Friday, January 31, 2014

New Additions

So we gots us some fish.

Yes, the water's cloudy in this pic--no worries, it cleared up quickly after this thanks to the nitrite and nitrate levels balancing.

Six, for now. Since it's a new aquarium (I keep wanting to spell it acquarium—weird, eh?), we need to wait until it's established before we toss some more fish in there, and start the cycle again. It's a 20 gallon bad boy, so we can add quite a few fishy friends before it's at capacity, but we need to do it slowly.

Cool cool, I can be patient.

What? [Insert baffled self-righteous gasp here.] I totally can. I waited over 20 years to finish reading The Wheel of Time, didn't I?


Since Moggie ran away (selfish a-hole) and possibly got herself eaten (what a tool), we decided to add to our family—but knowing how much of an jerk Moghedien is/was, we'd better not choose someone who might infringe on kitty-cat territory should she actually turn up again (like an asshole would, so my money's on her returning in time for updating shots then bailing on us again).

Enter: the aquarium.

Minette is nonplussed—couldn't care less about the fish. Honestly, she spent a day glaring at them and us in turn—pretty sure she was projecting indignant displeasure as how could we do this to her again?! until I explained to her that unlike Hamster (another asshole pet) if the fish were to escape their cage, they'd dieand now she completely ignores the entire setup.

Cool. I can accept that.

So. Rigged up the aquarium and over the Christmas holidays we went and picked out guppies.

Yep. Guppies. The aquatic equivalent of puppies—and not just because they're phonetically similar. These wee peeps come a runnin' swimmin as soon as anyone approaches the glass, eager to get a look-see at who's on the other side.

Cool. The kidlets already love that the guppies come to say hi. Perfect. That's about as interactive as I can expect a pet fish to be, so I'm pleased.

There are six guppies all told for now, and we tried to grab ones with different colouring (all males)—though two accidentally match. They're now The Twins.

Their names are Bluety, Spot, Candy Cane, Shine, Sharp, and Rachel.

Sharp and Rachel are The Twins.

I don't judge—they're all naming improvements after Hamster. ::snort::

We'll see how this goes...

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Kitty Reincarnation

[Note: This post was originally published on The Mrs on September 29, 2012. And yes, she's still gone. Ungrateful sonofa...]

So Thursday, like the responsible pet owner I am — Sandi’s the one bribing strangers with baked goods to take her cat, okay? Mine just dropped dead in our basement of natural causes, I swear — I bundled up two boys to drop off Asmodean at the vet for his neuter...

Five months old. A touch young, but only a touch, and I’m an advocate of grabbing them quick before they (a) multiply into more catlets and (b) get hit by hormones and morph into psycho-feral cat-o-saurs.

(Like dinosaurs, but feral and with the ability to climb trees.)

Anyhow, three baffled scratched vet techs and a disgruntled kitten later, we arrived back at home, cat still in tow.

Because you can’t neuter girl parts, you see.

I shit you not, you can’t make this up. (I have been assured by Facebook that I am not the only person this has happened to...)

So yeah. Asmodean, our little boy, is in fact more of a Halima (Wheel of Time joke, heh.). He’s a she. And now the name Asmodean just doesn’t fit.

Which is kind of good, because our neighbours were a touch perplexed as to why we had a cat named Asmodean and this bumper sticker on the van:

And let’s face it, most of them are aware Shakespeare dropped dead on Friday the thirteenth. (Um... and that I’m a little nuttier than your average fruitcake housewife.)

First thought: must be another baddie-WoT name. MUST.

Halima? Hallie for short? Boys vetoed it.

Mesaana? No. Just... no.

Alviarin? Alvie? Meh.

Lanfear (heh — it can be argued she cut off Asmodean’s whatsits... thanks for that, Richard). ::sigh:: No.

Selene? Nah, too prissy by far— despite this cat being a bonafide snuggler, it’s less manipulative and more simple cuddling. Too nice.

Moghedien?... Moggie? The boys cheered, because Moghedien is just fun to say, darn it!

Imagining veterinarians, vet techs, receptionists, and just about anybody not WoT-affiliated encountering the name on paper and attempting to wrap their tongue about it (ha HA!) kept my interest...

