Tag Archives: The Musician

You can always go…if you’re allowed to, that is…downtown!

Sometimes it’s a tiny, little bit of an idea that gives birth to a big one, and gives me something to write about.  That happened this morning on the newly relocated In the Neighbourhood radio show on CFMU 93.3.  There was some talk about what cities hold for their younger citizens, what’s out there, how are these kids connecting with their city. The guest told the story of a friend’s 14-year old daughter who went to her first all ages show at a club downtown – This Ain’t Hollywood, I believe – and how her mother was nervous having her head downtown and be there on her own, with friends.  It all turned out well of course, she had a great time, nothing bad happened, happy ending, etc etc.  All good stuff.  And this got me thinking about The Musician and his friends, who are the same age.  He’s in a band, so of course has had a lot more exposure to bars and clubs than most kids his age – even the ones who do head to shows – but the one thing that has always irked him (yes, I said irked because that is the word he used – seriously) is that a lot of his friends have never seen his band perform, because they aren’t allowed to go downtown, or they’re not allowed to go downtown after dark. 

 When he first told me this, my eyes rolled so hard they practically popped out of my head, which is probably not the most mature reaction, I’ll give you that.  But whatever.  Not allowed downtown, not allowed downtown after dark?  What is that, even?  Where do we live exactly, that this is such a problem?  And more importantly, who are these parents that are stopping their kids from experiencing the core of their city, where did THEY come from?  Then I think of the HWDSB and how it’s feeling the need to escape from the core, how THEY seem to be in a big fat hurry to get out of there and…oh…snap!  (wait now, that’s a whole other blog post, folks)

When I was The Musician’s age (it almost always comes back to this, just so you know – it’s part of what having a teenager in the house does to you) I was all over downtown all the time.  It’s all there was in Hamilton in the early 80s.  Lime Ridge Mall existed, but from where I lived (north of Barton St.) that was a big ol’ bus ride – with a transfer and everything.  Downtown was just much more accessible.  And it offered better stuff, to be honest.  Music, for example.  Cheapies, Rave Records, Sam the Record Man – all in the core.  Rock ‘n’ Tees, Klassy T-Shirt for band shirts and accessories.  Movie theatres galore – Tivoli, Century, Odeon, Hyland; Kresge, Woolworth’s and Zellers (yes, there was a Zellers downtown people, I’m not making that up) for cheap makeup and jewellery, birthday presents for your friends.  Right House, Robinson’s and Eaton’s for everything else (mostly when you had to go shopping with your parents).  

I get that Hamilton’s core fell on some hard times, I get that for sure, I witnessed it firsthand.  There was a time that maybe it didn’t have much to offer the teenagers out for a fun time.  But to be afraid of it?  To “not allow” your kids to explore what it might have to offer?  That’s just bananas, come on now.  Especially now with the revitalization of downtown neighbourhoods like James North and the area of King St. from Wellington west to John.  There’s good stuff going on all over the place, good stuff that everyone can enjoy. 

On Sunday The Musician had a friend come over to hang for the day.  Her mom dropped her off around 11 and I asked them what they had planned.  “I think we’re gonna head downtown and wander around for a bit, maybe check out Cheapies, you know, just kind of hang”.  So they walked downtown and a few hours later took the bus back to our place with some candy and a copy of the Stray Cats “Built for Speed’ on vinyl, from Cheapies.  That could have been a page from my diary circa 1983, but it actually happened in the present day. 

