Monday, August 31, 2009

August Reading List

This month's collection is my usual mix of random fiction, with a memoir and a couple of beloved authors thrown in for good measure, and some reading to prep for our trip to New York. Another 7 books toward my Book Challenge Goal (now at 42, on my way to 100!).

Benny & Shrimp - Katarina Mazott (4 out of 5 hairy hobbit toes) This little novel was a fun and unique read. Translated from its original Swedish, it can be a bit challenging at times to sort out what is meant, but it was a touching read. Chronicling the love story of a determined bachelor farmer and a young widowed librarian, it is a commentary on how opposites really do attract. Benny is a no nonsense dairy farmer, trying to eke out a humble living in a world of large corporate farms. Shrimp is a beige librarian, still mourning the death of a husband she married for convenience, not for love. Humourous and heartbreaking, it was not what I was expecting when I first read the back of the book, but I'm glad I read it. There is an interesting twist at the end that is making me wish the follow-up book had been translated too!

Julie & Julia - Julie Powell (4 out of 5 hairy hobbit toes) I read this because I was planning on seeing the movie shortly after finishing it. I still haven't seen the movie, but I'm glad I read the book and am looking forward to her new book coming out in the fall. Since most everyone is fully aware of the concept behind the book I won't go into that. I will say though, she is one heck of a brave lady, cooking some of that stuff. Gelees, aspics, and other things that I think you really have to be French to appreciate. I have always thought that I was a pretty adventurous cook, but I don't anticipate spending time in Ms. Child's cookbooks.

Bride in the Bargain - Deeanne Gist (3.5 out of 5 hairy hobbit toes) This author is one of my favourite fluffy authors who write for the Christian fiction market. Her books don't preach and you learn something about regional history from her stories. While not a literary heavy-weight, her style is enjoyable and eminently readable. This story, about a girl who accepts a place on Asa Mercer's bride ship heading from Boston to Seattle just after the Civil War is surrounded in historical truth. Widowed and orphaned women purchased passage to the Washington territory with the promise that they would marry one of the many single men living in that lonely frontier. Anna, determined never to marry, agrees to go to be a cook for a lumber team. Joe is going to lose his claim on his land unless he finds a wife. Thus begins a comedy of errors, misunderstandings, and ultimately a sweet little romance. It was a quick read, done in an afternoon. Fun and light.

Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows - JK Rowling (6 out of 5 hairy hobbit toes) I love this book. This was, surprisingly, only my second time reading it. I read it in a day and a half when it first came out, and then I never went back to it. This time through I caught so many more details and intricate weavings of the plot. I bawled at the death of one of my favourite characters and again as Harry was walking into the Forbidden Forest at the end. I love the interweaving of the Hallows with the Horcruxes, and how ultimately love triumphs over evil. I will say, though, in my mind there is one detail that could have brought the story completely full circle. Imagine, at the end, in the epilogue... when Harry is putting his sons on the Hogwarts Express, he looks up and sees Dudley (looking extremely uncomfortable) walking down the platform with his own child in Hogwarts robes. Can you imagine Uncle Vernon's reaction to discovering that his own grandchild was a witch or wizard? Priceless! Like I said, that's how it ends in my mind.

Galore - David Crummley (4 out of 5 hairy hobbit toes) This is a new author for me, but I'm really glad that I came across his work. Not many people set novels in Newfoundland, and certainly hardly any of those would set it in the distant past, when the isolated island was still being settled. Irish, Welsh, and west country English all collide in this story that starts with the 'birth' of a mute albino from a beached whale. Wrapped up in medieval superstition, the life of this little community is full of characters and odd stories. A defrocked priest on the hunt for a way to exorcise the ghost of the husband of his mistress, a doctor who falls in love with one of his patients as he is pulling all her teeth out, a family curse passing from generation to generation, and an epic love story are all interwoven among tales of sunken fishing boats and feuding clans. Odd, entertaining, and thought-provoking... I am definitely going to read more from this author.

The White Queen - Philippa Gregory (4.5 out of 5 hairy hobbit toes) A new Philippa Gregory book! Need I say more? Ok, I will. I love her books and this one was great. The first in a new series, this book chronicles the life of Elizabeth, wife of Edward of York in the midst of the War of the Roses. I find it interesting how different authors portray historical figures differently. Gregory focusses on Elizabeth's relationships... her relationship with her husband as opposed to her relationship with her mother, and her relationship with her "Grey" sons (from her first marraige) and the sons she has with Edward. Gregory also deals with the mystery of the Princes of the Tower with a bit of a different angle than usual. I loved it, and am now anxious for the next in the series.

New York City Day by Day - Frommers I'm not going to rate this one until after our trip, because I want to see how helpful it really is. BUT... I will say that at this point I'm really excited about some of the options that it gives. Walking tours of different neighbourhoods, attractions that are close together and how long it should ideally take to go through the different museum, etc. It's also given me some ideas for things that I want to do if we have time.

Friday, August 28, 2009

More Details... Otherwise Known as 'Life in the Whirlwind'

Hello Humble Readers...