Then, (shoutout to my favourite podcasters), I couldn’t help but smile at the thought of calling an aging black cat by the nickname “Ol Mog.” SOLD!

So that’s the story of how Asmo became Moggie, and we’re still unsure if the new name will stick. She’s currently sitting in the middle of the living room floor with her back to us, displaying prime kitty disdain for the day’s indignity (because I’m writing this on Thursday evening, natch). But I have hope.

Also? I’m incredibly stubborn. And cats aren’t exactly known for coming when called, so I WIN!

(The thing is, I could swear I’ve only seen Toms with noses that long... hm.)

Yeah, I got nothin’... uh... except a gratuitous kitten cuteness shot.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Red Toaster

One day our toaster decided to be a jackass to no longer latch when the lever was engaged.

As in: it no longer wanted to toast. In essence, it suddenly was toast. (Heh.)

I mentioned it to Mr Lannis, said we could probably find a good deal at our local second hand store.

I'm cheap frugal. I love me a good second hand store, because I love a good deal and I like to recycle.

Normally I don't purchase things that require electricity at thrift stores—you never know if they're going to work—the exceptions being small appliances like irons (I have two, each with a designated task: one for sewing and one to lift stains from the carpet), and toasters. If they bust, well, it only cost $3 so what does it really matter? A toaster is a toaster, and an iron is an iron after all—their jobs are pretty straightforward, and bells and whistles don't matter much when the nutshell of your job is to get warm.


Shortly thereafter I go grocery shopping. There, in the aisle with the chips, I spot a schnazzy red toaster calling my name.

She's purdy.
 She was $19.99.

Nope, can't justify that.

In Ontario we also have tax, so that toaster wouldn't just cost $19.99, but $19.99 plus 13% tax. Yeah. Pretty, right? Ugh.

So I go home and whine relate the tale of the shiny red toaster to Mr Lannis, who helpfully points out I have no business in the chip aisle has decided we need to suck it up and jiggle the lever for our old toaster until the damn thing decides to latch.

Of course, he's not making toast for (sometimes seven) kids in the morning before school.

Off I go the next week, grocery shopping as per my routine, and there's the shiny red toaster again. This time it's on sale.

$14.97. A savings of $5.02.

This I can justify. It's pretty. I like red. We need a toaster. I tell Mr Lannis.

Mr Lannis says I should go ahead and buy the toaster (okay, you got me—I'd already made up my mind to buy it at this point, but I like to give him the illusion that his opinion sways me run things by him anyway).

So back I go to grab me a red toaster. At the self-checkout, my stomach drops when my marvelous toaster scans in at full price.

Yes: $19.99!

What shenanigans is this...?

I call the attendant over, and she sends someone to check the posted price. Yep, $14.97. It's registering incorrectly.

Oh, and there's a policy at this particular store (Zehrs, a Loblaws sister store), that dictates that if you catch something ringing in at the wrong price it is then free—up to a $10 amount.

So I get $10 off the price of my toaster.

Really truly, no guff!

After tax this girl came to a whopping $6.92.

One little red toaster, sitting on my counter, making me smile for multiple reasons.

It wanted to come home with me.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Orange is the new nobody.

It's January. In January I do January things. This means I sort and purge.

Okay, that's a lie—that's not just a January thing around the Lannis house. That's an ongoing process that repeats itself as necessary (which is code for either too often or not often enough, depending on the task).

Since Santa brought the kidlets enough new markers and crayons to outfit an army of boys, I decided to go through the colouring supply bin and remove any defunct items.

We're currently in the process of upgrading to pencil crayons, so I gathered all the wax crayons together in a pile, discarding all the broken bits and leftover junk and compiling the rest for traveling purposes (when you travel with as many kids as I do, a bag of crayons in the van definitely falls under emergency preparedness—just saying).

Want to know what I discovered? (Of course you do!)

Apparently orange gets no love. The clear majority of untouched-almost-new-crayons in our bin were orange (and many of its relatives on the colour wheel).

So there you go.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

A few lessons...