I’m not saying that my kid is highly unusual, I’ll be there are kids all over the city doing the same kind of thing on a Sunday afternoon.  But what I really liked was their ability to get to where they were going and get back again without relying on us – there was no can you drive us there and pick us up, it was all them.  This isn’t always the case, of course, but it sure is a great independence builder to be able to do what you want on your own time and at your own speed.  I think for me, that was one of the biggest draws of the core when I was younger – I could get there easily whenever I wanted.  I mentioned before that getting to someplace like Lime Ridge Mall was a big pain because the bus ride took so long.  No one was going to drive me – my dad had better things to do on a Saturday afternoon, thank you very much.  And for something like that, it would never have even occurred to me to ask him for a lift.  Now, most kids are used to being driven everywhere and dropped off and picked up again at a certain time.  And that’s great for some things, but once you get to a certain age, isn’t it better to do it yourself?  Figure out where you’re going and with whom and make it happen?  Or maybe that’s just me. 

The last gig The Musician and his band played was their CD release party at This Ain’t Hollywood.  It was all ages, 16+ and I knew he had been talking it up to a lot of his friends, trying to get them out to support the band.  So while I sat at the back with the parents selling tshirts and CDs (yeah, that’s right – merch girl) I watched as the bar started to fill up and was SO excited to see quite a few kids – friends of my boy, and friends of the other guys – streaming in for the show.  At the end of the night, band members and their friends hung around outside, drinking Cokes and waiting for rides home.  For a lot of these kids, this was their first real show at a real bar and without their parents.  And, like the friend of the radio show guest, they all had a fantastic time, made some great memories, and nothing bad happened – downtown.  

I guess I’m basically just saying (in a mere 1100 words, cos I’m brief, yo) don’t tell your kids – or anyone for that matter – that they’re not allowed to go downtown.  It’s a hollow, vague threat, and gives the impression that it’s a bad scary place.  Which it isn’t.  Really overall, just don’t be afraid of your city, people.  Get to know it, explore it, find the different neighbourhoods and areas that make it special, and learn about them.  Learn about them with your kids, and that might make all the difference.  Let’s work towards creating the next generation of Hamiltonians who embrace all the areas of their city, who walk around and enjoy the differences, the people and the neighbourhoods.  Let’s try to raise the kind of people who don’t just pass through areas like the downtown core on their way to someplace else, someplace they’ve determined to be better…or safer.  I think we owe it to Hamilton – the past, present and future Hamilton – to try.

Best of-ing, 2010 style

There are only 3 days left in this year.  Three.  I for one am holding my breath, waiting for it to end.  I really just want to ensure that the remainder of this year does not fuck with me.  Seriously.  So it’s looking good, with just around 72 hours left.  And while 2010 was probably the shittiest year on record – for me, anyway – there were some highlights.  I read some excellent books, discovered some great new music and saw some killer live shows.  All which I will document for your end-of-the-year reading pleasure.

Books:  The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer – this one probably goes on record as my favourite book of the year.  I know I raved about it in an earlier post, so I won’t get into too much here, but I loved this book so much for its story and for its sheer beauty.  You should read it. 

Captivity by Deborah Noyes is another one I read this year that really stayed with me.  Those are the best books, are they not?  The ones that cause you to think about them days or even weeks after you finish. 

All the Living by C.E. Morgan.  This book was just over 200 pages, but that the author was able to convey so much beauty and pain and landscape in such a short work is really quite incredible.  Loved it.

Bloodroot by Amy Greene was stunning, and was yet another book that I had a hard time getting out of my mind once I’d read it.  Beautiful, lyrical and bright, and at the same time dark and horrifying, I don’t know that I’ve read anything quite like this before. 

The Poisoner’s Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York by Deborah Blum.  I really loved this book for the history, the interesting facts behind the development of forensics as a science and also for the crazy shit that went down in NYC during this time.  So awesome.

Music:  The Sadies, Darker Circles.  Fantastic album from one of the best and hardest working Canadian bands ever.

The Black Keys, Brothers.  Hell to the yeah.  I came to this album pretty late in the year, even though it was on my “to purchase” list for months.  But, better late than never, and it truly did not disappoint. 

