Friday, November 30, 2012

In which I watch a little television.

I've been watching this show since the beginning, but every single episode I wonder "Why the hell am I still watching this crap?" It's TERRIBLE.

Let's list all the things wrong with Glee:

-Rachel Berry gets more annoying every year. EVERY year. I always think "At least there's nowhere to go but up," but they prove me wrong.
-They take a stand on every single social issue imaginable, except for teen promiscuity which according to Glee is fanTAStic.
-There is not enough Principal Figgins.
-There are way too many montages.
-Almost every single main female character has lost a lot of weight since the beginning, showing up looking even less like teenagers than they used to, but the show wants us to believe it is fat-inclusive due to an obese sympathetic character or two. They've even introduced an eating-disorder sideline that is so pious and socially-conscious it makes me want to join the girl kneeling by the toilet with her fingers down her throat. Want to prove you're not the same as every other show out there? Encourage your cast members to eat normal amounts of food, rather than rewarding thinness with better costumes and sexy solos. Which brings me to...
-Sarah Jessica Parker. Whaaaa??? Leathery face, tiny eyes, weirdly wiggish hair, skeletal that the best casting they could arrange for Kurt's glamorous fashion mentor?

And lastly, the thing that will make me finally go into my PVR recording setup and select "Do not record future episodes"?

The school-bell fade into and out of EVERY SCENE. I feel like I'm watching an after-school special starring a bunch of 13 year olds.

And that's what you missed


Thursday, November 29, 2012

Is it too soon? -- No way!

Guess what I'm doing this morning?

Screen shot:

Syncing my iPod with all my Christmas music!

It's kind of a big deal, because my iPod is 16GB and therefore a little small for my music collection (34G-ish on iTunes right now, not including those last 150 or so CDs I haven't got around to importing), so I can never just put everything on there at once. There's a certain amount of jockeying for position.

But, 25 days before Christmas, every last jingle goes on there. Every Celtic harp's softly rippling Ave, every jazz trio's swingin' Winter Wonderland, every choir's a capella Stille Nacht. Even the Chieftains and their fiddle-thumping, boot-stamping, spoon-clacking Boar's Head.

I'm so happy right now!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A dream is a WIIIISH your heart makes!

Sort, dust, scrub, vacuum, scrub, wipe, shake, scrub...I'm Cinderella these days. My sister-in-law emailed me on Monday and asked me how the Christmas preparations were getting on, and with a guilty start I realised that all I had done was buy a package of dominosteine (my all-time favourite bought Christmas treat) and read "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" to my daughter twice.

So, yesterday I dug out the family room, and today I spent the ENTIRE day on my hands and knees cleaning the kids' room. We made an arrangement - I would get it completely clean, and they would be in charge of maintenance...keep it that way until Christmas.

After two long days, though, I might be at the end of my zeal for housekeeping.

Here's what I need: I need two GOOD friends - not just "friends" - to help me out. What we'd do is, we'd start in one house on, say, Monday, and clean the living tar out of it, get it all ready for Christmas. Then we'd all three move on to the next one on Wednesday, and then the final one on Friday. In one week, all of our houses would be done for Christmas.

Here are the reasons it doesn't work when I do it myself:
a) it's boring;
b) it's too easy to sit down and check Facebook "just for ten minutes"; and
c) because all the junk is mine, I'm too invested in it and get discouraged trying to make decisions about it.

My friends would do all the stuff nobody needs to TELL them how to do, like dusting, vacuuming behind furniture, scrubbing kitchen counters, and I could just get on with putting things where they belong. I'd have somebody to talk to, AND I'd be embarrassed to stop.

Too bad I don't have any good friends.

Pity party! RSVP.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Going on at length

Okay, then, another vost!

I recorded this video in June (I mistakenly say "April" in the voiceover) and though I have meant to put it on the blog this entire time, I never got around to it. But I had huge fun with that eggnog latte vost, so thought I'd put another one together. I'm weirdly fascinated with hearing myself talk.

This one's about hand-carding Shetland fleece in preparation for spinning. Eventually I'll record the spinning itself, to sort of round things out.

I'm aware this might be sort of boring, but the whole point of vosts is to have a little glimpse into someone's life, and this is definitely a glimpse into mine.

Monday, November 26, 2012

And oh, I'm ashamed.