First and foremost... thank you so much for all your support and kind words. This has been a challenging few days for all of us. Your friendship means so much.

To give you all the full picture, I have to go back to almost a week ago. Mom C called to tell us that she and Dad were going up to Burns Lake to visit my Beloved's older sister and brother and their families. They were taking Uncle J an Aunt P with them (Uncle J is Mom's older brother), as they are both too elderly to drive themselves.

They had only been there for a couple of days. On Monday morning, at around 10:30, Dad had the stroke. Due to a comedy of errors, it took a while (meaning 2 or 3 minutes) to find a phone in the house that was charged and functioning, and then of course Burns Lake does not have 911 service.

It took 2 and a half hours to get Dad to Prince George, by which time it was too late for the doctors to administer the drugs that can assist in recovery from a stroke. While he was initially unresponsive for a brief time, he came around and was aware of his surroundings and who was with him. He was unable to speak and had no mobility on his right side, but he would squeeze Mom's hand from time to time. The doctors were initially hopeful that they would be able to get him stabilized and then send him closer to home for rehab.

Dad stayed alert through most of the night. Sometime after 5am on Tuesday, he closed his eyes, and he didn't wake up. It was at this point that the doctors gave the word to gather the family.

My Beloved got the call at 2:30, and he picked me up from work at 3:00. We had some back and forth about how we were going to get out there. My Beloved's other brothers and their wives flew out of Calgary. We flew out of Edmonton (and drove like demons to get there). Our plane went to Vancouver, at which point the other family members boarded, so we were all able to land in Prince George together.

We landed just after 8pm. Mom and my Beloved's older sister were at the airport to meet us. Dad had passed peacefully at 6:15. We missed him by an hour and forty-five minutes.

Dad loved Burns Lake, and often joked that he would move back there before he died. He would not have wanted to live reliant on someone for his every need. I think he would have been glad to go quickly.

After the initial blow, we went to the hospital, and said our goodbyes in the viewing room. We then made our way to the motel where we were all going to be staying and had a bit of a wake (as close to it as a bunch of non-irish folk can). We ate pizza, drank a few too many beers & coolers, and toasted the empty chair in the room.

The next morning, after breakfast, it was decided that the majority of the famiy would go back out to Burns Lake for a few days. My Beloved and I drove home with Uncle J and Aunt P and their son (who had come out to get them). The rest of the family is on the road home today. My Beloved's oldest brother is taking two weeks off to stay with Mom.

We are going to be having a memorial open house/come and go sort of thing at the Curling Club in Didsbury on the Saturday of the long weekend. My Beloved and I are going down on Monday (Mom and Dad's anniversary) to spend the day with the family, and will probably go down another time or two before next weekend.

One thing that I am struggling with... and it may seem odd... but, in my family I am the oldest. When there are events like this to be planned, I am usually the one planning and organizing. It's been how I tend to cope in situations like this. But my Beloved is the youngest... by a LOT (he was the oops baby) and the others have always done all the planning and just told him when and where to show up. I feel like I need to be doing something, but it's all been done already.

I'm sorry that I've been rambling. I just needed to get these things out. Thank you for 'listening'.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

In Memoriam - Dad C

R.L.C. - Dad C.
May 14th, 1936 - August 25th, 2009
He went peacefully, and likely felt very little pain. We missed him by a little over an hour. Mom C and my Beloved's sister were at the airport when we all arrived.
Some highlights from Dad's life:
  • married to his high school sweetheart for just shy of 52 years (their anniversary is on Monday)
  • father to four sons and one daughter, grandfather to 10 grandchildren (and two angel-grandbabies), great-grandfather to one great-grandson
  • as a young man he played semi-pro hockey for one season
  • he was inducted into the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame for all of his volunteer work (coaching, etc)
  • he loved curling, hockey, Canadian football, game shows, crossword puzzles, playing cards and he grew the best tomatoes I've ever eaten
  • he was king of the power nap, taking a nap after lunch and dinner every day

We will be celebrating his life on the Saturday of the long weekend, at the curling club where Dad worked for many years, making the ice. My Beloved and I came home yesterday. In total we were only gone 29 hours, but it feels like an eternity. Everyone else will be coming back tomorrow.

Thank you so much for all of your prayers and warm thoughts over the last few days. They mean so much!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Please Continue -

to pray and send good thoughts. We are currently waiting to hear if we are flying or driving to Prince George. If we are driving, it will take most of the night to get there.

Dad has been unresponsive all day, and the neurologist thinks that more damage has been done overnight.

I won't be posting for the next few days.

Stay well everyone!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Not the Greatest Day Ever

Good Evening Humble Readers...

Today has been chock full of crap, all the way around.

I woke up with that feeling you get just before you get a cold. You know that weird scratchy feeling in your throat, and all you want to do is sleep.

Then, while I was in the midst of my pity party (I am a huge wimp when I'm sick), half the cable went out. And it was the half that has channels that I usually watch.

