Friday, March 29, 2013

Blackmail Revisited

Once upon a time, back at The Mrs I had a serial post titled Blackmail.

What is blackmail?

Well, blackmail is when you accrue funny/weird/hilarious things your kidlets say and do, write it down and post it on the Internet, and put it in their keepsake box so you can mortify them as young adults (natch).

Suffice it to say the blackmail file for my kidlets has been growing... it’s about 20 pages now, and sadly I don’t add to it as often as I used to—it’s like they’re starting to speak sensibly or something... pfft...

Also? I’ve got about a year (seriously!) of silliness to catch up on sharing. So it’s R & L, our two boys—I’ll post their first initial, the date, and their approximate ages at the time of the conversation so you have a concept of the child-mind at work.

A lot of it I have no explanation for—your guess is as good as mine for interpretation, really. I just scribe...


March 2012

R [six years old]: I want to try this yogurt. [reads] Strawberry vanilla. Vanilla tango selection.
Me [honestly surprised]: You can read that?!
R: Uh, yeah.
Me: So what... we send you to school and you come home and you just know how to read?
R: Uh... I guess so. Isn't that what's supposed to happen? Can I eat my yogurt now, Mom? Or do you need me to read you more flavours...?
Me: Eat your yogurt, saucy boy.


April 2012

L [5 years, playing Lego]: Curse you, pancakes! I'll get you next time! Your powerful sword is no match for dragon love!


May 2012

[Boys and Mr Lannis are colouring pictures at the kitchen table...]
R [6.5 years]: Daddy, what're you drawing?
Mr Lannis: It's a passenger ship, and it's on the ocean--
R: AND IT'S CRASHED AND THE PEOPLE ARE DYING?!
L [5 years]: NO! They're DROWNEDING, people DROWNED in water...
Mr Lannis: Uh... well... this ship is fine, though--
R: NO! The PIRATES ARE COMING! And the people will be all KILLED!
L [sings]: The pirates are going to kill them!
Mr Lannis: Uh... that's not really what I had in mind...
Me: ::giggle snort::


R [6.5 years]: Mom, I need to tell you something serious. Ice cream is made out of tickle bums.
Me: That’s silly!
R: I need to tell you something else. Knock knock.
Me: Who’s there?
R: Peanut butter shelly-squash! Hail, hail!


R: OH, MOMMY YOUR FEET ARE HUGE!
Me: Wha...? Why do you say that? [Uncross ankles.]
R: Oh! I saw both and thought they were ONE! Your feet are still big, but you're not like a foot monster or anything.
Me: How reassuring...


June 2012

L [5 years, talking to our also 5 year-old neighbour]: I like your hair colour.
Neighbour: Yellow?
L: Yes. it’s blond-y. Yellow is a very flexible colour.
Neighbour: I know.


L [5 years]: Mommy, I wish you a merry Christmas.
Me: Uh, it's June.
L: I know. But you should still have a merry Christmas...


L [5 years]: The North Pole is at the top of the world.
R [6.5 years]: No, it isn't. The Earth is round, there's no top or bottom.
L: Then where's the North Pole?
R: It's in the middle of nowhere! That's why you never see Santa, because his workshop is in the middle of nowhere--and you can travel and travel and travel and never make it there. Because it's NOwhere.
L: Hm. Yeah, that makes sense.
[Just when you think they're learning, they add kid-logic... ::snort::]


[During daycare hours.]
R [6.5 years]: Can I have some tape, please?
[I give him tape, he goes downstairs, then returns.]
Me: R, why are the kids so quiet in the basement?
R: Because they're hiding.
Me: Who are they hiding from?
R: Me.
Me: Oh. Are you going to go down and find them?
R: Nope. I just made a sign with my name on it and an arrow, so they know I'm upstairs. I taped it to the wall. I suppose they'll find it eventually...
[I suppose so... ::snort::]


July 2012

[At the Toronto Zoo, after I’ve scrawled my cell number on the boys’ arms in pen, R, 6.5 years, asked why I’d done that. I replied that it was so they didn't have to worry if they got lost, and so that if some animal eats his head the zookeepers will know who to call about the rest of his body. A couple parents overheard this, so I got the requisite judgey death stares.]

R [laughs, much progression on that boy's gallows humour]: Pfft! All the animals are in cages, Mom!

L [5 years, shouts]: THAT. WOULD. BE. AWESOME! [He then goes on to pretend to have a conversation with himself] "how did you die?"... "oh, I got eaten by an elephant"... "you win."


October 2012

L [5.5 years]: Mom, Sadie is going to be a bride for Hallowe'en. She's a girl.
Me: Are you going to marry her?
L: NO! I'm not even dating her!
Me: Oh. Who are you dating?
L [sly look]: I'm dating Lily! But she's not dating me.
Me: Oh. Well. Here's your first relationship advice, kiddo: It takes two to tango, but if one person kills it, it's dead.
L: What does that even MEAN?
Me: That means you're only dating Lily if Lily agrees that you're dating Lily.
L [thinks]: Hm. Nope. I'm still dating Lily...
[Lovely...]

Thursday, March 28, 2013

SHADES OF MILK AND HONEY by Mary Robinette Kowal - Book Review

[Note: This review was originally published on PostWhatever.com on March 14, 2012. I had the opportunity to meet Mary Robinette Kowal when she was the Author Guest of Honour at JordanCon 2012, and she is delightful!]

Rating: 4.5/5 - Writing down the title so I can recommend it to everyone.

Title: Shades of Milk and Honey

Author:
Mary Robinette Kowal

Format: trade paperback

Published:
2010

Genre:
fantasy, alternate history, romance

Publisher:
Tor Books

Landed in my hands:
purchased myself


Summary
(from cover blurb):


Shades of Milk and Honey is an intimate portrait of Jane Ellsworth, a woman ahead of her time in a world where the manipulation of glamour is considered an essential skill for a lady of quality. But despite the prevalence of magic in everyday life, other aspects of Dorchester’s society are not that different: The lives of Jane and her sister Melody still revolve around vying for the attentions of eligible men.

Jane resists this fate, and rightly so: While her skill with glamour is remarkable, it is her sister who is fair of face and therefore wins the lion’s share of the attention. At the ripe old age of twenty-eight, Jane has resigned herself to being invisible forever. But when her family’s honor is threatened, she finds that she must push her skills to the limit in order to set things right—and, in the process, she accidentally wanders into a love story of her own.

This debut novel from an award-winning talent scratches a literary itch you never knew you had. Like wandering onto a secret picnic attended by Pride and Prejudice and Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, Shades of Milk and Honey is precisely the sort of tale we would expect of Jane Austen... if she lived in a world where magic worked.


Review:

Oh, dear Lord, I know people who need this book.

I mean, I know people who would scrabble over children like crazed shoppers on Black Friday to read this book...

Okay, perhaps that’s not the best way to begin a review, is it? Well, let’s put it this way: I know some lovely readers who love historical romance (particularly Jane Austen and the Brontë sisters), and these readers also occasionally enjoy reading a touch of fantasy, be it urban or epic in scope.

If this describes you, go find a copy of Shades of Milk and Honey — now!

Because you know when you’re reading a book and taking notes for your review, and then you get so involved in the book you forget to take notes...? No? Just me? Okay then...