The Revivalists, Vital Signs.  Here is a band that I got to hear via a Paste Magazine sampler CD, and once I ripped it to my iPod and found myself replaying the song “Not Turn Away” over and over and over, I bought the album.  Absolutely fantastic, and I would bet the farm that they are a damn fine live band too.  So in case you’re reading this, members of The Revivalists PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD COME TO CANADA!  *ahem*  No, really.  Love you guys.

Live Music :  With everything that went down this spring, I have to say that 2010 didn’t see the UIG attending as many live shows as usual.  However, the ones that I did see stand out in a pretty big way.

White Cowbell Oklahoma at Casbah in Hamilton was the first show I saw in 2010, and what a way to start the year.  Damn fine music and a killer show.  See my post from last January for full details.

Blue Rodeo at Massey Hall in Toronto marked the first time I’d ever seen this band at MH and it was fantastic.  We had front row seats and were the first two people dancing up at the stage when Jim invited everyone up.  Magic.

Illusion Avenue, assorted gigs in the Hammer.  You have likely not heard of these guys, and that’s ok.  They’re pretty new.  And young.  In fact their bass player?  Is my kid.  The Musician is in this band with 3 other local dudes – no one is older than 15.  And yet?  They fucking kill it every time.  They write their own songs and they do some wicked, well-chosen cover songs.  They are all extremely talented musicians and everyone who sees them has their mind blown by the sheer awesomeness.  I might be biased.  Or, I might just be really, really proud of my boy.  Either way, whatev.  They’re good.  Not just “good for their age”.  They are good-good.  And seeing them kick it in the clubs around town has been such a highlight for me in a year where nothing really good seemed to happen. 

TV:  We don’t tend to watch an awful lot of TV.  This isn’t some sort of smug testament to our intellect, mind you.  It’s mostly because we spend our weeknights at the dojo during primetime, and we don’t have one of those fancy schmancy PVR thangs.  Actually until recently our TV didn’t even have a remote, so see?  We’ll get there eventually.  Now, having said that, one of the shows we did rearrange our schedules to watch as it happened was Lost.  And god help me if I didn’t freaking love that show, and yes I cried when Jin and Sun died and yes I cried at the end and yes we talked about the ending for days and days afterwards, just trying to get our heads around it.  I miss that show, I really do. 

Dexter, Seasons 3 & 4 on DVD.  So here is another show that blows my mind every episode, and while we don’t get to see it unfold like everyone else, I’m counting these two seasons for 2010 because we just could not get enough of it.  Season 4 especially was fucking brilliant and the season finale just about killed me.  Seriously.  Can’t wait for Season 5, and I have heard that it’s on board for a 6th season too, which makes me really happy. 

So there you have it.  The UIG’s “best ofs” for 2010.  Oh, and 2010?  You can’t get out of my life fast enough.  It’s not me, it’s you.  Don’t let the door hit your ass on the way out, k?  And as for you, 2011.  I have really high hopes for you not fucking with me and my family.  Can we please agree on that from the start?  Cos I’d really appreciate that.

Metal head and the missed opportunity

Last week The Musician had an orthodontist appointment.  He has many, many orthodontist appointments, and he is always a rockstar before, during and after them.  I don’t know if there is a kid alive who is more into his braces and what they’re going to do for him than he is.  He has some serious jaw and alignment problems, so this whole process is going to take the better part of about 6 years….we’re just into year 2, I think.  So yeah, it’s a long haul.

Anyway this latest appointment was a doozy – they made some adjustments, put spacers between his molars, so now he can’t actually close his mouth all the way, and did a bunch of other stuff to him.  And, as I said before, rockstar.  He’s awesome.  Later though, his mouth and head started to hurt, and he couldn’t really eat anything that wasn’t the consistency of porridge.  Still he soldiered on.  The next morning, he just looked so sad.  He was tired, and his mouth hurt.  Tried to eat a soft egg and bread – no toast, too crunchy – and he sort of was able to get that down.  We gave him some Tylenol and he went to school with something just as soft in his lunch.  Poor kid.