Erudite Mondays at HalfSoled Boots
Volume 12 Number 2

by Robert Louis Stevenson

I can't believe it's true, but I've never read any Robert Louis Stevenson. Well..."never read any" is a little exaggerated: I mean, I've read A Child's Garden of Verses, of course, and some of Dr. Jekyll, and I read Treasure Island as a child, but it was abridged and paraphrased and condensed and so on. You couldn't hear RLS's voice at all.

Maybe what I mean is, I've never read anything that made me appreciate Robert Louis Stevenson as he deserves to be appreciated.

I picked up "Travels with a Donkey in the Cévennes" in the death throes of my bookstore, and started reading it in the bath last night. By page 20, I had to get out: I was laughing so hard I thought I might displace 40 gallons of Epsom salt solution onto the floor.

There's no point whatsoever in quoting lines from this book in the hopes of interesting you and persuading you to look it up in your library. You just wouldn't get the spirit of it from mere lines. So I'm going to not quote, but excerpt; and hope that it makes you laugh as much as it did me. And I should tell you - he goes on for 20 pages like this, and every page is funnier than the last.

The bell of Monastier was just striking nine as I got quit of these preliminary troubles and descended the hill through the common. As long as I was within sight of the windows, a secret shame and the fear of some laughable defeat withheld me from tampering with Modestine. She tripped along upon her four small hoofs with a sober daintiness of gait; from time to time she shook her ears or her tail; and she looked so small under the bundle that my mind misgave me. We got across the ford without difficulty -- there was no doubt about the matter, she was docility itself -- and once on the other bank, where the road begins to mount through pine-woods, I took in my right hand the unhallowed staff, and with a quaking spirit applied it to the donkey. Modestine brisked up her pace for perhaps three steps, and then relapsed into her former minuet. Another application had the same effect, and so with the third. I am worthy the name of an Englishman, and it goes against my conscience to lay my hand rudely on a female. I desisted, and looked her all over from head to foot; the poor brute's knees were trembling and her breathing was distressed; it was plain that she could go no faster on a hill. God forbid, thought I, that I should brutalize this innocent creature; let her go at her own pace, and let me patiently follow.
What that pace was, there is no word mean enough to describe; it was something as much slower than a walk as a walk is slower than a run; it kept me hanging on each foot for an incredible length of time; in five minutes it exhausted the spirit and set up a fever in all the muscles of the leg. And yet I had to keep close at hand and measure my advance exactly upon hers; for if I dropped a few yards into the rear, or went on a few yards ahead, Modestine came instantly to a halt and began to browse. The thought that this was to last from here to Alais nearly broke my heart. Of all conceivable journeys, this promised to be the most tedious. I tried to tell myself it was a lovely day; I tried to charm my foreboding spirit with tobacco; but I had a vision ever present to me of the long, long roads, up hill and down dale, and a pair of figures ever infinitesimally moving, foot by foot, a yard to the minute, and, like things enchanted in a nightmare, approaching no nearer to the goal.
In the meantime there came up behind us a tall peasant, perhaps forty years of age, of an ironical snuffy countenance, and arrayed in the green tail-coat of the country. He overtook us hand over hand, and stopped to consider our pitiful advance.
'Your donkey,' says he, 'is very old?"
I told him, I believed not.
Then, he supposed, we had come far.
I told him, we had but newly left Monastier.
'Et vouz marches comme ça !' cried he; and, throwing back his head, he laughed long and heartily. I watched him, half prepared to feel offended, until he had satisfied his mirth; and then, 'You must have no pity on these animals,' said he; and, plucking a switch out of a thicket, he began to lace Modestine about the stern-works, uttering a cry. The rogue pricked up her ears and broke into a good round pace, which she kept up without flagging, and without exhibiting the least symptom of distress, as long as the peasant kept beside us. Her former panting and shaking had been, I regret to say, a piece of comedy.
My deus ex machina, before he left me, supplied some excellent, if inhumane, advice; presented me with the switch, which he declared she would feel more tenderly than my cane; and finally taught me the true cry or masonic word of donkey-drivers, 'Proot!' All the time, he regarded me with a comical, incredulous air, which was embarrassing to confront; and smiled over my donkey-driving, as I might have smiled over his orthography, or his green tail-coat. But it was not my turn for the moment.
I was proud of my new lore, and thought I had learned the art to perfection. And certainly Modestine did wonders for the rest of the fore-noon, and I had a breathing space to look about me...In this pleasant humour I came down the hill to where Goudet stands...I hurried over my mid-day meal, and was early forth again. But, alas, as we climbed the interminable hill upon the other side, 'Proot!' seemed to have lost its virtue. I prooted like a lion, I prooted mellifluously like a sucking-dove; but Modestine would be neither softened nor intimidated. She held doggedly to her pace; nothing but a blow would move her, and that only for a second. I must follow at her heels, incessantly belabouring. A moment's pause in this ignoble toil, and she relapsed into her own private gait. I think I never heard of anyone in as mean a situation. I must reach the lake of Bouchet, where I meant to camp, before sundown, and, to have even a hope of this, I must instantly maltreat this uncomplaining animal. The sound of my own blows sickened me. Once, when I looked at her, she had a faint resemblance to a lady of my acquaintance who formerly loaded me with kindness; and this increased my horror of my cruelty. 
To make matters worse, we encountered another donkey, ranging at will upon the roadside; and this other donkey chanced to be a gentleman. He and Modestine met nickering for joy, and I had to separate the pair and beat down their young romance with a renewed and feverish bastinado. If the other donkey had had the heart of a male under his hide, he would have fallen upon me tooth and hoof; and this was a kind of consolation -- he was plainly unworthy of Modestine's affection. But the incident saddened me, as did everything that spoke of my donkey's sex.
It was blazing hot up the valley, windless, with vehement sun upon my shoulders; and I had to labour so consistently with my stick that the sweat ran into my eyes...A priest, with six or seven others, was examining a church in need of repair, and he and his acolytes laughed loudly as they saw my plight. I remembered having laughed myself when I had seen good men struggling with adversity in the person of a jackass, and the recollection filled me with penitence. That was in my old light days, before this trouble came upon me. God knows at least that I shall never laugh again, thought I.
-from Travels with a Donkey in the Cévennes,
by Robert Louis Stevenson
Century Publishing, 1985