(Seriously, about halfway through the book? No more notes. Oopsie?)

That said, what struck me as so-simple-yet-effective was Robinette Kowal’s ability to immerse the reader in the Regency era. The characters’ mannerisms, the diction (even bygone spelling), and the overall published package (the gorgeous cover art, the margins and font on the first page of every chapter) are reflective of the Regency era and its literary legacy.

It really feels like you’re reading a classic.

And as for glamour itself, not only has Robinette Kowal given it a matter-of-fact presence — explaining just enough the science behind the mystery — but she has set limits for the ability to manipulate it. There are physical tolls paid with long use, and thankfully it’s another reason for ladies to fall (heh) victim to the legendary Regency swoon.

Proving her skill, Robinette Kowal has tied the necessity of the magic to the direction of the narrative. It’s not simply a charming love story in an alternative history setting that happens to have magic. No. No, the magic is integral to the plot.

That’s alternative history done well, folks.

And so I say, “well done, madam. Well done, indeed.”

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Lessons in Patience

Remember this? Yeah. It's still costuming season here at Chez Lannis.

The JordanCon costume is still going, and thankfully, my hands are mostly healed.

So here's a sneak peek:

Yes, it needs ironing. I'm acutely aware of this.
These violets? They take an average of 12-15 minutes each to bead... by the time I'm finished this year's costume, it'll be 183 flowers, over 5500 beads, and over 45 hours just hand-beading.

Yeah. It's a toss up between "lessons in patience" and "definition of insanity."

Regardless of which term wins, I'm pretty sure I'm the loser. Or at least the crazy person.

Especially since I have 36 violets left to go, and the handy dandy JordanCon widget keeps reminding me I have 23 days in which to finish these bad boys...

(Violets as bad boys. Heh.)

Where do I find the time? Well, that's part of being a spoiled princess—this would be that one thing I do just for me.

And well, I'm sure it comes as no surprise that Canada has a looong winter...

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

What makes me happy...

This.


That's a photo of a seven year old scrubbing a toilet.

Correction: a seven year old who volunteered to scrub the powder room's toilet because it's Monday (or was then), and Mom could use a happy thought.

Yep.

And he was pleased to earn a marble for his marble jar, too.

(One day he'll learn to pour cocktails for Mommy on Mondays—but that can wait for now...)

Monday, March 25, 2013

Coconutty

I have a coconut from a fruit basket I received back before Christmas.

Let me repeat that: before Christmas. (It's March.)

Yes.

It's sitting in my over-sized martini glass fruit bowl the counter, as happy as a coconut can be (I guess), and it's a source of consternation here Chez Lannis.

I know what you're thinking, and yes, this martini glass has other purposes. Don't judge.

Because (A) who puts a whole coconut in a fruit basket?!

I mean, isn't the point of a fruit basket supposed to be easily accessible fruit? "Grab an apple/banana/[insert wash and eat fruit] and go"? Not "grab your trusty hammer and tuck in"?

And (B) do coconuts go bad? Is it past its expiry date?

It's been on my counter since before Christmas, and it's currently the end of March. Conceivably, said coconut is not Canadian, which means there's travel time to factor in, too, so... how can you tell when your coconut is past its prime? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

And (C) is said coconut some sort of cosmic euphemism? Like the time I had a crack in my teapot?

Because that shit is messed up... I mean, does the coconut represent something I'm missing? Is the martini glass connected in some almost-a-cocktail-but-it's-actually-a-really-truly-coconut-and-not-icy-frothy-alcoholic-goodness message?

Because I'm lost. And I think I'm procrastinating, over-thinking this coconut thing instead of just grabbing that hammer and smashing it to itty bitty coconutty shards...

Uh...

Nevermind. I think I just got the euphemism.

Thanks, universe.

::headdesk::

Friday, March 22, 2013

Dear Hamster

You were a loving pet, a good friend, an asset to the household...

Okay, you were less of an asset and more of an asshat, who made a (quite literal) stink in the corner of the living room, plain and simple.

Though I’m still sorry your time had to come. We had some good times, I suppose. Um... well... at least I think we did...

You used to pee in your cage’s tubes so it leaked all over the carpet, until I put rags underneath. Then you decided it was better to stuff the tubes full of wood chips, which meant they exploded all over the rug when I had to remove them to clean your cage. Appreciated. (Not.)

You would chew on parts of your advertised-as-indestructable cage, creating a grating noise that carried throughout the house... that was... annoying as shit. Thanks for that, too.

Back when you used to run on your wheel you’d do so with great enthusiasm, and if you garnered the attention of Shakespeare, our former cat, you’d wait until he was suitably transfixed before leaping off the wheel in his direction, successfully scaring the bejesus out of a 16lb tomcat. Rather remarkable, really.

(Actually, you’re probably the reason we stopped seeing Shakespeare’s kills arrive at the door—so perhaps I should thank you for said psychological damage.)

And you really liked to tease Moggie. Like, a lot.

One hamster about to yank the fuzz between a cat's toes in 3... 2... 1...







When in your orange ball you used to chase the cats—hey, that was fun to watch!—until we got Moghedien/Asmodean/what'sherface and you decided instead to baffle that kitten by sitting in the middle of the living room, mocking her by cleaning yourself instead of stretching your legs.


video


(Arguably you’re likely the reason Moggie hunts so much now, so I can probably thank you also for my new task of disposing of her one-mouse-a-day habit. By the way, I count this as canceling out Shakespeare’s reformation.)

“Disturbing” does not quite convey the depth of creepiness that swept me, when I’d every so often catch you staring at me with those beady black eyes in utter silence. (Dude: blink much?)

And then there’s the time we freaked out because you’d escaped Mr Lannis had left your cubby door open. We worried that you’d been attacked by the cats, only to discover you’d chewed a hole the size of my palm in the carpet underneath the bookshelf. And you had somehow managed to steal a pile of cat kibble three times your size right beneath the noses of two mousers.

(To be honest, that was quite impressive. Except for the carpet-hole part. For that you’ll always be a douchebag, and remembered fondly every time we move that bookshelf until the carpet is eventually replaced.)

HEY! You totally nipped less than expected, based on the pet store associate’s warning. That’s SOMETHING, right?

And you kept your piss to one corner, making it easier to scoop and replace the shavings daily. I guess that’s something—you’re trainable. Or were, at least...

Hm.

 No offense, but I’m kind of glad you’re gone.

You had a good life, for a rodent, I suppose. Fed and watered regularly, plenty of chews, cage kept clean. You mostly kept to yourself and the kidlets were always supervised when handling you. Arguably you should have been put in your orange ball for more exercise, but overall I'm sure you had no complaints.

And I’m fairly certain any regret over your departure on my part is based dually on a pathological resistance to change, and the sorrow of knowing it involved the discomfort of a cancerous tumor on your part. Animal suffering—especially an animal I’m responsible for—tugs at my heart, what can I say?

(Also? Your tumor was beginning to eat your face. Not pretty. It was time.)

Well, there’s one thing I am confident that will stay with me, Hamster—and not only your horribly uncreative name (thanks to the then-five-year-old)...

That one thing, though? The one thing I will always remember, that thing that is now my duty as a parent to spread far and wide, to share the wisdom imparted to me through your life with us?

Yeah. It's the knowledge that hamsters are the worst. pet. ever.