Then, I got to work and discovered that tonight I was only going to have one experienced person working the sales floor and that I was going to be training two brand new staff member... brand spankin' new. They were scared of the customers, scared of the phone, and scared of the computers. (Ok, they weren't that bad, I was just running around like a chicken with my head cut off)

And then, my Beloved got a phone call that no one wants to get (and the kind that reveals my whining as the selfishness that it really is). My FIL had a stroke this morning. Mom and Dad C were in a small, rather remote town in northern British Columbia visiting my Beloved's brother and sister, and their families.

Dad C has had some heart trouble in the past (a double bypass two summers ago) so this is not entirely unexpected, but he had been doing so well lately.

What we have been told so far:
  • it happened around 10:30 this morning
  • he has no mobility on his right side and he is unable to speak
  • he's been moved from the small rural hospital to Prince George, a larger town 3 hours east of where they were
  • the doctors say that it was a major bleed, but only time will tell
  • he's not agitated and is alert
  • he recognizes family members and smiles whenever they come in the room.
  • according to my Beloved's sister, 'it's not life or death'

So, as of right now, we are staying put. They are hoping that in a few days or a week he will be able to be transferred to Calgary. (altho they also mentioned Vancouver, which is no help to any of the family out here as that puts him even further away, but whatever they determine is best I guess)

We are worried, scared, and torn.

Please pray, send good vibes, whatever...

Saturday, August 22, 2009

What Comes Around, Goes Around...

Good evening Humble Readers...

A very crafty friend of mine posted this on her blog, and I just couldn't resist. The first five people to respond to this post will get something made by me, especially for you. Just keep in mind that I am not 'a very crafty' person, but I will make it worth your while.

This offer does have some restrictions and limitations:

1- I make no guarantees that you will like what I make but I hope you will.

2- What I create will be just for you.

3-They say I have a year to get it to you. But I promise it will NOT take that long.

4- You have no clue what it's going to be. It’s a surprise to both of us at this point.The catch? You must re-post this on your blog and offer the same to the first 5 people who do the same on your blog.

So the first five people who post, and are willing to pass it along,will get a handmade gift in the mail from me.

When you get it, make sure you post a pic on your blog! Let's have some fun!

Friday, August 21, 2009

August ICLW - Things I Can't Stand

Greetings Humble Readers...

ICLW time again! For those of you who are unfamiliar with ICLW, please click on the yellow link to the left. The Fabulous Mel can explain it so much better than I.

I wanted to do something a little different this month to introduce you to me and my corner of the blogosphere. I think you can learn a lot about a person by knowing what bugs them (I don't mean things like 'people who kick puppies' or 'bad drivers'... everyone gets annoyed at those things), so this month, here are some unique things I just can't stand...
  • when anyone shortens my first name to a single sylable
  • the way folic acid starts to disintigrate as soon as it hits my tongue
  • the word 'moist'
  • baby corn (really, who grows this stuff?)
  • the sound of someone chewing
  • people who eat while talking on the phone
  • the judges on reality tv contest shows
  • people who clap too close to microphones
  • late night "phone-dating" commercials (as if the women who utilize that service really look like the girls in the commercials)
  • bacon
  • movies that are filmed documentary style (think Blair Witch or any of the Bourne movies... I end up with motion sickness)
  • when a customer comes up to me, whilst I am wearing my oh-so-fashionable work vest, with my crazy big key ring hanging from my neck and my name tag, and asks me if I work there (usually happens when I have an armload of books that I'm about to drop)
  • puffed wheat
  • Mac and cheese
  • when commercials are louder than the show you're watching
  • that fake citrus smell that you get in some soaps
  • the fact that no matter how hard I try, I can't get my windows clean (they are always streaky)
  • my toes
  • and oh yeah... infertility!

So tell me, what rather odd things bug you?

BTW, if you want to know about our ttc journey, check out the column on the right!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Show & Tell: Kitchen Adventures... Ham & Scalloped Potato Casserole

Good Evening Humble Readers...

It's Show & Tell time, and I was in the mood to cook today, you are getting food po.rn! I know it's August, summertime, and actually starting to warm up here again, but I was seriously in the mood for some comfort food.

Ham & Scalloped Potato Casserole
  • 5-6 potatoes, peeled & cubed
  • 3 cups cubed ham
  • 1 med onion diced
  • 1 can kernel corn, drained
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 3-4 tbsp flour
  • 2-2 1/2 cups milk
  • 2 tsp dry mustard
  • fresh ground pepper
  • fresh parsley
  • shredded cheddar cheese

Boil potatoes until almost done (they should still be firm and not break easily with a fork), drain. Combine potatoes, ham, and corn in a deep, greased casserole dish. Melt butter in a skillet, and saute onions for two minutes or until tender. Add flour to skillet and stir until all the butter is absorbed. Slowly add milk to skillet, stirring constantly to make a roux. When roux is thick and smooth, add pepper to taste and dry mustard. Pour over potato and ham mix, and stir to coat thoroughly. Cover and bake for 25 minutes in a 350 F oven. Remove cover, add cheese and return to oven for 5 minutes or until cheese bubbles. Top with chopped fresh parsley and serve.

