Book Quotes: Shiny

July 31, 2016 at 8:15 am (Book Commentary) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Like a magpie, I am a scavenger of shiny things: fairy tales, dead languages, weird folk beliefs, fascinating religions, and more. (Author’s note)

Shiny

…she was the one artists would want to draw…She was the one who would someday know a dozen ways to wear a silk scarf, how to read the sky for rain and coax feral animals near, how to purr throaty love songs in Portuguese and Basque, how to lay a vampire to rest, how to light a cigar, how to light a man’s imagination on fire. (p. 24)

It wasn’t a Gothic cemetery; there were no mossy angels weeping miraculous tears of blood, no crypts or curses or crumble. No poets or courtesans were buried here; no vampires slumbered belowground. … Even the dead loitering here spoke of dull things, like the one who worried she’d left the stove burning when she died. (p. 45)

(Goblin Fruit pp. 1 – 55)

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Lips Touch: Three Times
by Laini Taylor
Toronto: Scholastic, 2009 Lips Touch

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Laura Secord’s Cow

March 6, 2016 at 8:15 am (Fun) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Who do you think of when you think of great Canadian Women?

I think of authors first. The Margarets (Atwood & Laurence), Lucy Maud (Montgomery), Mavis (Gallant) and Alice (Munro) who recently won that big prize! I feel like I should be on a first name basis with them because I’ve read all their writings and so many bios about them that I feel I know them personally. Does this make sense?

I also think history when I think great. There are the Famous Five who used to be on our fifty dollar bill of whom Nellie (why is no one named Nellie anymore) was a member.

96-1-CH-FM16

Lately, I think of Laura Secord when I think great Canadian women. Why? Partly because the War of 1812 has been in my news feed and partly because I recently purchased her chocolate.

There is a dispute as to who really won the War of 1812, the Americans or us? We did, of course (back when we were British). We are the only nation to have successfully burnt down the White House after all!

Laura Secord was a heroine of the War of 1812 because she heard that the Americans intended to surprise the British outpost at Beaver Dams and capture the officer in charge, Lieutenant James FitzGibbon. It was urgent that someone warn FitzGibbon and Laura resolved to take the message herself to FitzGibbon.

Thus a legend was born. The legend of Laura and her cow trekking 30 miles through the woods to warn FitzGibbon. The cow came along to provide cover because a women and a cow in the forest was normal back then!

Laura delivered her message and became legend. We aren’t told what happened to the cow!

Chocolate Bar

A hundred years later, a chocolate company is named in her honor.

In 1913, Frank P. O’Connor, the founder of a small candy business in Toronto selling hand-made chocolates, chose Laura Secord as the name for his company because she “was an icon of courage, devotion and loyalty.”

This has been your Canadian History moment inspired by the latest Canada’s History (formerly The Beaver – a name I much preferred) magazine.

Canadians you have until March 8th to submit your vote for a Great Canadian Woman.

Vote always. Always vote!

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Secret Revealed!

June 15, 2014 at 8:15 am (Life) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

I want to dramatically draw back the curtain. Something in lush purple or black velvet or a dramatic red theatre curtain. Something impressive!

I want a drum-roll. Something by Animal, perhaps.

This is big news. Momentous news!

Draw back the curtains and hit the drums!

I bought a house!

My first house. My only house. I never thought I’d be able to own a house but I got lucky with a huge down payment and a local mortgage. My payments are actually cheaper than my rent has been in the last ten years.

My Street

I turned 54 in April. I bought my first (and only) house in May. Yes, it was as quick as all that. I needed to be closer to my family and where I was just wasn’t working out for anybody. So I jumped in with both feet and my eyes wide upon.

I don’t usually do thing this quickly. I’m a plodder and a planner. It took two years from deciding to go back to school to my first university class. It took me six weeks to get and move from my last job. Most people would have done it in a month – I needed a little more time than that and coincidentally ended up paying two August rents. Not the best plan but it was what I needed!

I decided to move half-way across the province in April, looked at properties Easter weekend and made an offer the Tuesday after Easter. My offer was accepted by Thursday and two weeks later, after all the paperwork was completed, I owned a house.

I started packing the beginning of May and was moved out by the end of May. The possession date on my house was Monday, June 2nd. Thankfully I had family nearby (finally) that I could crash with. So, moved out Saturday, stored my stuff in the moving van until Monday and unloaded Monday evening. Thankfully, I had the next week to unpack and organize.

House Plan0001

I have a house. It’s a very nice house. It has character.

It’s an older house. It was built in 1952 and probably added on since then. I can see the bones and think I’ve figured out where the house was added on to. It’s a little too big for just me. it has three bedrooms – one is now a study – and a partially finished basement that I will seldom use. The basement has no furniture in it right now but it does have a cold room for all the vegetables I haven’t planted yet and all the canning I’ll probably never do!