Later that day I was talking to a friend who has a little guy who is almost 2.  She said he was getting his molars, so that was throwing off his routine with sleep and eating and all that.  And I started thinking about my boy – almost 13, but with similar symptoms, just a very different cause. 

And it makes sense that when I saw him come downstairs looking so sad and tired I just wanted to scoop him up and get his blanky and cuddle him on the couch.  Which is what I would have done when he was 2 and teething and feeling so yucky.  And I can still do that, of course.  He does like a good cuddle even now.  But there’s just less time for that, especially in the mornings when there are lunches to make, homework to finish, showers to be had, and all those school and work day morning things.

By the end of the day he was feeling much better – the Tylenol worked, he had started to get used to the spacers and the feeling of all the adjustments.  Dinner was no problem, he went to karate and hung out with this friends.

And I had missed my chance to cuddle a rockstar.  It’s a good lesson to have learned, though.  Time.  There never seems to be enough, but it’s important to use the time you’ve got wisely.  Because you just never know.

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.

Merry, Merry, why ya buggin’?*

I can’t help it.  It’s what I hear when someone says “Merry Merry” as in Christmas.  Which is 2 days away, are y’all aware?  Help me Run DMC!

But!  Before that, The Musician turns 12!  On the 24th!  Christmas freaking Eve, people.  Yes, for unto us a child was born, lo these many years ago, and I swear on a stack of whatever you got, I get really of tired of people who have to get all up in my business about this.  It is pretty much impossible to have the conversation of “when is your son’s birthday” and say “December 24th” and have them not offer some sort of comment, and to that end I have determined that there are two types of people in this world – those who comment positively on a Christmas Eve bday, and those who do the exact opposite like the a-holes they are.

Type #1: “What, you had a baby on Christmas Eve?  How could you do that to him?  The poor kid, he must feel SO ripped off!  You wait ’til he’s older when he understands what’s going on, he’s going to HATE you!  That really sucks, poor guy, I bet you just wrap up stuff for him and say it’s for his birthday AND Christmas, right?  So not fair, I bet he hates it.”

That right there is a whole lotta rage directed at me – and indirectly at The Genealogist, of course, who was also involved.  But really?  I no longer have any time for these people.  When I was pregnant and due dangerously close to this date, people gave me grief.  And then once he was born, people continued with the grief and I have over the past several years told this type of birthday joy-killer to suck it.  Actually, my typical response is to say “we think it’s a really special day to be born” and leave it at that, because Type #1 people are generally too stupid to get it.  And, if I actually ever sent Christmas cards?  They would be off the list so fast.

Type #2 is much nicer.  They will still feel the need to comment, but totally go in for the “Wow, that’s awesome, what an exciting time it must have been for you when he was born, and how special it must be to have a birthday at Christmas, etc.”  So much love for these people.  Mainly because these are genuinely nice and smart and lovely people to begin with, but I have also noticed that these lovely people NEVER mention the line about the gifts.  Never.  They don’t assume the kid gets “ripped off” in the gift department.  Why?  Because for Type #2 it’s not all about the stuff.  Which I love so, so much. 

In truth, it is a bit challenging having a December 24th birthday, but for the past 12 years, we have managed, and The Musician, partly because he’s just so damned awesome, really loves his birthday.  From the time he gets up in the morning until it gets dark, it is his birthday.  Only when the sun goes down do we get in the Christmas Eve zone, and that has worked well for us.  And, in some ways, it helps with the “day before Christmas” crazy that can happen with kids.  With the birthday to focus on for the majority of the day, the whole “Santa’s coming tonight” thing tends to take a back seat ever so slightly, leading to calmer times for all.

When I was pregnant, I remember thinking “oh please don’t let me have this baby on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, I don’t want to be in hospital over Christmas!”  And then, early in the morning of the 24th I went into labour and thought “Oh fuck”.  But then, about 10 hours later he was born, and he was so perfect and it didn’t matter what the date was, or that I missed out on Christmas dinner and Boxing Day festivities or anything else.  We had our very first baby, and that was way more important than any of those other events could ever be. 