Not all the books I review on Erudite Mondays, and tag with "Erudition", actually constitute good reading. I use the term "Erudite", which means well-read, to cover all my reading and reviewing. This book, I'm pleased and satisfied to say, DOES qualify as good reading. It's not "good and difficult", as Dickens can sometimes be; it's not "good and pedantic", as Anne Brontë; it's just a well-written and well-paced book by a person who had a sometimes-underappreciated knack for words.

If you have read it, or if you decide to track it down after this review, let me know what you think. I'd love somebody to join in!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

A major prize!!

On this first day of our last month before Yule, I offer this: a photo of a window from downtown Courtenay, BC, where an enterprising shopkeeper found a great use for one of the spare mannequin parts he had in his back storage room.

It's not for sale, he says, but on the first day he put it up he had 14 requests for disembodied mannequin legs and he no longer has a storage problem downstairs.

Here's to ingenuity and the Christmas Spirit!

Everybody now: "FraJEEElay!"

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Does this even count as a vlog?

Quite a long time ago, my sister urged me to put up a "vlog" - a video blog. Which is another one of those annoying misnomers in our world: really, it should be "vost", because it's a POST, not a BLOG. That's like saying 'book' when you mean 'chapter'.

Anyhow. I know I posted yesterday about my eggnog latte, but in fact I took some video of that process, and thought it would be funny to post it.

In case you have ever wondered what my voice sounds like and whether I have a Canadian accent (which Lizbon maintains that I do), here's a sample.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Ho Ho HOLY CRAP that is strong.

First let me tell you I have a special relationship with Starbucks' Eggnog Lattes. I know other places make them, and make them well, but for me there's nothing like the 'buckies.

They're not cheap, though, (budget $5 each) and when you love them as much as I do you can spend upwards of $75 in November and December just on Eggnog Lattes. (!!!)

Enter the Bialetti, the Illy, and the Lucerne. Yowza!

Helpful YouTube Italian dude says mound the grounds: I obey. (Regretted that last tablespoon though.)

Steamin' hot eggnog/milk (2:1) and a frother.

Huge, "Friends"-style 500ml mug, nutmeg grater, and a camera reflection.

Overfilled for that luscious 'nog-foam experience.

Starbucks ornament snowman says "Way to save yourself $5! You cheap bastard."

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Playing catch-up

This week I've been working on a few things. I made myself a wool houndstooth skirt (this is an in-progress shot):

...I fed my Christmas ornament collection:

...I made cinnamon buns:

...and I did some slightly secret salvaging, cutting, and punching, all to stock the Etsy shop. I'm hoping to launch it by Christmas.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

3 guesses?