This recipe makes a ton of food! And, if you omit the cheese and thin it with some more milk and some chicken stock, it makes a great potato corn chowder! This is one of the few recipes I haven't had to ask my Beloved if he liked it enough to have it again.

Alright, so that's all from me tonight. Don't forget to swing by Mel's place to see what the rest of the class is showing today. And while you're there, check out ICLW and Blogger Bingo... two great ways to get to know others in the ALI (adoption, loss, & infertility) community and bring others to your blog!

Hobbit-ish Potpurri: Roadtrip Rant

Good Morning Humble Readers...

First up, I want to say thank you for all the support yesterday. It means a great deal to know that there are others out there who understand that these days are challenging, but need to be commemorated. Thank you for all your kind words, prayers, and virtual hugs. They really helped me get through the day.
Yesterday's gong show of epic proportions actually started on Monday night, when I got home from work to find Lake Linoleum in my kitchen. After pulling everything out from under the sink we discovered that the cold water line to the sink was leaking pretty badly. Of course everything under the sink was wet and nasty... cardboard boxes that the garbage bags come in disintigrating as we tried to move them. The plumber is here now, and I'm sure I won't get out of this one for less than $150.
Sleep was in short supply on Monday night, so needless to say I was fairly grumpy yesterday morning. When my Beloved knocked the towel rack off the wall in the bathroom, AGAIN I was more than a little perturbed. I love the man, but he certainly isn't a handy man, so before I took my shower I had to deal with the pain in the butt (the towel rack, not my Beloved).
Due to some poor planning and lack of attention to detail on my part, I had to make a spur of the moment mad dash to Calgary to go to the Passport office. Driving almost two hours just to deal with downtown Calgary traffic, a half hour trying to find parking, to spend a whopping ten minutes in the office going over my application. That's beyond irritating. My passport will be here in two weeks, thank the Lord.
I knew vaguely where the passport office was, as I had been there once before 8 or 9 years ago. I typed "passport canada" into our GPS, expecting to get the address and directions. The silly thing came up with the passport office in Edmonton, and then the one in Regina (that's in Saskatchewan). Nothing for Calgary. Piece of crap gadget. Thank heaven for smart phones.
There is a new shopping mall on the north side of Calgary. I thought, after my frustration at the passport office I would treat myself to a little retail therapy. I'm still looking for the perfect purse for our trip, and I wanted to see the new store from my store's chain that is an anchor for the new mall. I finally get out of the downtown core, almost out of the city, find the correct turn off, and make my way toward the mall... only to get into the parking lot and see signs that it opens to the public today. I was one day too early! Grrr
The rest of the trip home was a challenge. I was in a foul mood, and I thought that some loud music would help. I was bouncing back and forth between a couple of country stations and a top 40 station. While on one of the country stations I heard a song that put me over the edge. I don't know the title, and I didn't recognize the artist, but there was a line about how the singer was so thankful for the son his wife had given him. I started bawling and it didn't stop for more than an hour. I'm just thankful that highway 2 is pretty much a straight shot from Calgary to Red Deer.
One other thing from yesterday that would have been just a minor irritation on any other day... I wanted to listen to a book on cd while I on the road. I grabbed the right cd before I left the house, but when I put it in the car stereo it wouldn't play. I was so pissed that I almost chucked the cd out the window.

Really, it's almost laughable now. Almost. Today is another day, and once the plumber leaves I will be able to maybe do something with my day. I will be back later with my Show & Tell post...

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

In Memoriam - Olivia Noelle

Today was my EDD for our second angel baby, Olivia Noelle.

Is it wrong that I haven't thought as much about my second loss as much as my first?

Maybe it's self preservation. Maybe my heart and mind remember the grief of losing Emily so much that when we lost Olivia I automatically went into a numb mode.

Whatever the cause, the approach to today has been different than the days leading up to Emily's EDD. Instead of the panic and intense sadness, there is a vague feeling of emptiness. I have had both a conscious and unconscious awareness that this date was approaching. (Like it's possible to ever erase the significance of these dates from our minds!) I've been dreaming about babies and IF related things more in the last two weeks than I have in months.

But the hurt is different too. It's the sad resignation that lightning does in fact strike twice, that being hurt once does not automatically preclude you from being hurt again. It is the fear, even though the doctors say it was just bad luck and that we still have a good chance of getting and staying pregnant, the fear that we are doomed to repeat this cycle of hope, joy, and despair over and over again.

You know, it's funny, with Emily I spent a great deal of time wondering what she would have looked like. With Olivia, I don't wonder that. I have a very clear image of her in my mind. It's of her as a toddler, with dark dark hair with a bit of a curl, blue eyes, and pink cheeks.

I only wish... well, to quote one of my favourite musicals... I wish a lot of things.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Calling All New Yorkers (or Anyone Who's Been There)!

Ok, Humble Readers... it's time to get our butts in gear! We have only 33 days until departure and I'm feeling very unprepared.

I'm even stressing about packing and it's a month away!

I have made list upon list, and I need some help. We have so many things on our to do list while we are in NYC, I don't know how to begin planning and prioritizing. Can you tell that I haven't been on a real vacation in forever? (and when I say forever, I mean forever!!!!)

