Tag Archives: The Artist


The Artist is an aspiring chef, so he’s a big fan of helping out in the kitchen and also of watching the Food Network.  And actually, one Sunday morning a couple of years ago I came downstairs to make coffee and he was in the playroom watching The Barefoot Contessa.  And in the living room, The Musician was watching The History Channel special on WWII.  It’s like my children are, respectively, a middle-aged woman and an old history buff dude.  Which is awesome.

Anyway, I have come down with a cold but I’d promised The Artist we’d cook together this evening.  So we did.  And here is what we made:  Two Cheese and Corn Baked Risotto.  Because when you’re feeling like shit, isn’t it better to create something insanely complex, rather than you know, open a box of Kraft Dinner?  Or order a pizza?  Yeah, I didn’t think so.  But the boy enjoyed himself, and he is pretty much the most adorbale chef ever, so I sucked it up. 

I really hope it’s tasty.  And that I can taste it if it is.

What your reading material says about you. Or, why you may not want to sit beside me on the bus.

I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I’ve been doing a lot of reading.  Nothing earth-shattering, I know.  And as I said the other day, it’s not exactly a hobby, it’s just something I do.  For a very long time, I didn’t read much at all.  This might come as a shock to those who know what I do for a living, because there is some fantasy about people who work in libraries that they read all day.  And while some librarians may do a lot of reading of books as part of their job (I am thinking mostly of librarians who do a lot of readers’ advisory, maybe childrens’ librarians too, although perhaps not at all and maybe I don’t know what I’m talking about and therefore perpetuating the myth, I don’t know…) I’ve never held a library job where that was a requirement.  Policies and procedures?  I read a lot of those.  Articles on different aspects of my job or jobs I wanted to do?  Yup.  Research into alternate ways to offer reference services, etc.?  Tons.  But not a lot of books.  And certainly not thte types of books that likely come to mind when one thinks of a librarian reading books at their desk.  (because you should know that when you tell people you work in a library, they sometimes get that misty, faraway look in their eyes imagining how great it would be to, you know, sit at a desk and read the Twilight series all day every day, because that is what a lot of people think librarians do.)

Anyway, when I was young, I read all the time.  When The Genealogist and I tell our kids how much we read as children and how we would spend entire rainy days just reading, they don’t believe us.  Or, they might actually believe us, but they find it extremely sad that the only thing we could possibly do on a rainy day was to read.  No 24-hour kids’ television, we remind them.  No video and computer games, no instant messaging, no internet whatsoever.  No phone, no lights, no motor car, not a single luxury…. *ahem*

Anyway, The Artist and The Musician, they are readers, they like books, they always have.  They probably wouldn’t spend an entire day reading, not when there are so many other distractions in their world, but they do enjoy it.  And they have very different tastes.  The Artist.  For the most part, he is way into comic books, kids’ magazines like Owl and Chickadee and fantasy stories with knights and dragons, robots and aliens, things like that.  He likes stuff about nature, but it’s the fantasy stuff that he really seems to love.  The Musician, well he’s more of a realist.  It’s the books with real people telling their stories that excite him.  He enjoys the Dear Canada series, and the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, (both fictitious, of course, but with a certain amount of  “hey, someone wrote this”) and books about his favourite musicians and rockstars.  His favourites when he was little and just learning to read were books about trucks, planes and ships.  It’s amazing to watch the two of them in a library or bookstore, and see where they go.  It’s not unusual, of course, they are very different people, but if reading tastes are indicative of personality, then those two are spot on.  The Artist is the dreamer, imagining the possibilities.  The Musician is the guy who wants the facts and the proof.

It will be interesting to see if their tastes shift or merge or change completely as they get older.  I know mine certainly did.  I was a total fiction lover from a very early age, I didn’t have much use for anything that wasn’t a mystery or an adventure or a thriller.  Non-fiction stuff was for school, and maybe it just seemed like too much work.  Of course, as school went on, more and more non-fiction stuff was added to my repertoire, and by the time I hit university, I was reading so much school stuff that I didn’t have time for anything else, really.  And then after uni, it was difficult to pick up a book and not analyze the shit out of it, so for the most part, I chose not to.  Instead, I devoted myself to ridiculous amounts of TV, because that was something I just didn’t seem to have time for previously and it kind of rocked not to have to write essays and do presentations and just, you know, research everything.

