weeks.

I have resigned from the Service Canada Centre, and will be working as a page (read: shelver) at a local branch of the Ottawa Public Library. For considerably more money than I made at the same job in Halifax, but I digress. It will be part-time work; fewer hours than I'd like, to be honest, but there's always a possibility of extra shifts. Lower pay rate. A and I crunched the numbers last night, and if we stop ordering in or eating out four times a week we should be okay.

Working part-time will certainly help me out with going back to school, which I hope to do in the fall. I want to upgrade my three-year bachelor's degree to a four-year degree, preferably by upgrading my English minor to a second major.

The trap will be all the free time I will have. Last time I was unemployed (or partially employed), this translated to a lot of TV-watching and video game-playing. Now that we have a house, and not an apartment, this will give me lots of opportunities, which I dearly hope I'm smart enough to take, to clean, to decorate, and to learn to cook more than my current eight-dish repertoire allows.

Andrew and I celebrated last night by watching Juno and eating unhealthy cinema food. They're not kidding when they say they make their money of concessions. We went on cheap ticket night, so, 2 tickets = $8.40, concessions for two = $25. (!!!)

Juno is such a great movie. Ellen Page is a fantastic actress. One of my favorite scenes is when she's imitating "this girl who took too many behavioural meds and tore off all her clothes and dove into the fountain at the mall and was like, 'ARG, I'M A KRAKEN FROM THE SEA!'". Her expression is priceless. Highly recommended movie. Such funny dialogue in an otherwise poignant movie. Examples:

Juno: There are ads in the Pennysaver for parents?
Leah: Yeah! 'Desperately Seeking Spawn'! They're like, next to the ads for parakeets and lizards and shit.

Receptionist: Free condom? It's boysenberry.
Juno: Uh, thanks, I'm off sex right now.
Receptionist: My boyfriend wears one every time we have intercourse. It makes his junk smell like pie.

Juno: I went, but the receptionist kept talking about her boyfriend's pie junk...
Leah: Yummy!
Juno: And the place smelled like a dentist's office, and there were these weird water stains on all the magazines, and, and Su-Chin was there, you know, from school? And she was like, "Your baby has fingernails!" Fingernails!
Leah: Ooh, so you think the baby would, like, claw your vag on the way out?

In theaters now. Watch it!!!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Men can't be pregnant, last time I checked.

So I'm reading the Globe and Mail online just now. Get to the 'Life' section, and see the headline, "We're having a hard time getting pregnant". Presumably written by a guy.

I am so sick of men claiming that "we" are pregnant. No, "we" are not pregnant. She is pregnant. "We" do not have a swollen uterus. She has a swollen uterus. "We" do not get morning sickness (unless you're one of those men who gets sympathetically ill). She gets morning sickness. Yes, you are partly responsible for the creation of this beautiful miracle, but for the love of god, you are not pregnant too.

I understand you men want to be included; that it must be difficult to watch your significant other get attention lavished on her (whether the positive, gift-giving type, or the negative random strangers grabbing her belly type) and little on you; that your physical contribution to the process is ignored while people are in awe of your woman's changing form. But surely, there are better ways to announce your great fortune, like in the following examples:
  • We're expecting a baby!
  • I'm going to be a dad! (or a mom! for gay couples)
  • My wife/girlfriend/fiancée/life partner is pregnant!
  • This is our new nursery! Ta-da!
Never having been pregnant before, maybe I'm being a tad insensitive. But I know when I call my parents at the end of my first trimester, I will not say, "A and I are pregnant!" In fact, I will probably say something like, "Hello, Memère!"

(And for those reading this, this is not a hugely veiled post about me being pregnant. I'm not. I just watched
Juno yesterday and have pregnancy on the brain. Fantastic movie, BTW. Everyone should watch it. Amazing. And funny!!! *wipes tears of laughter from her eyes*)

Thursday, January 10, 2008


There is something so satisfying about discussing books with someone, especially books you love. The expression "shared joy is increased" is totally true when it comes to sifting through the details of a story that someone else loves the book just as much as you do.

Even better, is when you have a book that you love and reread so often that the colors of the cover are duller than when you bought it new (because who uses dust jackets anyway; they just get torn!), the pages are softer, and you remember that time you were eating spaghetti while reading that left a tiny spot of sauce on the lower right corner of page 49. (Mmm, that was good spaghetti...)

I was on the bus this morning on my way to work, and saw the woman across from me reading The Giver by Lois Lowry. It's one of my favorite books, but one of the saddest I've ever read. She wasn't very far along in the book, maybe the first twenty pages, but I glanced at her between penning answers to the morning's Sudoku to see if her face revealed any hint of awe or puzzlement. I saw nothing but a slight frown as she digested what was happening to Jonas. I hope she enjoys the book.