[Note: This post was originally published on The Mrs on April 28th, 2012. It's January, which means there's three months to JordanCon... shit, I need to get costuming! Yes, once again I'm procrastinating...]

Okay. So. You know when you’re excited for a trip and you’re raring to go, and you have all these tremendously high expectations...?

What happens? It’s a let down, right?

Okay, maybe not always, but there’s still a drawback... the fun has to end sometime, kids.

This weekend past I flew to Atlanta for five days to attend JordanCon (I have a recap here* and photos for public consumption here* if you’re interested).

And truly, I can recap this extra-long weekend in three words: It. Was. Awesome.

To be even more succinct, I can sum it in two words: sleepless bender.

Seriously. I don’t know what crept into my brain, but despite the litres of alcohol poured down my only-semi-tolerant throat, I found myself lying in bed blinking at the ceiling at 3am (except for Saturday night/Sunday morning, because I was still hanging in the hotel lobby until after 4am. Thank you, Jono).

Thankfully my amazing roomie had Ambien with her.

Also thankful that that ceiling wasn’t spinning — because Lord knows that was a distinct possibility.

So. Things I learned this weekend:

1. If a border guard leaves the partial sentence “so you’re...” hanging, never presume he’s asking where you’re going, just tell him you’re a geek — he’ll laugh and you’ll be waved through. Which is good because...

2. Those Kinder eggs in your checked baggage are illegal in the US. Seriously. I spent the weekend handing out the case of eggs I brought, joking they were contraband because I’d thought they simply weren’t available for purchase in the States, only to come home and shit kittens because it turns out they really are illegal.


3. It’s really creepy when your flight’s seat mate is not only the same age and astrological sign as you, but he met his wife the same year you met your husband, and you both got married the same summer. The wide-eyed question, “so when’s your anniversary?” is extremely awkward.

4. The decidedly neutral look in response to “I’m flying down for a fantasy convention” actually speaks volumes. If you ever receive this look, I’ll advise that it’s wise not to bother informing your seat mate that you’ve weapons in your checked baggage.

5. Apparently I have a “heavy” Canadian accent.

6. People laugh if you say you’re from “Canadia.” If they ask where that is, they’re probably trashed.

7. If you think you’ll find decent tea, you won’t. Always pack contingency tea bags (don’t worry, they’re legal. I just checked).

8. I’ve met some of my favouritest (sure, it’s a word) people via the Internet (to my mother’s chagrin, probably).

9. These same favourite people live far too far away — geography has been the bane of my existence in one form or another all my life, I suppose I should be used to it by now.

10. Three hours does not a good night’s sleep make. You will wake up still intoxicated.

11. When a room party is handing out free booze called “swill” it’s probably best not to partake, regardless of how charming the bartender may be.

12. Americans find Ontario Driver’s Licenses fascinating. I bet it’s the holograms.

13. Always tip Atlanta servers with loonies and toonies — they’re far enough from the border that they get a big kick out of it. They also like it if you snort and pretend you’re insulted that their snobby tip cup only takes “American paper.”

14. When possible, shoot short video recaps of your day. You will not remember the whirlwind otherwise. Also? Drunk you is probably entertaining.

15. There’s always far more free alcohol than you expect.

16. You’re far too old for weekend benders and you’ll feel every day of your years (but it’s only once a year, right?).

17. When you’re a trophy wife/stay-at-home-mom, your kidlets will scream and wail and beg you to come home via telephone, because it’s apparently terrifying when their anchoring fixture has run away from home...

18. These same kidlets will not care when you finally walk in the door. Especially if Star Wars is playing on the TV.

19. It takes a good three days (at least) to get over Con Hangover (which is less actual hangover and more a byproduct of alcohol and sleep deprivation).

20. It would appear to take far longer to get over Con Depression (the period of sadness that the fun is over for another year)... I’m still waiting.

21. Mr Lannis is an excellent single father, despite rug burns, mold in the toilet (I was gone FIVE days?!), lack-of-grocery shopping and increased fast food consumption (possibly related), and...

22. Hamster will only be fed once. In FIVE days. Despite any sticky notes left in plain sight.

23. Not noticing your hubby has gone to the trouble of rebuilding your clothesline until two days after you’re home will make you feel very, very guilty... even if he’s still tickled you noticed.