Okay, so maybe this turned into less of an eulogy and more of a roast... um... and now I'm picturing roasting hamsters. This is just weird.

Goodbye, jerkface. You will be missed (but only a smidgen).


Thursday, March 21, 2013

Taxes Schmaxes

I have learned there are many things in this world that give me a headache...

One is waste.

Another is other people's waste that ends up costing me.

So when I see the display of TurboTax kits at the grocery store, or Walmart, or Costco, I want to bash my head against the shopping cart. I don't... but I do grumble, heartily disgruntled.

You see, you can get the exact same tax software without the waste of physical product (taking up physical space) online.

Yep.

And it's freaking easy peasy lemon squeezy, too.


Stupidly easy, and you don't have to pay until after you're done your taxes and are ready to file (which you can do online... again: easy peasy lemon squeezey.)

But is this advertised at the stores? No. Of course not—they're gaining a cut if they sell the physical product—why would they tell people to go Google TurboTax and follow the linky dink trails...?

(I suppose you could argue the physical product would be for people who have no internet access at home. Do these people even exist?!*)

So why does this make me crazy? Because I use the online software (have for the last couple of years, thanks to Sandi over at Spring Personal Finance—she's a genius, by the way. Also? Hilarious. And she makes cute babies, too).

So when I see the in-store-displays all I can think of is how the manufacturing, shipping, and displaying of said physical product IS JACKING UP MY GODDAMN ONLINE TAX PREP FEES!

Not to mention the landfill waste of software good for tax purposes for that year only...

::headdesk::

Seriously.

Also? My taxes are done... and aside from wincing every time I see someone toss one of those blue and silver boxes into their cart, I'm also done thinking about them.

Until that refund arrives, that is... then I dance.

(Possibly naked. If you're my neighbour, this is your official warning. If you end up blind, that's your problem. Good luck.)






*Clearly I know they do. I have elderly relatives. And infant relatives. And pets.

(Shut up. Pets are totally people—just ones without opposable thumbs... Oh my god, just think of how much of an asshole Hamster would have been with opposable thumbs. A goddamn unstoppable fuzzy jerk. ::shudder::)

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

BLACKOUT by Mira Grant - Book Review

[Note: This review was originally published on PostWhatever.com on May 6, 2011. Seanan McGuire is JordanCon 2013's Author Guest of Honour and I'm stupid with excitement.]

Rating: 5/5 - So delicious that I read until my eyes went blurry!

Title: Blackout (book three of The Newsflesh Trilogy)

Author: Seanan McGuire writing as Mira Grant

Format: mass market paperback

Published: 2012

Genre: Horror/Thriller/Science Fiction

Publisher:
  Orbit Books

Landed in my hands:
purchased myself


Summary (from the cover blurb):

The world didn’t end when the zombies came. We just wish it had.

The conspiracy that rules post-zombie America is alive and well. The same can’t be said of the bloggers who dared tell the truth as they found it.

Now, with too much left to do and not much time left to do it in, Shaun Mason and his team must face mad scientists, zombie bears, and rogue government agencies--and if there’s one thing they know is true in post-zombie America, it’s this:

Things can alway get worse.

BLACKOUT is the conclusion to the epic near-future trilogy that began with the Hugo-nomiated Feed and its sequel, Deadline.


Review:


It says an awful lot about Blackout that I was a good 250 pages in before I remembered to stop and take notes. Any time I get that immersed in what I’m reading, it’s a good sign, and I’m happy to say Seanan McGuire has done a great job continuing the adrenaline rush she began with Feed and Deadline.

That said, I kind of feel I’m repeating myself with this review. What struck me as squee-worthy in the other installments did the same all over again in Blackout: the charmingly idiosyncratic characters, the snappy dialogue, the logical evolution (devolution?) of society, and the realism of her worldbuilding...

A great example of the nuances of post-Rising society is this snapshot of necessary changes to property law:

Durno v. Wisconsin was the case that decided the dead had no rights regarding property on or around their immediate persons at the time of death, making it perfectly legal to take a zombie’s car and claim it as your own. It’s been abused a few time over the years. It’s still seen, and rightly, as one of the best legal decisions to come out of the Rising. I mean, who has the time to transfer a pink slip in the middle of a zombie uprising?

It’s these little offhand remarks on the part of the narrator that give such great insight into the post-zombie-apocalypse world, most specifically into the state of the infrastructure and social systems. Most of my experience in zombie-based entertainment includes mass panic and a heavy dose of “everyone for themselves” mentality. McGuire’s take on how society would adapt — including constant viral testing, the basic infrastructure of new-build safety juxtaposed with pre-zombie architecture, and modifications to the government and established social systems for safety and efficiency — well, it’s incredibly well-conceived.

And with that, I’m a convert — erm, converted fan? (Somehow this doesn’t sound right. I swear I haven't amplified. Yet. Heh.) Feed was my first taste of zombies in the literary sense, and it will be far from my last.

Now if only I didn’t suspect Seanan McGuire had set the bar incredibly high...

Oh! Just one more thing: I'm going to go on record (my spoiler alarm's ringing too loudly for me to say in what capacity) and say that I was wrong about a particular aspect of this trilogy and I am more than happy to be wrong.

Because (nutshell version), I was sold on one view, and when McGuire pulled the rug out from under me it was oh, so satisfying!

And that, my friends, is why I read: I love being surprised shocked struck dumb by a twist. And when it's done so well I'm floored because completely didn't see it coming? I'm oh so excited to admit I'm wrong...

Thank you, Ms McGuire. It was worth it. All of it.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Secrets of Pinterest

I'm going to share a secret, ready?

I have no idea where people come from on Pinterest.

Seriously. It's like they trickle out of nowhere and suddenly I have a flood of people following my boards. I'm on Pinterest, like, twice a week. Maybe. And usually just to pin PostSecret postcards, because I plan to use them as creative writing fodder.

See, the secret with PostSecret is that it changes every week—but if you pin the image on Pinterest, you get to see it weeks after it's been lost to the rest of the Interwebs. Nice, eh?

Anyhow. Overall I've been too busy lately to actually peruse the Pinterest marketplace or even just check out what the people I follow are pinning... it's been that busy around here.

But people keep following me... and I have posted some odd shit in the past (still do, to be honest). At one point I was pinning stuff from a Tumblr blog (it's since shut down) with a highly inappropriate name just to see if anyone noticed...

Stuff like this (I'll let industrious individuals go on the hunt for the site name if they choose... ha!):

 

Inappropriate site names or not (or more likely: unobservant people, ha!) I only gained more followers.

(Well, I can hardly blame them. Tie + light saber + kissable lips does equal win...)

These followers have taught me something, though. I haven't censored myself on my Pinterest boards. I've been as weird as I want to be; my boards are as obnoxious or as idiosyncratic as I choose...

Something something be yourself... ? (Nah, that's not quite right...)

Something something the energy you put out into the world returns...? (Hm... closer...)

Something something like attracts like...? (Yeah, that sounds more fitting.)

It's rather reassuring to know there's a lot of weirdos out there... heh.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Sundry Musings

March break... she is done. Yes, today the kidlets go back to school, and I get to enjoy a string of uninterrupted hours cleaning the house without distraction.