We have been compiling a list of places we want to see, things we want to experience while we are there. There are some things that are tops on our list, but then there are other things that I am just not sure about... Are they really worth doing? Is there something else we should consider instead? I am looking for serious input here!

So, here's our current list. I want opinions and information!
  • Hot dog from a hot dog vendor
  • Baseball game (Yankees vs Red Sox... tickets purchased)
  • Broadway show (Wicked... tickets to be purchased soon)
  • Top of the rock
  • Ellis Island/Liberty island
  • Harbour tour
  • Frozen Hot chocolate at Serendipity
  • Bobby Flay restaurant (Mesa Grill)
  • Mario Batali restaurant (Otto)
  • Tavern on the Green
  • Carriage ride through central park
  • Bagel and lox at a deli
  • Cab ride
  • Tiffanys (window shopping)
  • Macys (window shopping)
  • FAO Schwartz (window shopping)
  • Chelsea market
  • Ground zero
  • NY library
  • Tv/movie tour
  • Rachel Ray? (applied for tickets but haven't heard)
  • David Letterman? (applied for tickets but haven't heard)
  • Brooklyn bridge
  • Central park/strawberry fields
  • The Dakota
  • Time Square
  • 'Seinfeld' diner (a very specific request from my Beloved)
  • The Cloisters/The Met
  • MOMA
  • Central Park Zoo
  • The Guggenheim
  • Battery Park
  • American Natural History Museum

I know that there are a lot of food related things on the list... I'm a foodie, what do you expect?? We have 10 days actually in the city. (unfortunately our last day is basically a waste because our flight leaves at 5pm and it doesn't leave us much time to do anything before we have to head to the airport... international flight and all). Our first full day is my birthday, so my Beloved is planning everything, but other than that I'm kind of in charge of the itinerary.

What would you do? What would be number one on your list? Is there something we should skip? Something we should do instead?


Thursday, August 13, 2009

Show & Tell: The Violin

Good evening Humble Readers... It looks like I need a tardy slip, because I'm late for Show & Tell. For those of you who haven't heard, show & tell is wasted on elementary schoolers. Every week we can step to the front of the class and share something... be it silly or sublime. Check out Mel's place to see what the rest of the class is showing this week.
I've been rather sentimental this week. Thinking a lot about family in all its forms and how it shapes us. As I mentioned in my last post, my biological family isn't a big part of my life. But I cannot deny that they had a huge impact on my life.
One of the few things I have that ties me to them is a violin. A very old, very beautiful violin.

(the ugly black case)
For all my life, the violin has been carefully hidden away. As a child, I was never allowed to touch it. It resided under my Mom's bed, in an ugly black case usually covered in dust.

(look close and you can see Fredrick's handwriting... 1893)

I grew up hearing the stories of how my Grandfather's (not Grandpa from the previous post) great uncle Frederick made the violin in 1893. How Frederick played it in the Accrington (England) orchestra before the turn of the twentieth century. How my Mom was the first person in three generations to play it. There was a special family gathering when it was presented to her, and she played Rock of Ages. How my Grandfather was disappointed because to his tone-deaf ears, it sounded off key. How after one high school orchestra practice, my Mom's conductor asked her not to play it, except when she was given a solo because it sounded so much better than the school's instruments.

I remember when the violin was damaged. A babysitter looking after my sister and I (then 4 years old) got into my Dad's booze, and then started going through my parents' room. After rifling through my Mom's jewelry box, she pulled the violin out from under the bed, and proceded to crack the bridge and knocked out the sound post. It took eleven years for my Mom to find someone she trusted enough to repair it. The man who repaired it offered my Mom a large amount of money for it, but of course he was turned down.

Every time we moved, it would be either in the first load or the last. It traveled on my Mom's lap or on the front seat where she could keep it safe. This is a tradition that I have kept. Even on the long road from Lethbridge to Orlando and back again, it resided on the front seat beside me, and came into every motel room each night of the journey.

(with the original bow)

I am sorry to say, that the violin still resides under a bed... mine. I have long wanted to get it set up in a display box of some sort, where it would be safe from dust and humidity. I don't think it would ever get me a fortune on Antiques, but it's special nonetheless.

I have one more confession. I have never heard it played. Never. When I was born, the fall after my Mom graduated from high school, she put the violin away forever. The man who repaired it played a few notes on it, but I wasn't there to hear it. I hope that there is a point in the future, when someone (a child of mine, perhaps) will tune the strings and draw a bow across them.

I hope I'm there to hear it.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Music & Thoughts of Grandpa

Good evening Humble Readers... tonight's post is a little different, but I wanted to share it with you anyway.

I think I've indicated before that my family is more than a little odd. I've had biological parents, step parents, and foster parents. Now, when your number of parents increases, so does your number of grandparents, aunts, uncles, and especially cousins. There are many people in my family that I wouldn't recognize if I saw them on the street.