Let me give you sample phrases from a conversation I had today, and you can guess where I was and how broke I am going to be for the next five years:

a) peg-shaped laterals
b) palate eruption
c) canine impaction

Huh? Huh? Whaddya think?


I've been knitting to cheer myself up. Dave and Joe have ordered Christmas sweaters for Ruby and Sadie, and I'm nearly finished. All the knitting is done - they are just waiting for buttons (the pink) and blocking (both). I was just too lazy to take new photos...these ones are a couple of months old.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

It really happened

I'm sad our little family reunion is over. I wish we had taken more photos - specifically, a whole-family shot - but Dad's birthday weekend was so busy I forgot about my camera.

I love these people so much...I'm glad I have these pictures at least.

L-R it's Me, Dad, and Gwen, as taken by my daughter.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Can't We All Just Get Along?

Erudite Mondays at Half Soled Boots 
Volume 12 Number 1 

Joanne Harris

I picked this book up, in large part, because of the title. Isn't that weird? It just goes to show you that when you're writing your dissertation, you should consider "Rum and the Crunching of Cannons" rather than "Antisocial Tendencies of Seventeenth-Century Trade Ships".

This book is by the same author as "Chocolat", which all of you no doubt remember because of Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp. (Johnny Depp. Sweeeet.) Personally, I love that movie, which is what made me take the book out of the library a few years ago. When I saw that Harris had written another book about the same characters, I jumped at it.

Imagine my surprise when I found that it's the THIRD book, not the second! I somehow missed "The Lollipop Shoes".

At any rate, I liked "Peaches". It had that same spicy luxury of "Chocolat", but with the important addition of a handful of Muslim culture - Lansquenet, that same village where we saw Vianne Rocher open her chocolaterie in the middle of Lent, has seen an influx of North African immigrants, who have "taken over" a neighbourhood on the other side of the river, bringing the niqab, and the muezzin, and a minaret with them.

In this book Lansquenet, the village that hates change, comes face to face with a very visible, very alien culture. The theme, of course, boils down to "we're all the same underneath", and after all the violence and mystery and sudden crises, the author does get there with some compelling arguments.

The weakest parts of the book are the somewhat contrived conflicts and the slightly heavy-handed suspense. "Who is the veiled woman?" is a question that can only interest a reader for so long, and I admit I started to get a little impatient with it. The one other thing that didn't sit terribly well was the implication that the French Catholic residents, who don't like the black veils everywhere and the five-times-daily calls to prayer, are simply lacking in human sympathy - they are unable to understand that "they are just like us". This part of the story felt a little too pat for me. It felt naive, as if any given community should be quite happy to have its cultural traditions overset by newcomers of a diametrically-opposed faith. (I'm envisioning the seismic aftermath of a Catholic church opening in one of Saudi Arabia's villages.)

But then, the whole premise of Vianne Rocher's character is that she barges in, guns blazing, to overset  tradition and free people from the tyranny of the establishment. And the author is not crazy about the Catholic church, either as an institution or as it's represented at the individual level - the flyleaf lists "priest-baiting" as one of Joanne Harris' hobbies. So it really doesn't come as a surprise that the tone of this book is, culturally speaking, fairly pro-Muslim; a sort of disapproving headshake to Western religious and cultural intolerance.

There are a few hard-line Muslims in this book, as well as hard-line Catholics, but once those are tidied out of the way, everybody gets together over a cracking party - the end of Ramadan. Lots of food, party lanterns, and brightly-coloured clothes - always a great idea for promoting interfaith understanding. (Again, having fun picturing those Muslim Saudis, swapping coconut macaroons and Turkish Delight with a bunch of Christians under patio lanterns on the 12th day of Christmas. As if.)

Overall, I liked this book a lot. The central conflict might have been a little predictable, and the Muslim/Christian issues overly ambitious, but that didn't take away from my enjoyment of it. It was a fun read (and short - not even a full weekend) and full of pretty images, smells, and tastes. Give it a try, especially if you liked "Chocolat".

Half Soled Boots Highly-Specialised Book Rating System
Reread? Not impossible, eventually
Given to Others? Maybe, but likely not
Bookplate? No

1/3 - pure entertainment.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Ev'y dang thang.


Posting every day is going to take some getting used to. Even short, meaningless posts need to be actually written, which takes actual time spent online.