Eventually though?  I needed to read again.  I needed the analysis, and the process, and I needed to think and so I started reading.  But what to read?  A lot of fiction left me bored and uninterested.  But did I want to get back into reading history?  I tried on a lot of different genres and wore a lot of different reader hats initially, and when people asked me “Read any good books lately?” I could honestly say that I had, but most of the time when I told them what I was reading, they had no clue what I was talking about.

See, the thing is,  I read weird books.  I do.  I don’t really subscribe to any “type” of reading material.  If it sounds interesting, I’ll read it.  I don’t pay attention to Oprah and her book club ideas.  I don’t belong to a book club.  I don’t watch the talk shows to  see the latest author tours  or go out and devour everything on the Canada Reads list (Especially not this year.  Seriously, what was up with that list?).  I get a lot of my reading ideas from blogs like Largehearted Boy and Bookslut (linkage to the right, yo) and I sometimes get ideas from radio programs like The Sunday Edition (hosted by my supersmart imaginary boyfriend Michael Enright) or Eleanor Wachtel’s excellent Writers & Company.  In short, I rarely read books that other people I know are reading, which leaves me out of many a girls’ weekend conversation.  “No, I haven’t read Eat, pray, love. I’m sorry, I can’t comment.  But!  Have you read Breathers: a Zombie’s Lament? No?  Oh.  What about Metropole or The End of Mr. Y?  Oh.  Okay.  Hey, your glass is empty, let me get you some more wine…”  See?  Fantastic books, all of them.  But no one knows about them.

And I’m not trying to be all snobby-snobbity about my reading choices.  People read lots of different things, and there is no one type of book or genre that is better than another, it’s what captures your interest that is important.  And I know there are loads of people out there who have read these books I just mentioned (Goodreads tells me so), it’s just that among the people I interact with daily – friends and work colleagues, etc. I am a bit of a literary outcast. 

Which brings me to the book I am currently reading, the excellent Cranioklepty: Grave Robbing and the Search for Genius by Colin Dickey.  I am loving this book, and have read close to 200 pages in 2 days, that’s how fascinating it is.  I mostly read it waiting for, and riding on the bus to and from work every day.  Which probably explains why I usually have a seat to myself, and most people at the bus stop give me a pretty wide berth.  But anyway.  Again, it’s a book I heard about on the radio – specifically The Current.  The host was interviewing the author, and it sounded intriguing to me, so I reserved the book at the library.  Had I missed the radio program, I doubt I’d have ever heard about this book.  And I think that’s what’s exciting about these sorts of serendipitous findings.  I mean, sometimes I hear about a book that I think I’d like and it turns out I don’t.  But a lot of what I’ve been reading just comes from a passing mention on a blog, or a snippet of an interview with an author, and I think that is really an amazing way to get book recommendations.  There is so much out there, and if you just limit yourself to one type of book, one genre or select your reading material based on one booklist or one person’s ideas of what’s good to read, you just miss out.

And so, what’s next on my “to-read” list?  Well, I have two in the queue: The Poisoner’s Handbook by Deborah Blum and Wicked Plants: a Book of Botanical Atrocities by Amy Stewart

These ones?  Just might get me banned from public transit entirely.

‘Tis the season to be…shaming?

I was at The Artist’s school Holiday Concert this morning before hauling ass up to work.  Yes, I have become one of *those* parents.  The ones who leave as soon as their kid’s bit is done.  I admit it.  I used to scoff at those parents back, you know, when I had a part-time job allowing me to be flexible, or when I was unemployed and therefore able to be just about anywhere at any given time.  “Wow, how hard is it to wait another 20 minutes until the whole show is over?” I used to think in my mildly superior way.  Well, yeah, actually?  It can be very hard.  Especially when you need to catch a bus to catch another bus and there is no one to hold down the fort for you.  So that was me, ducking out as soon as the last notes were sung.  Which in my case, wasn’t too bad, since it never fails that my kids are always among the last classes to perform.  C’est la vie, I guess.  Anyway, The Artist, by virtue of his height, was in the back row, so it made it hard to get good photos of him.  He did a nice little sway to the music, which was awesome, and he saw me and his Nana sitting in the 5th row, so he knew we were there beaming up at him. 