But many of my favourite preschool memories (yes, I can remember back to when I was 2) involve my Grandpa B. I remember 'helping' him build a set of concrete steps and him threatening to stick me in the middle of the cement and leave me there. I remember tramping with him through the Ontario bush tapping maple trees, and then going back and collecting the sap to make maple syrup. I remember playing in his office where he kept spare parts for the chainsaws he repaired (the adult in me freaks out at that!).

Mostly, I just remember feeling safe with him. With the chaos that was my family, having his calm gruffness was a blessing.

He's the one who is adamant we are Irish, even though I'm seventh generation Canadian through his part of the family. When he's had a couple beers he gets this incredible brogue that is a combination of Irish and eastern Canadian (with a minor hint of French Canadian thrown in for good measure). He is a fabulous storyteller, and can out BS anyone. He's funny, sweet, and blunt.
I'm not sure why he's been on my mind so much lately. Maybe it's because I've been on an eastern Canadian music kick recently. (Please make sure that you click over to this link... this song makes me think of Grandpa like no other. The Mull River Shuffle) Maybe it's because I'm thinking so much about our trip to New York coming up... daydreaming about fall colours and it brings him to mind.

Of all my biological family, he's the one I wish I lived closer to. He's the one I miss. And I think he's part of the reason why I want so much to be a mom. I want to share his stories with a new generation.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Confessions of a Bored Infertile

Good Evening Humble Readers... I hope this post makes sense, as I am very tired at the moment.

** Usual disclaimer ** If you are a reader who knows me irl, and have no interest in hearing about my 'plumbing', you might want to skip this post.

I'm feeling a little like Ross on Friends... I have to keep reminding myself that we are 'on a break'. I know that it is highly, HIGHLY unlikely that I'm going to need to even consider testing this cycle. Or next cycle. I mean we are using condoms after all... geez!

And yet, here we are... 12 dpo and I'm still fixated on the mild heartburn I had yesterday and of course the sore boobs. Ridiculous! I KNOW that AF is going to show up tomorrow. So, why can't I just let this obsession go?

In an attempt to distract myself from the "am I?" question running around my brain, I have spent some time pondering my ovulation charts. I've noticed something that I'm wondering about.

Throughout the winter and spring, each cycle I generally had 5-6 days of the good cm. In fact, there were a few cycles that I thought I was going to ovulate earlier than normal because I had early ewcm. The last few months I have had very scant cm... barely 4 days, and not in the amounts I have gotten accustomed to.

So, I'm wondering if this is a result of the testing I've had in recent months. The hysteroscopy, the HSG, etc. Or could it be because it's summer... it's hot, and I have not been as good about drinking my water as I should have? Because I was pregnant at this point last summer, I don't have any charts to compare.

Anyone have any thoughts?

Another thing that has been niggling in the back of my brain... my luteal phase. I know that it's not supposed to change all that much from cycle to cycle, but mine has continuously gotten longer. I have had 11, 12, 12.5, and now almost 13 day LP. I know that longer is better, and I think it might be a result of the vitamin B I've been taking for quite a while.

Again, I ask, any thoughts?

Ok... I think that's it for now. I'm falling asleep as I type.

Friday, August 7, 2009

The Hobbit vs The World: Two Big Annoyances

Good evening Humble Readers! Your friendly neighbourhood hobbit is irked tonight. Beyond irked actually... pretty pissed off!

Now you may be asking what can get under the skin of a relatively even-keeled hobbit? Well let me tell you...

First up... you may recall that I mentioned that a member of our leadership team at work gave notice a week ago. I was happy for her because she was leaving for a good reason, but I was concerned that someone in her position (in the management heirarchy, she was one level above me) would only give two weeks notice, especially when she gave notice the day before our general manager went on vacation.

So fast forward one week... how many shifts has she shown up for? One and a half. She called in 'sick' for two shifts, and then just stopped showing up. When one of the other managers called to see what was going on, after getting the voicemail run around, she finally owned up to the fact that seeing as our boss wasn't in, she wasn't going to come in either. She was just done. But, oh... 'it's nothing personal', and you know what? She 'still loves us all tons and tons'... Pardon me for saying so, but BULLSHIT!!! And really, the not personal bit? All I could think of was that line in 'You've Got Mail'... ''saying that it's not personal only means that it's not personal to you. It's very personal to me." The remaining three of us have had to juggle our schedules, rearrange our personal lives to cover for her lack of responsibility and respect. And let's not even get started about how she's not going to be able to use any of us as a reference...

Alright, so the other thing that is pissing me off today... read this story. It's ok, I'll wait.

Ok, done?

Are you as disgusted as I am? Yes, I have taken the source into consideration... Fam.ily is not known for being socially conscious. I know that it's an irreverent and purposely shocking show. I don't watch it for a reason. Infertility, surrogacy and abortion... anyone see anything joke-worthy in that list? And this is the show that was nominated for the Best Comedy Emmy? I applaud Fox for pulling the episode from the broadcast schedule, but it's still going to be out there... on the season 8 dvds. Gah!

Thank you, humble readers, for letting me vent. I needed to get those things off my chest.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Show & Tell: Our Little Houseguest

Good Evening Humble Readers! It's Show & Tell time again, and I have a fun one this week...