So as you enjoy the Christmas holiday season, please raise a toast to all the babies born around Christmas time, and send happy thoughts their way, so that they can one day live in a world where jerks don’t ruin their birthdays for them by explaining to them how sucky it is to be born at this time of the year.

Peace, joy and love to all.  And a very happy 12th birthday to The Musician, the greatest 12-year old in the history of 12-year olds, who has done such great things already, and will continue to do great things.  Because you know that other guy whose birth we celebrate tomorrow?  He didn’t start doing much until he was at least twice that age.  I’m just saying.

*Totally aware it’s actually “Mary, Mary”.  Just trying to be funny and festive, yo.

Listy McListerer

Right now I am living the dream, people.  That’s right, it’s end-of-the-year list time!  Every magazine you pick up, every website, every blog every everything has got some sort of list going on right now.  It’s “best of” time and “top ten” time, and everything gets rated!  Movies, books, technological innovations, medical breakthroughs, you name it, it’s all listed there for you.  Not to mention dead celebrities.  But, um, that one isn’t quite the yippee-hooray list, is it?  You know how the papers put in a list of who died this year?  That’s a bit creepy, in a way.  But anyway, it’s list time and this year is even more exciting because it’s also the end of the decade.  So we also get the “best of” the decade!  Lists upon lists, I tell you!  And look!  Here’s another one:

The UIG’s Top Whatever of 2009 or maybe the whole damned decade, depending


I read up a storm in 2009, I truly did.  Mostly due to my commute, and learning that I can, in fact, read on a moving bus.  Which up until recently I could not.  So that has helped me devour many, many books this year.  Here are my highlights, in no particular order:

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead – Melinda mentioned this book in a post earlier this year, and I am really glad I picked it up.  It’s a YA book and a super interesting one, with, you know, character development, and style and an excellent plot!  Secret notes, talk of time travel and Madeleine L’Engle.  What could be better?

Metropole by Ferenc Karinthy – This was one of the most anxiety-inducing books I have ever read.  A man stranded in a strange country, completely unable to make himself understood through any language, gesture or…anything.  A city teeming with people, all in a rush, always moving.  It makes my heart race a bit just typing that.  Brilliantly done, and, since it was translated from the original Hungarian, an incredibly vivid and masterful translation.

The Outlander by Gil Adamson – A young woman on the run from the law in 1903 after killing her husband?  An adventure that sees her trying to survive in the mountains in winter?  Some crazy characters and close calls?  Yes, please.  All the elements for a great adventure novel and then some, and a very beautiful style of writing to boot.

Whispering Pines: The Northern Roots of American Music from Hank Snow to The Band by Jason Schneider – I really enjoyed this book.  It is a fantastic reference book that manages to read like a friendly, yet at times disturbing novel, and kept me continually uttering phrases like “holy crap, I had no idea!” and “damn, now that makes sense now that I know [insert musician’s name]  was an influence on [insert musician’s name]!” and “whoa, no wonder that’s how that happened” and on, and on.  So great. 

Breathers: A Zombie’s Lament by S.G. Browne – Zombies were big this year, weren’t they?  What with the Jane Austen books and all.  This one is just about a bunch of the undead coming to terms with their situation, and trying to be understood.  Hilarity ensues.  Most enjoyable, some very funny parts, and a bit of a commentary (I thought) on the situation of any group of outsiders who just aren’t made to feel welcome.

So I’m not the London Review of Books.  Moving on…


So since I don’t eat out very often, and when I do, it’s usually places I’ve been before, I thought I would create a list of damn fine eats I made my ownself this year.  Complete with cookbook references and everything!  Salivate,  my friends, for the following:

Vegan sausages  from Vegan Brunch   Oh, blogfriends.  I can’t even explain how amazing these were, you really need to give this a try.  Beyond easy (measure ingredients and throw into a bowl and then shape into sausage shapes), and just so, so tasty.  Even my meat-eating family agreed that these were some mighty fine sausages in both texture and taste. 