24. Absence really does make the heart grow fonder. Erm... and other things other adjectives. Heh.

25. Daddies spoil kids rotten when Mommy’s not around to hold the purse strings.

26. Elf ears are great souvenirs for little boys.

27. It’s never fun to walk out of the airport and smack dab into wet snow.

28. It’s never too soon to start the count down to next year — just don’t tell the Con Chair (yet).

29. And the last thing I learned...

Sometimes when you spend the winter puttering on a costume, even though your hubby thinks you’ve lost it (more than usual, that is), all your hard work is recognized...

Good thing I finally stopped procrastinating, eh?

And yes. I really came in first place. I swear I’ll shut up now. (Or I could be lying. Heh.)

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


January 2014 marked a grand milestone.

I have probably walked past this sign for the last time. (So I took a commemorative photo. Natch.)

Yes, it's all come full circle. May of 2014 would mark three years since the very beginning, and here I am, a few months shy of that and leaving—for likely the last time—the very genetics department that enabled me to diffuse my cancer bombs.

I was there for my annual breast exam as a part of the Ontario Breast Screening Program, but seeing how the docs involved could easily stick their hand into a box of implants to get an idea of what I'm sporting, well, they've effectively discharged me from the program.

I'm to have my regular physicals through my own doc, perform a cursory sweep monthly that will count as my breast self-exams, and call the genetics department yearly to hear if they've had any new research on my particular variant of the BRCA2 gene mutation.

No more appointments with the genetics department. No more OEBSP exams. No more chatting with genetics counselors and making a game of shocking them with morbid humour...

It's done.

Every step of the way I've encountered quality people—from the genetic counselors, the administration, the surgeons and doctors, the nurses, you name it. Knowing that my relationship of patient care with these people is ending is far more saddening than I'd anticipated.

It's odd to get to the end of an anti-cancer journey and be sad that you've come to its end. Of course I'm glad the procedures were successful—my chances of getting breast cancer are less than any woman walking this earth—but there's a melancholy note to this leavetaking nonetheless.

And of course the last person I say goodbye to is one of the very first I'd met. One who made me welcome and ensured I felt part family and not simply another patient pushed through a gauntlet of medical care.

Shemila, I'll miss you. As always, madam, you are a delight. Thank you.

Thank you, everyone.

Monday, January 20, 2014

The Good Food Box

A while ago I mentioned I was excited about our local Good Food Box.

And I still am.

And I've been keeping score--a tally of what we're getting in our box for our $15 each month, as well as the cost of the same produce that week if I were to have bought it at my favourite grocery store.

My savings? About $15-$17. SERIOUSLY.


This month's box (because I know you're wondering) held this--

10 lbs red potatoes
5 lbs apples
2 lbs onions
2 lbs carrots
1 pkg mushrooms
1 pkg radishes
1 pkg blackberries
1 head iceberg lettuce
1 zucchini
1 broccoli crown
1 bunch bananas

All for $15. This is the large box. The smaller box sells for $10.

Other months we've received items such as squash, spinach, kiwi, celery, blueberries, cabbage, parsnips, oranges, beets, green onion... generally you always get a bag of potatoes, carrots, onions, and apples--it's generally local or at least more easily attainable food in Canada.

All of it is fresh, delicious, and saves a chunk of our grocery bill.

Truthfully, I'm unsure how far this initiative stretches. There are plenty of Good Food Box programs across Ontario, but I don't know if it's Canada-wide, or provincially run on a hit or miss basis (Google tells me Manitoba has the program set up, but I'm too lazy I didn't check across the country).

I first heard of it when I was living in Toronto years ago, and I know Toronto still has their Good Food Box foodshare program set up (Toronto peeps: you are LUCKY! There's a fabulous variety of boxes available to you: organic, pre-cut, fruit-only... plenty of selection for everyone from busy families to seniors. Definitely worth checking out).

If you're in my ballpark of the province more information can be found here (though it seems out of date: the prices have increased slightly from what's listed). For anyone out of the Simcoe County area a quick Google search will show you what's available to you.

Mm. Food. What can I say? It's exciting.