As I have mentioned previously, my Beloved and I are currently investigating what it would take to convince our condo board to let us have a dog. As I type this, my Beloved is at a condo board meeting, where he has promised he will bring the subject up if the opportunity arises.

So, in typical Mrs. Gamgee fashion, I have been researching, asking questions, and just generally becoming obsessed with pugs. I have read a couple of different books, visited numerous websites, and picked the brains of many in my life. I have gotten a lot of opinions and had many questions answered.

Finally, it came down to two questions. Would I have allergy problems if I were around a pug? (I have a pretty intense cat allergy, and my family always had low-shed dogs when I was growing up) And, how would a pug do in our environment? (we live in a condo, and I was concerned about noise issues and living space for the dog)

It turns out that one of my staff has a pug. I was picking her brain about a week ago, and she offered to let us have her dog for a day. What an opportunity! So, yesterday afternoon a beautiful boy named Sunny invaded our home and I loved every minute of it.

He snuffed and snorted and grunted his way around, investigating every nook and cranny. He rolled himself over my Beloved's pillow, sniffed at my laptop, and hoovered up a few crumbs from the kitchen floor. He loved staring out the window at the cars, and he made sure to mark every tree in our neighbourhood while we were out for a walk. He was hilarious while he ate, knocking food onto the floor, and then having to balance on his front paws with his ass-end up in the air so that he could get at the kibbles on the floor.

Yes, he sheds but I didn't have much of a reaction a all. Only some puffy eyes this morning when I woke up. Yes, he grunst and snorts... but it was cute. So adorable! The only time he barked was when an obnoxiously loud car went by.

Sunny's owners left us some information they got from the breeder that they bought him from, and it answered a few questions (about genetic illnesses, red flags to watch for, etc) and raised a few others (when to neuter and nail care).

I was sorry to see him go when they came to pick him up, but I am more certain now that a pug is definitely what I want. My Beloved really enjoyed him, too. Especially, watching Sunny dig through his little bag looking for his toys.

So, now I'm keeping my fingers crossed that all goes well at the meeting.

Now, don't forget to swing by Mel's place and check out what the rest of the class is showing!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

My First Giveaway!!!!

Good morning Humble Readers!

The other day I mentioned a new cookbook I purchased. A cook book that focuses on my favourite food group... chocolate! Well, when I flipped through it, I discovered that there was a little surprise in the back. For every one of the 48 mouth-watering recipes in the book there is a recipe card. A recipe card that I won't use, because I just don't use recipe cards.

Chocolate & Peanut Butter Fudge Cheesecake...

Chocolate Almond Macaroon Bars...

Rocky Road Brownies...

English Toffee Bars...

Strawberry Chocolate Chip Shortcake...

And 43 more. Tempted yet?

I am more than willing to share the recipe cards with you. All you need to do to get a shot at them is to tell me a story about the lengths you will go to get some good chocolate. Do you hide your favourite candy bar so that your spouse/family can't get them? Travel out of your way to a particular store that carries the special chocolate that you like? Do you have your own special stash of chocolate ice cream?

The winner will be announced on August 11th!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

July's Reading List

Ok... only two days late, here it is! July's reading list is just as varied as usual. Cavemen, British royals, Pugs, time travelers, polygamists, and the Stones. Like I said, varied. I'm up to 35 for the Book Challenge and I'm beginning to think that I was a tad over confident. One hundred books is going to be a real stretch.

Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict - Laurie Rigler (3 out of 5 hairy hobbit-toes) The sequel to the bestselling Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict, it was funny but just not as good as the first. The premise, that a woman from regency England has somehow miraculously traded places with a woman from present day Los Angeles, causes one to have to suspend disbelief in certain things. But the funny parts (imagine someone from the 1800s encountering our technology, our vehicles, our foundation garments!) made it a fun read.

Clan of the Cavebear - Jean Auel (4 out of 5 hairy hobbit-toes) I had read and re-read this series ages ago. But a while back I saw a documentary about how europeans may have come to north america as early as 17000 years ago, and it put me in mind of the series. The story of an abandoned little girl taken in by a clan of cave men, it is an interesting read. The rise of 'modern man' set against the decline of the cave man is intriguing and the storyline definitely pulls you along. My only frustration with the series as a whole is that it's not complete. I waited ten years for book 5, and it's now been 7 years since and I'm still waiting for book 6.

Stone Me: The Wit and Wisdom of Keith Richards - Mark Blake (5 out of 5 hairy hobbit-toes) Pardon the pun, but this book totally rocked! I will confess to not being a big fan of the Stones, but I have always been fascinated by their incredible popularity. This book is a collection of quotes from the always blunt, always irreverent, almost always high Keith Richards. His thoughts on Mick, on drugs, on faith, and even on his family... all hysterical.

The 19th Wife - David Ebershoff (4.5 out of 5 hairy hobbit-toes) All I can say is wow! A tremendously powerful story, based in historical fact. Two parallel stories, one present day, one set in the 1800s at the birth of the Mormon church, are entwined. Both stories deal with polygamy and the affect is has on the women and children involved... even on the men involved. One part murder mystery, two parts family drama. Historical figures become full-blooded characers, and they really make you ponder how they came to live these incredibly bizarre lives. Without going into my opinions on Mormon theology, I have to say this book was completely fascinating in that it provides a glimpse into what life might be like within the polygamst sects that stil exist. Well written and creative in style and format, I think that anyone who picks up this book will be hard pressed to put it down!