Which is fabulous, because I swear there's a correlation between consecutive days off school and the how rough the kidlets play... they beat the crappit out of each other, but when I tell them to stop they insist it's fun.
 
(I'm becoming more and more convinced that ovaries hold all common sense...)

Other than that, March break was... long. We did some running around, did some socializing, got some costuming done, discovered Hamster had to leave us...

Did you know it costs $50 to euthanize a hamster in this town?!

He had a tumor between his forepaws and the poor jerk (shut up, he was jerk. I explained it all here) was walking like he'd had a beach ball strapped to his chest, and had stopped eating and drinking.

But it's par for the course, really... hamsters live 2-3 years, and his second birthday was on March 10th. (Yes, we celebrated. Who doesn't mark the calendar for their hamster's birthday? Pfft... he totally appreciated his extra chews and the rendition of "Happy Birthday" disturbing his daily slumber sung mid-afternoon).

Sorry, dude. You had a good run for a rodent.
Believe it or not, you'll be missed. (Antisocial bastard.)

Anyhow. Agonized over the decision on that one, because (let's face it) it's a $13 hamster and a $50 vet bill. I'd be lying if I said Mr Lannis didn't consider quick and humane "creative alternatives." Unfortunately there wasn't a lot of time to ruminate on said alternatives, as he was clearly done... (this holds true for both Hamster and Mr Lannis...)

When it gets down to the nitty gritty, though, I'd rather neither one of them suffer...

In other news, my apologies, as on Friday I discovered the Disqus comment system I'd installed was holding out on me, and when I went to tinker with it so it wouldn't behave so inanely in the future, I accidentally dumped all the comment love my readers had left... (thank you, Disqus! But thank you more, people who actually read my dribble!)

To recap: Disqus is the douchebag responsible, I just work here.



Friday, March 15, 2013

Torn (Flesh?)

Okay, so... I was scrolling through my newsfeed on Facebook this morning and a friend of mine mentioned that she was interested in finding some of these...



Etsy to the rescue!

Now understand, I am not the garden ornament type. I'm not a fan of woodland animals peeking out between my hostas and lilies—unless they're breathing. There are no resin angels or fairies doing their thing (whatever that may be) in my garden.

But these aren't your everyday cartoon frog cast in cement...



They're positively whimsical, yes?

They're a touch pricey, but I love 'em. And the kidlets are kidlets—it's not like they're going to get freaked our or anything, they love zombies, and they take things in stride. They think zombies are gross and fascinating in that manner of boys when it comes to anything possibly described with the adjectives disgusting, slimey, and/or barf-tastic.

I'm hovering oh so close to clicking that purchase link...

But...

See, the thing is, it's 100% an impulse buy. And it's not like Mr Lannis is going to balk and think I'm crazy (he married me, remember? He's well aware of the insanity. Maybe he thinks it's endearing or some garbage... I'm still confused...)

No, it's more that we moved to this house almost three years ago, and I'm, well, torn...

Yes, torn.

Torn between trying to appear respectable (at least for a little while, in our relatively new town), and admitting that we're the oddball weirdo hicks on the corner...

Realistically, though? The weird is going to leak out eventually... and it usually makes a mess... (heh.)

It's March. In Canada. Gardening season doesn't start for (at least) another two months (le sigh). No need to make any rash decisions—and if I wait a while I can at least pretend it's not an impulse buy, right? Right?

Right.

And as much as Mr Lannis is my grounder, I'm fooling myself if I think he's not going to go apeshit with glee at the thought of unsuspecting dog walkers catching sight of a zombie gnome by streetlamp light...

(He's fun like that.)

This same friend has mentioned on her Facebook post that she's looking to attract the right kind of people in her own neighbourhood, and that these gnomes will help "fend off the nincompoops."

Best. Pitch. Ever... Mr Lannis will totally buy that... (heh.)

Wish me luck...

KUSHIEL’S DART by Jacqueline Carey - Book Review

[NOTE: This review was originally published on PostWhatever.com on December 29, 2010.]


Rating: 4.5/5 - Writing down the title so I can recommend it to everyone.

Title:  Kushiel’s Dart (book one of the Kushiel’s Legacy series)

Author:  Jacqueline Carey

Format: mass market paperback

Published: 2001

Genre: Epic Fantasy

Publisher:  Tor Fantasy

Landed in my hands: purchased myself

Summary (from the cover blurb):

The land of Terre d’Ange is a place of surpassing beauty and grace.  It is said that angels found the land and saw it was good... and the ensuing race that rose from the seed of angels and men live by one simple rule: Love as thou wilt.

Phèdre nó Delaunay is a young woman who was born with a scarlet mote in her left eye.  Sold into indentured servitude as a child, her bond is purchased by Anafiel Delaunay, a nobleman on a very special mission... and the first one to recognize who and what she is: one pricked by Kushiel’s Dart, chosen to forever experience pain and pleasure as one.

Phèdre is trained equally in the courtly arts and the talents of the bedchamber, but, above all, the ability to observe, remember, and analyze.  Almost as talented a spy as she is a courtesan, Phèdre stumbles upon a plot that threatens the very foundation of her homeland.  Treachery sets her on her path; love and honor goad her further.  And in the doing, it will take her to the edge of despair... and beyond.  Hateful friend, loving enemy, beloved assassin; they can all wear the same glittering mask in this world, and Phèdre will get but one chance to save all that she hold dear.

Set in a world of cunning poets, deadly courtiers, heroic traitors, and a truly Machiavellian villainess, this is a novel of grandeur, luxuriance, sacrifice, betrayal, and deeply laid conspiracies.  Not since Dune has there been an epic on the scale of Kushiel’s Dart — a massive tale about the violent death of an old age, and the birth of a new.


Review:

Okay wow, that cover blurb was long.  But it had to be — this is one of those books that has so much to talk about, and bizarrely enough, I don’t think that blurb reveals anything!  And I usually preface talking about Kushiel’s Dart by saying it’s not for everyone, but if it’s for you, it’ll be on your keeper shelf.

This narrator has a remarkably poetic, formal voice that took a little getting used to, but once I’d adjusted, I found myself sucked into this story.  Phèdre is a very strong heroine, with a very distinctive voice, and the tale is told through her perspective.  I won’t be forgetting her easily (even though, at times, I really just wanted to slap some sense into her!).

I’ve spoken to other readers of this book, and it seems that the consensus is the same.  It’s difficult to discuss this story without bringing up the sexuality laced throughout it, and then suddenly the book is more about taboo than the actual narrative itself.  Yes, Phèdre’s universe is one in which sex is more openly spoken of, but that is not what Kushiel’s Dart is about!  Part of me is in utter awe that Carey went there, and so honestly and skillfully — the woman has stones! — and it is this same awe that makes me feel like a complete prude.

As a reader I have a pet peeve about sex scenes appearing in a book for the sake of there being sex scenes in said book.  Let me be clear:  Carey's use of sexuality and Phèdre's occupation are both necessary to drive the plot and develop characters.  Carey does not flamboyantly insert scenes that are unnecessary — they have purpose, and it is of that well-plotted purpose that I am in awe.  She went there.  And it makes sense.