Friday, January 17, 2014


I can't take credit for my latest foray into randomosity—a friend of mine (hi, Meg!) posted a pic on FB of her colourful egg-raffiti, and I immediately thought of Mr Lannis rolling his eyes the possibilities.

What better way to remind Mr Lannis I love him than to deface his prized eggs?


Okay, yeah, there're probably loads of more socially acceptable better ways, but I'm not a joiner, so whatevs.

And yes, I say his eggs because he's pretty much the only one in the household who eats them on a regular basis. Yes (now that Christmas baking season is over), that 2.5 dozen is all for him.


Now to see how long it takes him to discover the horror... shh...

UPDATE: This morning (January 22nd) there was a note saying he liked the scared eggs--so that's what... five days? Six, I think, from when I actually planted the Sharpied wonders, since it took a day or so for this post to go live. And if it weren't for the six or eight eggs in another carton that he had to use up first, I'd say we could extrapolate how long it takes Mr Lannis to go through eggs... as it stands we can only estimate, and it looks like six days equals approximately 2 dozen eggs. Oy... no wonder they're scared... ha!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Things I Do...

[Note: This post was originally published on The Mrs on August 18th, 2012.]

This will come as no surprise (uh, unless you just stumbled upon this blog randomly, in which case I say where have you been and have you read the archives?!)—

Ahem. Anyhow, this will come as no surprise to those who’ve been here a while (or who know me in person), but I make people laugh.

Bigger surprise? (Erm. Or maybe not a surprise at all...) Sometimes not on purpose.

Shocker, yes?

I have what I like to call a “broken filter” coupled with a strange lack of shame. Sure, I get insecure at times—I’m human, after all—but generally I’d rather err on the side of looking human, and giving bystanders onlookers a chance to laugh at with me, than appear unapproachable and cold.

This means I tend to engage with strangers in public. A friend of mine says it’s a clear sign I’m from a small town. I might agree. Somewhat. I couldn’t care less.

And it’s in my manifesto.

Of course, in practice, you have to realize that when wrangling a pair of boys solo through the third largest zoo in North America, your rambling monologue (which, let’s face it, isn’t floating as high over your kidlets’ heads as you’d like to believe) will earn you a few odd looks. Maybe a snort. A guffaw here and there. An open grin from a zoomobile driver...

What am I teaching my kids? That mom says stuff out loud, isn’t afraid to appear be weird, but most of all, that she explains stuff to them.

Yes, folks, this blog post is brought to you by the whine of another parent’s child, who was begging her mom to disclose why, oh why, oh WHY must we put more sunscreen on, we JUST did it this morning?!

For the love of everything mysterious and wonderful in this universe, just explain it, for crying out loud!

“I’m putting more sunscreen on because you got soaked in the thunderstorm, and the sun is back out bright and strong, and we don’t want your skin to burn off and shrivel up until you resemble a french fry.”

Easy peasy lemon squeezy. She’ll remember that.

My kids are used to it. So they don’t blink when we go someplace new and I make them wear matching shirts so I “don’t have to remember what you’re wearing” [read: can spot them more easily amid the throng of short people vying for a glimpse of some fuzzy/slimy/gross thing behind glass].

They don’t complain when I say, “all right, go stand at the wall so I can take the mandatory ‘this is what my kids look like today’ photo in case you get misplaced.”

(A dad manning a stroller nearby chuckled as they patiently waited for me to verify it’s a half-decent photo, then admitted it’s a great idea. For the record, they DO have faces. Just sayin’...)

They don’t flinch when I ask a restaurant clerk, “may I borrow your pen, please, so I can write my cell phone number on my kids?” and then follow through. Her snort of laughter earned her a wink from me.

They might roll their eyes, but they wait while I struggle with the camera to take a photo of us with hundreds of fish in the African Rainforest Pavilion, because the thunderstorm has scared off most zoo visitors and I say that if I don’t appear in at least a few photos, it’s like I let my kids loose at the zoo WITH NO ADULT ACCOMPANIMENT.

Which, let’s face it, is a dream come true. For them, AND for me. (Though in slightly different capacities. Heh.)