I feel the same way when I read passages aloud to my husband from various Harry Potter books (he maintains that, between seeing the movies and hearing me recite pages upon pages, he doesn't need to actually read them now) or books written by one of my favorite authors, Diana Gabaldon. I just love watching the look on people's faces, or hearing their gasps, laughter or exclamations when they read a certain passage or hear it for the first time.

I speed read. I always have. My nickname in second grade was Speedy Reader (or Shorty, depending on who you talked to). It maybe stems from my unfailing need to know how something ends - I need to know right now! So I tear through a book, grabbing the essentials and missing out on some of the details. But I need the details. So I read it again.

And again.

And again.

Until I'm talking to someone about the book and say, "Oh, remember when this character said..." then I repeat the text word for word, and they look at me blankly and ask, "How many times have you read this?" "Um, thirty-five times, why?"

I get a lot of head shakes after this.

The thing is that I pick a book apart like it's a tangled ball of a hundred pieces of string; I ruthlessly pull and yank at story elements, stopping occasionally to unravel a knot of information, until I have a nice collection of straight, unknotted pieces of story, which I bundle carefully back up to make a nice tidy yarn again. It is so tremendously satisfying.

Anyone who knows me even a little bit know I'm a huge fan of the Harry Potter series. But it's because of the details. Seemingly innocuous tidbits play a huge part in later books. When talking about this to people, I frequently mention the example of the Vanishing Cabinet.

In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, the second book in the series, the caretaker's cat is Petrified. This makes the caretaker, Filch, dole out extra punishements in his misery. On his way back to the dorm after a rainy and muddy Quidditch practice, Harry is talking to a ghost, then gets caught by Filch for dirtying the floors. Just before assigning punishment, they are interrupted by a loud crash above them. The ghost convinced the school's poltergeist to topple over the Vanishing Cabinet on the second floor to distract the caretaker. The Cabinet is broken.

In the fifth book, the school is in the clutches of a maniacal Headmistress who creates the Inquisitorial Squad, students who have the same authority to punish students that teachers have. Friends of Harry's stop a member of the Inquisitorial Squad from taking points away by shoving him into the broken Vanishing Cabinet. The member of the Inquisitorial Squad reappears, disoriented and confused, after several weeks.

In the sixth book, Harry's school nemesis, Draco Malfoy, finds out that the Cabinet is actually one of a pair which, when fixed, would actually create a passageway between them. Harry, in the meantime, only comes across the Cabinet again in passing, finding it in a hidden room with other broken magical objects, where he needs to hide a book. Draco later fixes the Cabinet, and uses it to allow Death Eaters to take over the school.

See? Who would have thought (besides the author, natch) that a simple cabinet, mentioned casually as a tool to avoid detention, would turn out to be integral to the takeover of Hogwarts? Rowling does this over and over throughout the series. And I simply looooove reading them again and again to pick up on the little details that turn a simple story into a wonderful saga. And even better, is unraveling these threads with someone else.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Reno woes, or "Cry Me a Ceramic Dust River"

My hubby and I are renovating our master bathroom. We started just before Christmas (what were we thinking!) and are technically half-way done. Thus far we have...

- removed the old vanity
- removed the shower unit
- ripped up the old, peeling, cracking, vinyl floor and the crappy 1/4" plywood beneath it
- reoriented the sink drain and faucet supplies
- installed stop valves on the sink faucets (there were none; older house)
- ripped out tiles which were above and around the shower
- drywalled where we had to access the sink drain
- installed the new vanity
- installed cementboard, new tiles, and grouted
- installed a new faucet

What we have left to do...

- build a shower curb out of 2x4s
- custom build the shower floor (so many steps to this!!!!)
- tile said floor and curb, and tile shower walls
- install baseboard (should have done this before we installed the vanity, whoops)
- fix the drywalled hole *wince*
- wash aaaaaaalllllll the grout off the tiles, as it is very gritty
- prime and paint

We can at least use the toilet and sink again, but the shower has a ways yet to go.

Doing It Yourself certainly has its pitfalls, and a potentially steep learning curve. Lesson number one for bathroom projects: don't grind ceramic tiles in your bedroom, even if they are tiles for the on-suite bathroom. Just... *shakes her head* just do it in the basement or the garage or something. *brushes ceramic dust off her clothes for the millionth time in the last month* The shit just never goes away. Note to self: buy some TSP to wash down the walls, and the shelves, and the hangers, and the furnishings...

It was such a relief when, ceramic dust notwithstanding, our bedroom stopped looking like a construction zone: toilet on a plastic bag in a corner, tools next to it looking lonely, pieces of chipboard and cementboard lying against the wall, furniture crammed next to the bed to make way for the movable workbench, a clamp underfoot in a bed of crumbled cement, bits of tile and wood shavings. Oh, did I mention we slept in the guestroom while this was going on? ;-)