There’s so much more to Kushiel’s Dart than its frank and poetic treatment of sexuality.  It has excellently plotted political intrigue that didn’t bore me(!), it has adventure and travel, a lovely skewed-renaissance world setting that draws very intricate cultural and religious lines from our own world, romance, humour, mythical gods, war, magic, and heroes, and... it’s the very definition of Epic Fantasy.

In actuality, this is a love story; a story about loving your family, your friends, and your homeland.  It’s about challenging yourself to do everything you can to save everything you love.  (And I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I wholeheartedly fell in love with Joscelin Verreuil.  To the point where if Joscelin ever shows up at my door, I might just have to run away with the man.  No worries, folks, I’ve already warned my husband... ha!)

I blew through all six of the Kushiel’s Legacy series this summer, and they have a gravity and intensity to them that quenched my thirst for epic adventure.  I have been blessed in my reading this year, and Carey is definitely one of the reasons.

I did notice a trend, though, in that these very lengthy books (700-1000 pages) seem to have a buffer — a distinct orientation — in the beginning, a good hundred pages or so before the action truly starts.  Personally, I'm fine with that, and especially in an epic like this, set in an alternate universe, there's a certain amount of world-building legwork necessary before an author can expect their reader to follow along.  That is not to say the first hundred pages are entirely world-building:  it's lead up to the critical event that begins the action.  And everything before is just as important in order to fully understand the characters and what motivates them.  I must say that when that critical event occurred in Kushiel's Dart, I literally shouted "no!" and spent the rest of the book wishing it had somehow been a mistake.  I was hooked, and nothing was going to keep me from finding out how it ended.

I strongly urge anyone interested in this title to check out Amazon.com’s “Look Inside” feature and read the first six pages given.  It’ll give you an idea of Phèdre’s elaborate poetic diction, and just might suck you in.  Cheers!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Judgement

Life affords us many parenting opportunities, if you’re paying attention.

Yesterday’s lesson? Using your judgement.

I’m a big advocate of behaving as if my kids have brains of their own—if I model that I expect them to think for themselves, hopefully they’ll grow up to be adults who do so.

(That’s the plan, anyway.)

I also admit that I can’t police the world, so I am trying to impart the lesson of using judgement to my boys.

What do policing the world and judgement have in common? Well, when I take my children out in public, I can’t very well expect people to notice them and set their own behaviour switch to the G-rating.

It’s not feasible.

Our vacation to an all-inclusive resort in Cancun this past February is an excellent example. The pool was a giant network of coves and lagoons, with bridges and alcoves and plenty of places for children to hide right around the corner from unsuspecting adult vacationers spending the majority of their hours poolside consuming their weight in alcohol.

I take it as a given that alcohol equals lowered inhibitions, and for many that also means a more, um, expressive vocabulary, as well as lowered observation skills.

I get it. I swear a LOT when drinking. Honestly, I can give truckers a run for their money. I own it.

And I’ve sworn in front of my kids, too—accidentally. I try not to, but I’m not perfect. My point (as this is getting lengthy) is that I can’t very well go around picking fights with grown adults over their use of profanities in front of small ears.

While I’m sure I could the outwit sun-baked and spirit-soaked, it’s plain assholery to bring kids into a pool with two swim up bars and poolside wait service and expect the same vocabulary exhibited in a preschool.

So what do I do? I teach judgement.

I tell my kids that, yes, they’re going to hear grown ups make choices and use words that aren’t kid-friendly. They’re going to hear lots of inappropriate language, and their father and I are trusting them to use their judgement not to repeat it.

They’re not stupid. They know the giggle-worthy off-limits lingo they’ll get in trouble for repeating.

Right now it’s mostly bad words they’ll hear, but one day they’ll be old enough to recognize language and behaviour that is inappropriate because it’s disrespectful or hate speak. They’ll get it.

Their eyes light up when they catch a bad word, and they’ll meet my gaze with pursed lips and secret glee, and a nod from me is all they need as a reminder not to say it... and they’re proud to be trusted.

Bonus: I get a break from constantly saying (to others or my kids) that such-and-such is a bad word, or just picking fights to get people to calm the hell down when around kids.

Anyhow.

Yesterday’s lesson in judgement: assess a situation and think for yourself.

Yes.

We have an outdoor cat named Moghedien (Mo-giddy-en. Go with it). She’s less than a year old and a fierce hunter.

I’m sure you see where this is going?

Yep. I spotted her form lingering outside the kitchen’s sliding glass door—her telltale signal that she wants in—and told the seven year old to let her in.

So he did.

Suddenly the kitchen is a flurry of kidlet squeals and shouts:

“Moggie! What did you do?!”

“Moghedien! EWWWW! What IS that thing?!”

MOM! It’s bleeding on the floor!”

OH, GROSS! Moggie, don’t EAT it!”

“There’s blood on the floor! BLOOD ON THE FLOOR! She’s LICKING it! GAH!”

DISGUSTING! Get it out! Get it out! MOOOOOOOOOM!”




"Humans! Calm the fuck down! I've done this before! Trust!"

I’ll admit that their protests wouldn’t have been so numbered except I was too busy chuckling and digging for the cell phone to take a quick pic. (Heh. I’d noticed pretty quickly that the mouse was limping pathetically, so I had no fear of it disappearing into the recesses of the house—not that Moghedien isn't clearly equipped to rectify that...).


Cat's ear position clearly screams annoyance.

Using Tupperware to scoop up the mangled mousey, I tossed him back out the door and kicked the cat out, too, with orders to finish the job she started.

Then I turned to my oldest, who’d let her and her snack into the house, and said, “Guess what we learned today?”

“What?”

“We learned that we can’t always do what Mom says, just because she says it. We need to assess a situation and use our judgement.”

He pondered this. “So the next time you say to let her in the house, if she has something in her mouth, I can say no?”

“Yes, you can say no.”


The grin I received was huge.

A little bit of power goes a long way... (crossing my fingers it’s in the right direction...)

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Kijiji Courtesy

You know what breaks my brain? Kijiji.

Okay, not always. There are times when I manage to post ads, communicate, and actually buy and sell items on the free classifieds site.

Like it was designed for it or something... go figure.

But every once in a while, I encounter someone who makes my head hurt. And it might be the jaded part of me speaking, but my brain bleeds. I’ve ranted on and on about Kijiji before, on The Mrs blog.

Today’s aneurism-inducing example is this:





I have an ad posted. The response I receive is: “where r u located”

No question mark. No uppercase letters. No salutation, no “hi there, how's your mom? I’m interested in your item...”

Forget sentences—it's lacking COMPLETE WORDS! ::headdesk::

For reals, guys. For REALS.

And I’m not saying you need to take me out for dinner and a movie, but addressing me with civility might garner a more positive response.

How did I respond? With the name of my town, and that’s it. I was hoping this person would realize that being short with someone with whom they’re attempting to foster a transaction is not a stellar idea.

I realized my subtextual message was lost when this person immediately replied with “where in X”.

Um... thanks.

Thanks for reminding me of the primary rule when dealing with idiots: they have no self-awareness, hence it’s nigh impossible to rehabilitate them.

Also? I am not the idiot whisperer.

It begs the question though, do I even want to bother...?

At this point? Truthfully? No. And this particular ad has had enough interest that I’m not worried about the ability to sell the item.

Yes, I’m a bitch.

Actually, it’s more that I have no patience for rudeness, and you only get one chance to make a first impression, yes?