To one wandering gentleman who was clearly baffled by me (I could tell by your head shake and quiet chuckle): Yes, I meant it when I told the boys that if I don’t appear in a few photos IT’S LIKE I NEVER HAPPENED.

I’ve seen those photos. Albums and albums of them. And you know who’s missing? My mom. Because she was always behind the camera. Lesson learned, thanks.

So yes, I might explain things too much. And yes, I might earn a few laughs and bizarre looks along the way.

But when I get to the end of our busy busy day, and the boys want my foot added to the pic, instead of just theirs, it’s because they mean it when they say, “we want to remember you were at the zoo, too.”

They get it.

A little explanation goes a long way. Go figure.

Monday, January 13, 2014

One of these things is not like the others...

When decorating for Christmas—an act that seeped into every nook and cranny of the household this year—I came upon this scene in the china cabinet above our panty cupboards...

That, my friends, is Mr Lannis' favourite souvenir from our trip to Cancun in 2013, in with my Royal Doulton figurines.


Perhaps he just wants to feel pretty?

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Doing it right.

[Note: This post was originally published on The Mrs on July 14, 2012.]

Last weekend marked the end of a (wonderful!) whirlwind week for the Lannis family.

Our favourite American relatives (okay, our only American relatives) came to visit.

It’s Mr Lannis’ sister, Rhonda, her husband, and three daughters (ages 8, 6, and 3.5 years).

It was (naturally) psychotic around here — a little upside down to say the least.

If they weren’t sleeping here, then we were driving to see them where they were staying (an hour away at Nana’s house), and that was just to rendezvous.

The day’s actual agenda would range anywhere from local parks, to sandy beaches, to Canada Day celebrations, to monstrous theme parks (Canada’s Wonderland: despite the early-onset of gastro-intestional pain, missed rendezvouses, vertigo, nosebleeds, feared migraines, and not enough time in the day, you were surprisingly good to us).

And we’ve been riding this whirlwind approximately once a year since the kids were born — it gets easier every visit.

Years ago I learned to put a laundry basket of possibilities in the back of the van; backup clothes including PJs, bathing suits, towels, underpants, short and long sleeves for every family member, and just replacing whatever we’ve used from it each day. It’s been a godsend, not needing to pack and repack for each outing, simply replenish the snack cooler and jet...

In years past, this visit was a longer (closer to three weeks), but with all that distance between us and North Carolina, we’ll take what we can get. Those girls are absolute gems, and Mr Lannis’ sister and her husband are the kind of warm, hilarious, and laid back people everyone needs in their lives.

Truly, they make me feel blessed.

All the running around and kid-wrangling has got me thinking, though, about what makes these visits so successful. Somewhere along the line, quietly, without discussion, Rhonda and I have made an agreement when it comes to these five adventurous kids...

It has never mattered who belongs to which kid — if they are hungry or need to go to the bathroom, you feed them and take them, no question or thought about it. Granted, we establish food allergies first off, but after that there’s no, "well, go ask your mom," kind of foolishness.

We each discipline our own kids (unless, say, it's a violence-related infraction, in which case whoever is supervising the kids deals with it instantly, of course — and these issues, thankfully, are few and far between).

But food, drinks, and bathroom breaks? Especially in big public places like Wonderland? Just handle it.

We'll ALL benefit from the even blood sugar and lack-of-accidents... ha!

To our American Beavers: we love you and miss y’all already. ♥

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

AMERICAN GODS by Neil Gaiman - Book Review

Rating: 3.5/5 - Great if you’re in the mood for it, only okay if you’re not.

Title: American Gods

Author: Neil Gaiman

Format: ebook

Published: 2002

Genre: contemporary, urban fantasy


Landed in my hands:
purchased myself

Days before his release from prison, Shadow's wife, Laura, dies in a mysterious car crash. Numbly, he makes his way back home. On the plane, he encounters the enigmatic Mr Wednesday, who claims to be a refugee from a distant war, a former god and the king of America.

Together they embark on a profoundly strange journey across the heart of the USA, whilst all around them a storm of preternatural and epic proportions threatens to break.