Three Sisters Burritos from Rebar: Modern Food Cookbook  This cookbook, which I received from my sister-in-law a couple of year ago as a  Christmas gift, has been my go-to cookbook all year.  I have already used more recipes from this than any other book ever!  This recipe blends corn, squash and beans (the three sisters) with spices and a really tasty red sauce.  I served this to my friends at the cottage and everyone raved.  Raved, I tell you!

Paneer.  Whole milk + vinegar = delicious tasty Indian cheese!  The recipe I used was from an issue of Edible Toronto and it was SO easy.  I used the paneer in a spinach curry (sag paneer) and wow, was it good. 

Blackberry Jam.  Okay, this is actually from the previous year, but if we hadn’t had such a craptastic summer, I would have been doing it again, so it totally counts.  We have massive blackberry bushes in our little backyard, and for years, we would just pick and eat them.  When the boys were little we’d send them “out for dessert” and they’d hit the blackberry crop, which was pretty funny.  Two summers ago it was holy bumper crop, Batman!  And there was just no way we could eat them all – we ate them on cereal, in yogurt, with cream, etc.  Just so many.  So I decided to make jam for the first time in my life.  And it turned out well.  Freezer jam, naturally.  The “real jam” thing kind of scares me.  So much sterilizing and worrying that I am going to poison people.  The jam was tasty and was a hit with friends who tried it.  We gave some jars as gifts, which were well received.  Oh, the pride.


Going out to hear live music is one of my absolute favourite things to do in the world.  I love the energy in the venue, the onstage banter, the way the band feels.  Just so much love.  Here are some highlights from the past couple of years:

Blue Rodeo in Bala.  Vivian and I went twice to The Kee to see Blue Rodeo – once in the fall of 2008, and then again this spring.  The fall show marked the first time either of us had been to see the band at this venue, and we were not disappointed.  Talk about energy and love in the room.  It’s obvious the band enjoys this place as much as the crowd, and they put on an amazing show both times.  The first time we stayed outside of town, but the last time we were there, we stayed at a hotel right near The Kee, and that was much better.  The entire hotel was full of people there to see the show, and the vibe was just right. 

The Skydiggers at The Studio at Hamilton Place  This show launched me straight back to the early 90s and the amount of nostalgia mixed with sheer awesome musicianship made this show a true highlight of 2009.  Andy’s voice still gives me shivers, and the range of emotions he and the band can express is magical.

Lee Harvey Osmond at Casbah  You want to talk energy and fire?  Tom Wilson is both those things, and when he hits the stage (especially in Hamilton, I think) you are not going anywhere.  His current band is made up of a whole lot of great musicians and this particular show generated a lot of heat and a lot of buzz.  Great night, great band in my favourite Hamilton club.

The Musician, Live on Locke St.  My son made his debut this spring at a gig as part of Art Alley on Locke St. in Hamilton.  He attended March Break Rockband Camp at Picks and Sticks, the music store where he takes lessons, and the kids jammed and wrote songs to be performed at a later date.  The song they performed was based on a bass line that The Musician wrote, and the singer did some lyrics, they added a drum line and that was that.  He looked SO natural up there, tuning up, adjusting the amp, laying down a few warm-up riffs.  They did the same thing again at the Locke St. Festival in September (which I missed due to a prior commitment – boo!) but it was his first onstage performance as a bass player that stands out for me.  First of many, no doubt.

So there you have it, blogfriends.  Books, food and music, three of my favourite things – in list form.  I’ve shown you my lists.  Maybe you could show me yours?

ETA Dec. 21:  Ugh – typing/spelling  fail on the link to Anything Said above – link fixed.  My apologies.  I suck.

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?