Thankfully, I live in Canada—where I can choose not to do business with this person... I seriously do not want to exercise the option that requires setting eyes on them. I'd rather wend my way through idiot-free paths. Or at the very least, lower my chances of encounters with their kind by not pursuing this further...

But I’m stuck... I can’t stop wondering... DO PARENTS NO LONGER TEACH MANNERS?!

Honestly. My brain... she bleeds.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Quiet

My house... is quiet.

Like, not right now—okay, yes right now—but, like, 95% of the time.

I’m not talking about the boys—they’re kids. Kids make noise. I’m talking about background noise.

Growing up, our radio was on in the kitchen, perpetually. I learned to read on a bus, my nose in Nancy Drews while I bounced my way to school and back. I know the TV wasn’t always on, but it was on far more than ours is now.

(And yes, we only have one in our household. Gasp!)

Truth is: I like the quiet.

Our oldest, who’s seven, has remarked more than once that he loves being home because it’s peaceful.

Now, he’s a kid who had blocked Eustachian tubes and couldn’t hear well for years before we figured it out. Ambient noise was a culture shock for him, to say the least.

It’s nice to have the quiet. Occasionally our radio is on. Since being on an airplane, the boys enjoy wearing earbuds when using the Leapster or Tag Reader... they appreciate the quiet, too.

Our TV is off mostly. There are strings of days where nobody bothers to turn it on. Truth.

We don’t have cable, but we have plenty of kids’ TV shows on DVD, and lots of movies for them to watch—which they do on Friday nights (movie night) or on weekends if it’s raining. It’s on nightly after the boys go to bed when Mr Lannis is on day shift—we watch a couple episodes of whatever we’re into at the moment before retiring for the night, but if he’s on afternoon shift, I don’t bother turning it on. Evenings are spent costuming while listening to podcasts on iTunes, or reading... that’s pretty much it.

Yes, it’s quiet. Yes, it can take some getting used to. I think my daycare charges are still shell shocked that the house can be so silent while they play—and they do play, loudly, four kids together. And that’s great. I have no issue with the cacophony of childhood—it’s the incessant buzz of background noise and what it does to the brain that bugs me.

It’s draining.

Other things are draining, too. The obnoxious commercials of radio and TV stations. The sensation of planning your days based on what’s scheduled on TV.

 To be lacking all that? It’s very freeing... and relaxing. Easier to focus.

Like right now, as I write this at 5:19pm on a Saturday afternoon, the only background noise is of Mr Lannis and the boys talking while they dig through the Lego bins and build elaborate creations. That’s it. No radio. No TV. Nothing yakking at us.

Peaceful.

Oh, I stand corrected...

The five year old is complaining that Mr Lannis is swishing through the Lego bins too loudly...

(Heh.)

Monday, March 11, 2013

DEADLINE by Mira Grant - Book Review

[Note: This review was originally published on PostWhatever.com on June 15, 2011. Seanan McGuire is JordanCon 2013's Author Guest of Honour and I'm stupid with excitement.]


Rating: 5/5 - So delicious that I read until my eyes went blurry!

Title:
Deadline (book two of The Newsflesh Trilogy)

Author: Seanan McGuire writing as Mira Grant

Format:
mass market paperback

Published:
2011

Genre:
Horror/Thriller/Science Fiction

Publisher:
  Orbit Books

Landed in my hands: purchased myself

Summary (from the cover blurb):

Shaun Mason is a man without a mission. Not even running the news organization he built with his sister has the same urgency as it used to. Playing with dead things just doesn’t seem as fun when you’ve lost as much as he has.
But when a CDC researcher fakes her own death and appears on his doorstep with a ravenous pack of zombies in tow, Shawn has a newfound interest in life. Because she brings news -- he may have put down the monster who attacked them, but the conspiracy is far from dead.
Now, Shaun hits the road to find what truth can be found at the end of a shotgun.    

Review:

Ooh! Ooh! Who’s glad they pushed themselves out of their genre comfort zone with Feed?

Me!

And even more for promptly picking up Deadline, because it is such a rewarding read.

Grant has a great ability to keep the pace running with cliffhanger chapter endings. And I’m a sucker every time. Seriously, if my eyes literally hadn’t been blurry (yes, that rating system is based on reality) I would have read this in one sitting. Yep, I’m certifiably converted. Feed was my first zombie book, Deadline the second, and I’ll be damned (heh) if I don’t get my hands on the forthcoming Blackout, too.

There are a couple of casting changes from Feed to Deadline — to be expected within zombie and conspiracy tales alike — and Grant’s twist on this is refreshing. Shaun, Georgia’s brother, is the viewpoint character, and I was delighted to find him as entertainingly disgruntled in his commentary (and internal struggle) as George is in the first book. And their relationship is interesting as always, to say the least.

The lines of conspiracy have developed further in this installment, and Shaun, not the born-leader type, has to step up and lead the blogger crew of After the End Times to the truth. The all-encompassing, Big Brother-eqsue idea of government using and abusing power and information is not a new idea, but still all too chilling in its possibility. Power, corruption, all that jazzy goodness, am I right? Add a zombie outbreak, and suddenly it’s a dry conspiracy story no more...

The subtle comparisons the characters make between their current world and that which existed before the Rising (the first onslaught of the virus that created zombies), lends believability to the story. Grant is thorough with her logic for her setting, and the resulting forced adaptation of the society that she has created is both tragic and fascinating. The reality these characters inhabit varies significantly from our own, and Shaun’s filter is an amusingly irritated way to see how the world has changed. His take on grocery stores as potential death traps makes perfect sense:

I’ve seen pictures of pre-Rising grocery stores. They’re weird, cramped things, with narrow aisles filled with milling consumers — and of course, when the zombies came, they turned into effective little death traps, full of places for the infected to hide. Even the sprinkler systems they used to run over the vegetables worked to spread the outbreak, since all it took was a few drops of blood getting into the water system, and bam, you were literally misting live infection throughout the produce aisle. [...] The rise of the modern grocery store has been a reflection of people’s twin needs to eat and not get eaten. The layout is closer to the old megastores than anything else, but only a certain number of people are allowed in each department at any one time. Groups cycle through according to the store’s floor plan, with air locks and blood testing units between each distinct part of the store. The process takes hours. Grocery shopping is not an activity for the faint of heart.

::shudder::

My instinct is to imagine having to bring a toddler with me, but of course, in Grant’s 2041, I’d barely take my child outside, let alone risk exposure in an outing to the grocery store.

It’s exactly the kind of authenticity of detail that stabilizes the entire story, enabling this reader to suspend her disbelief and sink into a zombified future.

Yes, zombies aren’t for everyone. I get that.

But if you’re even a little bit interested in broadening your reading horizons, I highly suggest you track down Mira Grant’s Feed, because The Newsflesh Trilogy is worth it, for sure.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Deplorable: A reaction to JANE EYRE and the devolution of language.

Having recently read listened to the tumultuous ramble that is Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë (via audiobook—it was seventeen hours long), I made my way to an appalling conclusion of proportions which, while not wholly devastating to our society, are certainly pathetic and wont to pull, at the very least, an ounce of dismay from the reader.