Scary, gripping and deeply unsettling, AMERICAN GODS takes a long, hard look into the soul of America. You'll be surprised by what and who it finds there...


I am unsure what to say in the wake of this book.

Did I enjoy it? Yes. Do I think others will? It depends.

I know, I’m very helpful, aren’t I? (Heh.)

First off, I’m really glad I never read the blurb until I was about to write this review, because Laura’s death hooked me right away, and if I’d’ve known about it in advance, well, I’m not sure when this narrative would have grabbed me.

This is a book with layers; layers that you will either love or find annoying. I myself am vacillating between thinking it’s brilliant and pretentious. Neil Gaiman has been on my reading radar for years, and multiple times I was told to start with American Gods. So I did.

It kept me interested through the entire narrative—some plot lines were more interesting than others, but I wouldn’t say I was left unsatisfied upon finishing the book.

And I hesitate to call it urban fantasy, though it falls directly into the category. American Gods is larger than that, and sorrowful in a gritty, nostalgic way. Again: I enjoyed it.

But I wonder: if I didn’t have a bit of knowledge of world religions and pagan gods (and I’m not saying I’m some scholar of the category, only that I may be more familiar than the average reader), I wonder whether I would have understood some of the underlying themes of this book. I suspect it would leave the reader with a hunch that there was more going on, but likely without the drive to research exactly what that may be and therefore that same reader would be left an unsatisfying read overall.

This is why I’ve given it the rating I have: 3.5/5.

I suspect American Gods relies to heavily on the reader bringing much to the table in order to understand its layers in full; that knowledge of world religions, gods, and pagan rites will allow the reader to make natural leaps within the narrative, but without that same knowledge the reader will be left hanging. At the same time, I wouldn’t have Gaiman change it—I hate when an author is too blatant with their themes or condescends to their audience, but I can’t help but feel there’s a happy medium here that has been missed.

It’s why I think it’s pretentious: it’s written for those in the know. If you’re not cool enough to have an inkling about other religions, you’re going to miss out on all the awesome hanging in front of your face because you’re not cool enough to get it.

Did I enjoy it? Yes. Do I think people will enjoy it universally? Well, I think I’ve already answered that.

Will I read more Gaiman? For sure. Suggestion time: where do you think I should start?

Monday, January 6, 2014

Environmentally speaking...

Remember the 80s? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

Okay, I'll take the communal hit for the team here and say I remember the 80s.

In the 80s—or perhaps just in our household, as it occurs to me that my mother was a bit of an environmentalist freak—there was a lot of hubbub going on relating to renewable, reusable, recyclable resources, and the buzz words environmentally friendly.

Yes, that plus the eye-searingly-bright fluorescent colours, country hair bands, cassette tapes, dusty rose decor, My Little Pony (the original), scrunchie hair ties, and nasty jorts and you now have my childhood, erm, the 80s.

Mom spearheaded the Green Team at her school (she was a teacher), and let's put it simply and say she didn't leave work at work... even when it came to the extra curriculars.


It's a mentality that was bred into me and I can't avoid. It would seem (to me, at least) that in the post-environmental-tipping-point* society, people have given up trying to be more environmentally economical. I used to shudder at single use items being hailed in commercials. It'd be a lie if I said cutting the stress of sitting through commercials for throwaway items wasn't a factor in cancelling our cable.

We don't buy paper towels here. Or Lysol wipes. Or any other sort of sanitary-insta-use-and-toss-'em items. We use rags. Lots of 'em.

We also don't buy napkins. We, I (because let's face it, Mr Lannis isn't prowling Dollarama) use white facecloths. When they get irreversibly dirty (read: the bleach and borax do shit-all to reclaim them from The Nasty) they join the rag bag.

I can't handle purchasing napkins to toss—even those sourced from recycled paper, and even though with the green bin composting/waste diversion program in our county it means these crumpled paper bits never meet a landfill.

We've acquired extra napkins from fast food joints here and there—they're usually kept in glove boxes in our vehicles for emergency use. So yes, they are around. But our little stock is rarely depleted or requires replenishing.

The balance of the last package of napkins we bought for camping two years ago are still in the cupboard. And napkins can go in the green bin, so it's not the landfill I'm protecting but the resources required to make those napkins.