Yesterday I mentioned Christmas. I was feeling a bit smug up until this afternoon, thinking about all the presents I've already made or bought. I opened up my planning document (Yes, I have a Christmas present planning Word doc...every year since 2005) and realised with a shock that I still have my sister, my brother, my Mum and my Dad to take care of.

Whaaaa?!? Since when did finishing ONLY MY KIDS' PRESENTS constitute "I'm nearly done"? I've collected some things together for Mr HSB as well, but I still have some work to do there.

Speaking of Mr HalfSoledBoots, this year, for the first time, I've given him a job. "I need your help," I said - something I never NEVER say - "I am giving your brother, your Dad, and your brother-in-law over to are in charge of deciding what to get them, budgeting it, shopping for it, and getting them to me by December 1 so they can be mailed."

He grunted, so I'm not sure whether the challenge was accepted or not. It could be that, come December first, I might say "So where are these presents?" and he will reply, without looking up from the TV, "I never agreed to that."

The most depressing part is, I would probably come through anyway and, amidst tears and recriminations, go do the shopping myself.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Somebody chalk a line.

I don't know what it means, if anything, but lately I've noticed that I am way happier during the evenings when I have a glass of wine or two.

I'm not worried about this, although I'm sure some people might see it as a sign of incipient alcoholism...I'm inclined to regard it more as a symptom of being stressed and overtired.

Speaking of stressed and overtired, have I shared lately how many days there are until Christmas? 36 tomorrow. Woot!

Friday, November 16, 2012


Out for coffee with Karen last night, she asked me what I had made for dinner. "I sliced up some chicken breast, Shaked and Baked that sucker. Chucked some frozen McCain redskin fries into the oven and stuck a bottle of ketchup on the table, called it done."

"Yum! But I'd be enjoying cinematography all night."


Turns out, Shake and Bake gives her super-intense action-adventure dreams. "I wake up completely exhausted."

I nearly fell over laughing.

Last weekend my Dad turned 75, and we threw a big, fancy party for him. After all the guests had gone, Oscar Peterson still tickling the ivories on the hi-fi (how's that for history?), my daughter took a turn around the parquet with Dad. It was maybe my favourite moment of the whole party.

Happy Birthday Dad!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Day One

I'm trying something new for a while. I've decided to post to the blog every day.

I've become quite aware, lately, of the accumulation of moments and days - the way they stack up awfully quickly into years and decades. I've never been good at pen-and-paper journaling, but this format might be a bit more achievable for me. I'm looking forward to reading back at the end of the process and rediscovering events I might have forgotten.

Yesterday I dropped my daughter off at the stable, where she was going to have a practice ride. An hour later the phone rang - her coach's cell phone. My daughter fell off the horse, could I meet them at the hospital?

It's just a broken collar bone, thank God, but I'm wondering why on earth she couldn't have taken up a different sport? Why did she have to pick one that kills people all the time? What's wrong with a nice game of croquet?

Monday, November 12, 2012

I LOVE leftovers.

Erudite Mondays
Volume 11 Number 4
by Tom Perrotta

This book was a weird little number. I LOVED it.

The premise is, the Rapture has happened. You know the one I mean - it's out of fashion in Christian circles nowadays, but it has enjoyed very sensational press in the past. The twist about this Rapture tale, though, is that not all the people taken were Christians. Or even "good people", if such a thing exists -- the Rapture was random. Some of the missing were atheists, some Muslim, and so on. (Gasp!) Interestingly, because of this seeming impartiality, Christian groups in the book deny that it even WAS the Rapture.

The novel deals with the lives of the people who have been left behind. The Rapture has happened, their wives, children, families, friends have been taken, and they have not. How do they react, how do they cope, how can they live their lives?

The author does a wonderful job of portraying human emotions in all their messy glory - the range of feelings the characters experience during the novel. It was a totally gripping book, because the human story was so profound. It was deeply sad and troubling, with a good dose of suspense and foreboding.

I spent three quarters of the novel waiting for the other shoe to drop. I half expected the author to pull back the curtain and show us exactly what happened. Or, I thought (as did many of the characters) there might be a second "Disappearance".

This book is really about people. It's about humans and the way they love, grieve, and live on afterwards. It's marvellous and you should read it.

Go! Read it!

HSB Highly-Specialised Book Rating System

Reread: Yes
Give to Others: Yes! Already have.
Bookplate: Yes.