My conclusion, as such, is this: language is an evolutionary beast, and, as any organism likely to change and grow over time, it has done so with meticulous care in particular areas—the newfound words deemed of import enough to be regaled with inclusion in official dictionaries as a part of the growing public lexicon—and yet in the same instant, the tradition of language has become, well, simplistic.

Yes. A miserable thing. The English language is hearty, a language of fortitude and multitudinous possibility. And yet the colloquial fashion is to cast off the vibrant alternatives in favour of the more routine options; like a bird with feathers of myriad colours, and yet we focus on scarcely any, perhaps those scant plumes found at a wingtip, turning blind eyes to the possible visual feast.

Three things, learned I, from my seventeen-hour-long travels through the (proverbial) pages of Jane Eyre.

One: Regardless of intake, I am less than inclined to civility over the gothic novel. Despite using an audiobook to retrace my once-reluctant steps through Jane’s life, I maintain that the subject matter is dry, drawn out—as one would imagine a punishment would increase the seconds of every hour under its waste—and predictably vexing, as the sensibilities and judgements towards women, deemed the “fairer sex” resound within my skull with a ludicrous knell.

Two: Mr Rochester remains a dick. No fancy words need bolster such a sentiment. A selfish dick he was years ago upon my first perusal of Jane Eyre’s pages, and I maintain the years have done nothing to shift him from such status.

Three: The colloquial language of today has collapsed; imploded, if you will, upon itself. The general population would seem to abhor the use of creative sentences—with perhaps the exception of expletives—falling instead upon habit and a dribble of vocabulary, relying on repetitive modifiers and simplicity. With the vibrant lexicon of language we, as the culture of English speakers, have at our disposal—and it is truly a plethora of possible radiant locutions afforded us—we lapse into the invariable monotony that is our familiar (and tedious) communication.

I, myself, am guilty of these transgressions.

Is it a reaction to the increase of technology? A diminutive response to the ability to have every answer at one’s fingertips with the slash of a few keystrokes and the monolith that is Google? The telling slump of a failing education?

Or the sin of sloth? Are we simply too lazy to bother?

Regardless, my impressions upon reading listening to Jane Eyre have been twofold: conclusions regarding the story itself (and Mr Rochester’s resounding dickery), but more lasting is that of the discourse—the distressing deduction that our society’s usage of terminology (when one has the breadth of the robust English lexicon at our disposal as modes of expression) is rather deplorable.

In short: simply tragic.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Weathering the Weather

This is actually happening outside my house. Right. Now.



The darkness of the photo? Oh, that's because it's 10:30am in March. And it's snowing.

Yes. Big fat flakes, hence the drab cloudy sky.

Big. Fat. Flakes.

Weather that naturally lends you to think construction! Am I right?


They were shoveling snow out of those windows the other day...

Now I'm not complaining about the fact that there's construction quite literally on my doorstep... How could I, when it's allowed me views like this?:

Yes, I objectify men. At least I'm honest about it.

The above photo was back in our unseasonably warm October. And October, to me, falls (heh) naturally within the realm of assumed construction timelines.

That big crane-like thing has a hose. It pours concrete. CONCRETE. In snowy weather.


But this? Seriously? Something-something-maybe-Canada's-not-great-for-four-season-construction?

I got nothin'...

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Ninja Sandwiches

Yes, you read that correctly.

Lately my youngest (he’s five and a half) has taken to eating butter sandwiches. Those are exactly what they sound like—two slices of bread glued together with butter.

As we only buy hearty whole grain brown bread, I don’t see a problem with this.

(Yes, we’ve totally deceived them—they’re going to grow up and realize that unless it was a hamburger or hotdog bun, they missed the childhood boat that is soft gummy white bread. And yet if our kids grow up and decide the only thing they can hate their parents for is our choice of bread, well, I figure we’ll have done a lot of other things right. Heh.)

Every day when preparing his lunch (for school or our own table), I ask him if that’s all he wants for a sandwich. Plain butter.

To my surprise one day, there’s an adjustment.

“Ninjas,” he states.

Just like that. Ninjas.

Um. Okay, weird child who is clearly mine. Ninjas, sure. I wave my hands around, clang about the kitchen and (obviously) add ninjas to his sandwich.

He’s ecstatic. Until he looks at the sandwich, peeling the bread back to inspect the gooey peaks of butter clinging to the underside.

“Uh, Mom?” He points. “There’re no ninjas in here.”

“Well if you could see the ninjas, they aren’t very good ninjas, now are they...?”

Point for me, yes? Heh...

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Migraine

A migraine ate my weekend.

This might look like a complaint, but it’s not.

I’m not known to be a complainer—or at least, I don’t regard myself as one, and I doubt others would label me so. I’ve eaten my share of shit sandwiches in my life (some I’m still chewing, trust), but I like to cut through their fat by adding a dash of realistic perspective and a twist of self-deprecating humor until they don’t taste so... well?... shitty.

(How’s that for a metaphor?)

In regards to this migraine: I’m grateful.

Yes, grateful.

I’m one of the lucky ones (if any of us migraine sufferers can be classified as “lucky”) who receives a visual aura immediately before the migraine, and if I can manage to pop my blocker (good old over-the-counter Advil liqui-gels—honey of the gods, lemme tell you!) within the 20 minute window of warning provided, then I’m functional.

Functional meaning light-and-sound sensitive (read: squinty), tired, slow-of-thought, and generally enduring the sensation of a too-tight helmet squeezing the bejesus out of my head all. day. long.

The alternate choice is to not take my blocker and suffer the consequences. Suffer being the operative word here... migraine derails. It’s the definition of the lack of function.

Your head pounds. No, it doesn’t pound, it explodes. There is no room for thought, only pain. Every inch, crevice, and particle of your brain is stuffed with pain...

I’ve laid on the thinly carpeted basement floors of an empty house, with windows closed and blinds drawn, TV on but brightness down (it was only to show the inexorably slow progress of time, after all—when you’re suffering through the apocalypse inside your skull it’s helpful to know that time has not abandoned you...).

I’ve been too hot, too cold, alternately bundled in blankets and naked, in an attempt to still the misfiring flashes in my wiring...

I’ve twitched and cringed at the sound of the cats' footsteps. The CATS' footsteps. Hell, I’ve cringed at the sound of my own breathing...

I’ve laid, nauseous, panting, counting seconds with the pulse beating behind my eyes, begging the watery accumulation and the weight at the back of my throat to dissolve into nothing with the next relentless throb—because if writhing on the floor while your brain is attacked by an invisible aggressor sounds like a good time, well, the idea of fiery vomit ripping a torrent through your skull while you hug a porcelain bowl makes it a goddamn party...

Thankfully I’ve never actually vomited. (Knock on wood.)

And of course, through all this torment, I’ve prayed, prayed, prayed for it to stop.

It always goes on for hours. Hours. Six. Eight. Sometimes it continues until I crawl into bed and give up on the day. Food? Who cares. Water? I scoff at water—there’s no drinking. Drinking’s not for migraines... pffft.

And forget medication. Once it strikes, there’s no going back. You either manage to gulp down that blocker while the swirl of colourful aura takes a swipe out of your vision, or you suffer the consequences—there is no in between, and once the colours have faded, you’re fucked. Take anything else you want, hell, try voodoo for all I care—it won't help you.

And the longer you wait to take those meds? The worse the ordeal.