I wash cloth. We reuse cloth. It's what we do.

And the argument that I am wasting resources to wash these bad boys doesn't hold with me. Regardless of whether we have two cloths or twenty in the load of whites, I'd still be washing a load of whites on hot with my front loading energy efficient dryer. And twenty cloths barely have an impact on the size of the load—these guys just don't take up any room... uh, unless you're talking about the laundry line (they have been known to stretch a good half of one of our triple-lines... so about 15 feet of line, heh).

I even have designated cloths for removing nail polish, which get more colourful with each use (heh), and once laundered returns to the cupboard with the nail polish. Bonus: the nap of the cloth is a great texture to help scrub off old polish.

Anyhow. Lack-of-napkins. It's a quirk, I can't help it.

So. Any non-environmentally sound practices kicking around lately that put a bug in your bonnet? Or is it just me?

* If you believe in that mythical beast. I'm not saying it doesn't exist, but I am saying that some people use any convenient excuse to keep from being accountable. Meh.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Rainy Day Cookies

[Note: This post what originally published on The Mrs on November 19, 2011. Yes, we still eat these cookies. Pro Tip: if you freeze them, they last longer, because kids have difficulty opening the heavy freezer drawer...]

Some days it pays to look at the world through your kids’ eyes.

This particular, craptacular day, I picked up my kids from school. It was dreary and cold, and as soon as the bell rang, the skies opened up and rained all over us in that way that sinks into your core, cold settling in your spine.


Once we were home, the boys raided the cookie jar (with permission). It was empty.

This is where I was surprised by my almost-six-year old, when he said confidently, “That’s okay. Can you bake us some, please, Mom?”

Pardon, cowboy?

Bake them?

This is not to say that I am not a baker. I bake. Not too often, but me in my apron is not an unknown sight to my children.

What I realized, at this moment, was that my kids considered me to be the kind of mom who was perfectly capable of producing cookies on demand to brighten a rainy day.


What I realized, immediately thereafter, was that barring having the proper ingredients on hand, there was no reason why I couldn’t produce the requested cookies.

I dug through the pantry. Lo and behold, I had the needed items. Only enough shortening to do a half batch, but that would certainly satisfy my rugrats.

Not long after, I had this —

In part because of this —

Pay no attention to what’s behind that bag of chocolate bigger than my child’s head. It might be an antique radio. It might have a tape deck. Maybe. Maybe dual tape decks, because we’re just that cool and up-to-date on techno-gear! You’re jealous, I can tell. And not just of the giant bag of chocolate chips, I know. (Wink.)

Anyhow. Also to blame for those cookies is this, the holy grail of cookbooks —

And more specifically, this recipe for chocolate chip cookies. (To which we’ve deleted chopped nuts and added raisins and dried cranberries — yum!)

2/3 cup shortening
2/3 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar (packed)
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla (I always add a touch more)
3 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (at least — but it’s your boat you’re floating!)
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup dried cranberries

Heat oven to 375F. Mix thoroughly shortening, butter, sugars, eggs, and vanilla (this cookbook apparently doesn’t believe in the Oxford Comma. We NEED the Oxford Comma. Hmff. Hereby abandoning “official” write up out of disgust.).

Toss in other ingredients and mix until your arm’s sore. Or it’s a sticky cookie-dough mess. Your call.

Use a teaspoon to dish cookie-sized lumps onto your ungreased baking sheet. Sometimes I line mine with parchment paper, which, despite Mr Lannis’ insistence, will not spontaneously ignite into flame in the oven unless it touches the element. Trust. (I’ve had plenty of parchment paper in the oven and nothing’s ever happened, except for that one time, hence I know about the element...)

Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until edges are light brown. They need a few seconds to set before you move them, and they taste much better when cooled — that’s not just burnt mouth talking.

According to the book, this recipe makes about seven dozen cookies, but apparently a hell of a lot fewer than that if you like big cookies or are prone to eating raw cookie dough. (Just assuming, here.)

Quick to make, quick to bake, and quick to eat, too, unless they’re also magical vanishing cookies...

Hm. Maybe it’ll rain today, too.