A Rose For the Crown - Anne Easter Smith (4 out of 5 hairy hobbit-toes) The first in a series (that I mistakenly read the second book in first) about the War of the Roses, in the 1400s. Told from the perspective of the mistress of Richard of Gloucester, who later became King Richard III. Traditionally believed to have been one of Britain's more notorious royals, it is assumed that he was responisble for the deaths of his nephews (known as the Boys in the Tower). This novel takes a different stance. He's portrayed as a man who is thrust into a position of power, who struggles to know who he can trust, and is ultimately decieved by those he relies on. It was a great read, and the author really did a great deal of research and made it really accessible. If you like British historical fiction, you've got to check this one out.

It's Not That I'm Bitter - Gina Barreca (3 out of 5 hairy hobbit-toes) This collection of humourous essays was a fun read, most of the time. All dealing with life as a woman in North America in the 21st century, most were funny to the point of making me laugh out loud in the lunch room. Some of my favourites had to do with swimsuit shopping and how women are hard wired to start their Christmas preparations in July... Pretty hillarious. As with all collections like this, there are a few duds, but over all, a fun read.

Barron's Dog Bible: Pugs - Dan Rice (4 out of 5 hairy hobbit-toes) I know that not everyone is going to be looking for a book about pugs, but I have to say that I strongly recommend this series to anyone considering getting a new dog. Written by a vet and pug owner, I felt like I was getting an honest appraisal of what it means to own and care for a pug. It didn't sugar coat some of the cons (shedding, respiratory issues, etc) and didn't over do the praises of the breed. After reading this book, I really feel like I know what I would be getting into if we decide to go that direction.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Weekend Randomness

Good evening humble readers! I hope that you are all having an excellent weekend! It's been a bit of a week, so let me get you all up to date...

My current battle with insomnia came to a head on Friday. After almost a whole week of getting only 4 hours of sleep a night (yes, I am one of those pathetic souls that NEEDS 8 hours a night) I was exhausted. Thursday night, by 8:30 I was falling asleep at the computer, so I went to bed, fell asleep... and was woken up an hour and a half later by an IBS flare. Grrrrrr! It took about an hour to get past it, but by then I was wide awake and it was too late to take anything to help me sleep. I didn't get back to sleep until after 4am, and the alarm went off at 5:30 (I had an early shift on Friday). I dragged my a$$ to work, and only made it for 3.5 hours before my eyes were starting to cross and I felt like I would burst into tears if I wasn't able to sleep. I came home and in 24 hours, I slept 15. I woke up feeling human this morning so thankfully I think I've won this round.
Due to my lack of sleep, I have had a lack of creativity, and so there have been no posts since Show and Tell. I have been working on my July Reading list, and it should be posted tomorrow sometime. I read some great stuff this month and I want to share it with you all!
Also due to my extreme fatigue this week, I haven't done much cooking. So, to make things up to my Beloved, tonight I made Sliders and Not-So-Greek-Salad. Both turned out awesome, and they went great with watching football (Go Roughriders!). Of course, I'm now wearing some of each because I was paying more attention to the game than to my food. *sigh*
One of my collegues gave notice this week. She's leaving for a good reason and I'm happy for her, but man did she pick a lousy time to give notice. She told our boss the day before he left for vacation, and she only gave two weeks notice. I know it's not required, but generally when you are in management its considered bad form to give less than a month's notice.
I got to bust a store today for selling an embargoed title before its strict-on-sale date. For those not in the book industry, let me explain. Like movies, some books have very strict release dates. Usually it's big titles, like Ha.rry Po.tter or the new Dan Brown book that's coming out in September. If a store is caught selling them before the street date, they can be fined, lose the privilege of getting release day shipments, and possibly even lose rights to carry product from that publisher all together. (Seriously, if I had let the last HP book out before release day, I could have lost my job.) The paperback edition of Ec.lipse by Steph.enie Me.yer is due out this coming Tuesday, and we had customers telling us that a couple of local grocery stores were selling it today. I had my Beloved do some espionage, and he purchased a copy there and a got a receipt dated today. I forwarded the info onto my head office, and that particular grocery chain is going to get in some pretty big kaka.
We had a big boomer roll through our area tonight. Rain, wind, hail, thunder, lightning... it was a kick a$$ storm! My poor Beloved was stuck over at the little grocery store across the alley because I sent him to pick up some fresh buns for dinner. He ended up being there for quite a while waiting for it to let up.
It's official, my basil plants have died. The rosemary and parsley are still doing well though.
I bought a new cookbook today. A Her.shey chocolate cookbook! Let's just say, the pictures look incredible... good enough to eat. I can't wait for it to cool off a bit so that I can try my hand at some of them.

I think that's about it. The Roughriders are winning... YAY!