But all of this was after what I think is probably the worst bastardization of a holiday song I’ve ever heard.  Now, I have no idea if this is a for reals song, or if this is something the teacher of this other class made up but, however it came to be, it was appalling.  It was all about Santa crashing through the roof of some kid’s bedroom – good so far, huh?  But it gets better!  Sung to the tune of  “Jingle Bells”, this was the chorus:

Santa Claus, Santa Claus, you are much too fat!

I was sleeping peacefully and now my bed is flat!

Santa Claus, Santa Claus, how much do you weight?

I’m glad I’m not a reindeer, who has to pull your sleigh!

WTF?  Since when has Santa started to be subjected to the Jenny Craiging of our culture?  There was more, too, about him shouting “I want a piece of cake!” and then when the sleigh took off again, it was flying really low, and wobbled, etc., cos you know, there’s a fat guy in it!  I just sat there with my jaw on the sticky floor and was astounded by the HIGH-sterical laughter around me.  Wha’?  Now, of course Santa has always been “chubby and round, a right jolly old elf”, and ok, we get that.  It’s descriptive, and kind of poetic.  But this?  Calling him out?  Calling him fat?  Asking how much he weighs?  This?  This is fat shaming.  And, not only is it fat shaming, but it is fat shaming  of the guy who is bringing you presents you ungrateful mothereffing brat.  I was appalled.  And I really hope I wasn’t the only one, but judging from the wild applause, I may have been.  Dude.  I mean really.  Why?  Why is this a thing?  It made me a little sad to hear all these sweet kids singing this finger-pointing song with big smiles on their faces.  How many of them might go and sing it to another kid, using the kid’s name in place of Santa Claus.  It’s a playground taunt just waiting to happen, I swear it is.  And not only that, this song makes it okay to call people fat.  “haha Santa is fat!  And you know who else is fat?  You!”  And the “oh it’s just a silly song” defense does not fly with me.  Words matter.  They mean things.  And this is reinforcing that fat = goofy + clumsy + too-much-cake-eating.  Fat is a joke, right?

This school prides itself on being inclusive.  Not only were there Christmas songs, but we had Chanukah represented and if I’d been able to stick around, I know someone would have worked up something about Kwanzaa and possibly festivals from other cultures/religions.  The school has a zero-tolerance policy for bullying and violence, and each month a virtue is highlighted, so the focus might be on “patience” or “helpfulness” or other positive traits.  December’s virtue, in case you were wondering?  Is “respect”. 

Just not for the fat people.  Joy to the fucking world.

By way of introduction

While this whole blogging thing doesn’t feel new, I guess I actually am new here, so I thought I would introduce you to the cast of characters who surround me on a daily basis, etc, etc. 

But before I go there, can I please just say that it is COLD this morning in my part of the world.  COLD.  We barely had a summer here, and now it’s only the 11th of September and it’s cold.  Wearing a sweater in the office, thinking about busting out the tights cold.  Single digits when I woke up this morning cold.  I truly dislike being cold, and I had high hopes for a hot September to make up for a wet July and a sucky August.  But this?  DO NOT WANT.

Okay now, back to me.  Stop me if you’ve heard this before, I will do my best to make it brief and painless:

I live with three men.  The Musician is 11, The Artist is 9 and The Genealogist is around the same age as me, and he is the one I am married to.  The other two I gave birth to.  We have a nice old house in a nice old area of our city.  The boys can walk to their respective schools, I can take the bus to my place of work, and The Genealogist has about a 20 minute commute to his employment.  I don’t know if that is important or not, but there it is.  We own exactly one car and we need a new furnace.  The Musician has just been fixed up with braces, thus beginning the decade that will beoome known as The Poverty Years.  Okay, not really.  We are comfortable and fortunate and insured and alla that.  It’s just that by the end of all of this, his mouth will be worth close to double what I paid for my first car.  So yeah.

The nicknames?  Oh.  Well just to be clear, it’s not that I’m all afraid of the internets finding me and my family all ooga-booga scary like. With what I’ve given you so far, you could probably very easily find me should you want to (and if you’re not creepy, you totally should look me up!)  It’s more that I just have recently started referring to the boys as The Musician and The Artist in actual conversation with friends and colleagues, so I thought I’d continue that here.  The Genealogist?  Well I just came up with that now.  And it’s my blog so I’m keeping it, although I reserve the right to shorten it if spelling Genealogist should ever become annoying. 

So there you have it.  It’s nice to meet you.  I’d shake your hand but my fingers are frozen solid.  Did I mention it’s cold?