This was my downfall on Saturday. I walked out of a store and mistook the speck of my aura for sunshine glinting off a windshield in the parking lot. My auras track across my vision similar to an afterimage from bright light, and I often panic and mistake one for the other.

So I waited.

I shouldn’t have.

It was probably five minutes later when I realized my aura had grown to eat the left side of my vision, and if I hadn’t been on my own street, I would have pulled over and abandoned the thought of driving. I dug into my purse for my meds.

It was too late.

An hour later found me in the recliner, blinds drawn, blankets tucked, and cringing at the distant sound of my kids playing in the basement, while Mr Lannis tried valiantly not to clank utensils and dishes as he prepared a dinner I wasn’t going to eat.

Thankfully, it wasn’t as bad as it could be. I was hit hard for the first hour or so, but the next four were better... I was functional, but barely. And then it was the blessed respite of bedtime.

I can’t remember the last time I’d come this close to a full blown migraine. Yeah—this was nothing next to the real thing.

Aura-migraine sufferers are paranoid by nature. We religiously carry our blockers (if we have them). We’re usually known for having pain meds on us at all times, but dole them out sparingly, lest we leave ourselves with nothing in the event we fear most: the cranial apocalypse that is the migraine.

Speaking for myself, I tend to pop my Advil liqui-gels at the teeniest speck invading my vision. I’ve probably consumed entire bottles of unnecessary medication, a single gel cap at a time, in the effort to stave off that avalanche onslaught of pain.

And I won’t stop. It’s terrifying, the idea of missing that vital medication. Yes, heart-stoppingly terrifying. Anyone who’s had a true migraine—not a headache they’ve blown into a migraine through hyperbole, but an actual migraine—understands.

The sources of my migraines? Plenty. Could be a weather system moving in, perhaps too much sodium, maybe hormones, or stress, dehydration, extreme bright light, exposure to perfume (my allergy), or any combination thereof...

In short: who knows?

So why am I grateful?

Well, this is the first almost-full-blown migraine I’ve had in years. In my blocker-pill-popping paranoia I’ve managed to dodge a lot, many, my fair share and more.

I’d forgotten the wear it has on the body, I’d forgotten the migraine hangover—which is exactly what it sounds like: a hangover. Sunday I lay on the same recliner feeling on and off energetic then exhausted, fine then nauseous, all. day. long.

I napped. A lot.

When I say it ate my weekend, it’s no lie. Two days gone. Poof!

Yet it made me realize: I am blessed.

I am blessed because it hit on a weekend, and I had nothing pressing to do.

I am blessed because my children are well behaved and if Mr Lannis whispers that they need to be quiet for Mom, they do so, without question or complaint.

I am blessed to have Mr Lannis, who lets me tag out and collapse on the recliner.

I am blessed that this catastrophic monster doesn’t hit every week, or every month, or even once or twice a year.

I am blessed that my blockers work—when I get to them fast enough.

I am blessed. Yes, my brain wanted to explode, and during that time I had difficulty piecing two words together to bear a coherent thought, but it served as a timely reminder...

I am blessed.

So yes, I’m grateful.

Monday, March 4, 2013

THE DEMON TRAPPER’S DAUGHTER by Jana Oliver - Book Review


[Note: This review was originally published December 5th, 2012, on PostWhatever.com. Jana Oliver is an Author Guest at JordanCon 2013.]


Rating: 4.5/5 - Writing down the title so I can recommend it to everyone.

Title: The Demon Trapper’s Daughter

Author: Jana Oliver

Format: trade paperback

Published: 2011

Genre: Young Adult, Urban Fantasy

Publisher:
  St. Martin’s Griffin

Landed in my hands: purchased myself


Summary
(from the cover blurb):

Riley Blackthorne just needs a chance to prove herself -- and that’s exactly what the demons are counting on...

Seventeen-year-old Riley, the only daughter of legendary demon trapper Paul Blackthorne has always dreamed of following in her father’s footsteps. The good news is, with human society seriously disrupted by economic upheaval and Lucifer increasing the number of demons in all major cities, Atlanta’s local Trappers Guild needs all the help it can get — even from a girl. When she’s not keeping up with her homework or trying to manage her growing crush on fellow apprentice Simon, Riley’s out saving distressed citizens from foul-mouthed little devils — Grade One Hellspawn only, of course, per the strict rules of the Guild. Life’s about as normal as can be for the average demon-trapping teen.

But then a Grade Five Geo-Fiend crashes Riley’s routine assignment at a library, jeopardizing her life and her chosen livelihood. And as if that wasn’t bad enough, sudden tragedy strikes the Trappers Guild, spinning Riley down a more dangerous path than she ever could have imagined. As her whole world crashes down around her, who can Riley trust with her heart — and her life?


Review:

Okay, here we go.

::steps onto soap box::

A giant pet peeve of mine is when a cover blurb spoils a plot for me. The job of the cover blurb is to make you want to read more, not to summarize the entire story so succinctly that you’re 200 pages in and thinking, “okay, NOW she’s going to see the purple horse and learn her uncle never died but ran away, and he stole that frying pan that magically turns all scrambled eggs rainbow colours...”

Ahem.

Point being, I don’t like knowing what happens, hence the spoiler alarm. I’m very conscious of not spoiling plot-points for others, too.

::steps off soap box::

Now that that's said, you’d think I was about to bite into The Demon Trapper’s Daughter for its cover copy, right?

Not so. 98% of the cover’s blurb happens by page seven. BY PAGE SEVEN. And the last paragraph is vague enough that it satisfies my non-spoilery tendencies.

Kudos, St. Martin’s Griffin. You got me to pick up the book, and then Oliver wowed me by action and sucked me in far further than I’d anticipated in a first sitting — yep, the storytelling did the rest.

Seriously. I mean, I’m not sure what I expected from this book, but it certainly didn’t give me what I’d anticipated. Let me phrase that differently: I’d expected a good meal, but I didn’t anticipate a feast.

The idiosyncratic worldbuilding, the charm and depth of the protagonist, the realistic characters, the humour (seriously — Oliver could’ve dragged the joke about the tiny Biblio demons flipping the bird much farther before I’d’ve been tired of it... ha!). It’s a charming read, and very fresh.

Riley is a wonderful protagonist. She’s spirited, she's reactive, she’s stubborn, she’s a fully-fleshed out teen with ups and downs, insecurities, faulty logic, and well, she’s just plain badass.

Yes. Badass.

So if you want a gutsy heroine who’s not afraid to take on Hell itself, grab The Demon Trapper’s Daughter. I finished the last page and was disappointed I’d reached the end, so you can bet I’ve already burned through Soul Thief and Forgiven, the next two books in the series (also excellent), and I'm eagerly awaiting the release of Foretold, in December 2012.

Friday, March 1, 2013

It Never Fails...

So I posted an ad on Kijiji...



Wooden toddler table and chairs; free to good home. Well-loved (read: marked up), but plenty of play left in them. My boys have outgrown them. Come and get it.

And then this happens:




They haven’t sat at this table in months. Actually, aside from using the various parts of this setup for forts, I doubt anyone’s even thought about using this table and chairs for their proper function in years.

No exaggeration.

But see, I move it upstairs to ready it for pickup, and, well...





Everything’s better with Lego. Truth.