The house is only slightly older than me and the irony is that much of it has the features I wanted when I drew the floor plan above as part of a college class in 1981! Okay, it’s not surrounded by forest or ocean and the room colours, right now, are very muted. But I can paint if I want (though I’ll probably past the point of wanting an orange and black study).

But there are lilac bushes and a deck for sitting on.

My Lilacs!

It is a writer’s house. It is my house. It sits on a well-treed street in a small city close to family. I can spoil the great-nieces and nephews. I can enjoy my sister’s dog without feeling the urge to get one of my own. I can have a cat (or two, or three – see the plans above – count the cats).

 

House Plan 01

Notice how old the plans are. Notice the typewriter on the desk. Now I have a lap top computer and a roll top desk but no cats (yet). This is the dream that keeps coming back. A place to write. Time to write. A room of my own!

House Plan 02

Notice the abundance of lilac bushes. I wait every year for the lilacs to bloom in the early Spring. They are my favourite flower and they bloom for such a short period of time every Spring. Now, I will have my own lilacs. I will not have to search every new city for glimpses of lilacs. You shall know them by their scent. This year, there is an over-abundance of lilacs. I got to see them bloom in my old place and then got to see them bloom again (I am further north now) at my new home.

My major challenge now is the outdoor space. I’ve never had to worry about outdoor space before.

OMG I have a lawn and flowerbeds and a garden space and way too many weeds. This year, I will hire out but next year (maybe) I will learn to garden though I doubt I will every love to garden. I am not an outdoor person. My eldest sister has already coveted a plant and admonished me about the weeds. She’d rather spent her time outdoors. She, like our mother, loves to garden. I am not an outdoor person. My insides, my house, my home is – after one week – organized and homey. You might think I’ve been here forever as long as you don’t examine the outside too closely.

Now that I’m all unpacked it seems like it’s real. I own a house. I have a home.

Light Border

For Fathers Day – here is a link to his birthday post that I wrote in March.

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My iPhone Lies

March 23, 2014 at 11:40 am (Life, Meme) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

I am a late adapter. That means that I am never the first one to explore new technology. I got my first cell phone (a SmartPhone) in August of 2012 – less than two years ago. However I did jump right in and get an iPhone as my first phone. I was seduced by its image.

Peace Blue Zebra Case_Cell Armor

My iPhone lies. It says I am sophisticated. It tags me as a Sex in the City gal.

It tells people that I would be completely at home living in New York City, attending Broadway plays on a regular basis and spending the rest of my time hob-nobbing with other New York City writers.

When I was much, much younger the thing I wanted to be most was a writer living in New York City. A Carrie, if you will. Though back then Carrie was Helen Gurley Brown, the penultimate editor of Cosmopolitan, who evolved from Arkansas to Manhattan in the 1960s. She went from poverty to literary fame, from small rural town to what was then the literary capital of  the United States.

All the greats, all the women writers I admire, spent time writing and living in New York. Sylvia Plath went to Smith, worked at Mademoiselle and eventually ended up in London. London, England – another city I wished to use to live in. I was too poor to aspire to Smith but if I could write well enough perhaps I too could end up somewhere amazing. I envied her path in life but not her end. Why are the writers we so often admire so tragic?

Then there was Dorothy Parker, witty, not so pretty Dorothy who wore glasses and only wanted to be sophisticated and feared not admired and loved.

So there we have it, a capsule of New York City’s sophisticated writers from the beginning of the 20th century to its end. I’m a big fan of smart and liberated women no matter what century they lived in.

In reality, am I  a Carrie, a Charlotte, a Miranda or a Samantha? I am older then the oldest of them now. The older I get the less I want to move though New York City, London and San Francisco still haunt my books and occasional dreams. These are on my TBR lists. (TBR = books to be read eventually). I’ve downloaded this Cocktail app on my iPhone.

According to these quizzes:  1, 2, 3, and 4 – I am: 1 = Miranda; 2 = Miranda; 3 = Samantha; and 4 = Miranda.

So, mostly, I am a career centered Miranda with a bit of sex positive Samantha thrown in for fun. I can live with that!

Miranda, somewhat like me, is the pragmatic career woman. Though I wouldn’t say that I am highly ambitious, my own life and career does comes first. However, I will always put my iPhone down to enjoy a cocktail with the girls. I am strong-willed, determined and independent. I want what I want but finding the means to achieve what I want is where I run into trouble.  I like to control my life and my space and each time I move it gets harder and harder to do. I want security. I want to be in a place where I’ll know that I’ll never have to move again and I would love to have a relationship with a stable, self-sufficient employed man.

What book character am I?

There are too many to name. I seem to reinvent myself with every decade. My music tastes evolve. I read more widely in many more genres. I get pickier about what I watch on television. I seem less and less to fit in with the norm – not that I ever was miss popular small town wife and mother to be.

I was always slightly different from everyone else but I got very good at passing as normal (or whatever normal seemed to be at the moment).

There is a certain power in names. I renamed myself for this blog. Here, my name is gigi (no capitals please). gigi’s inspiration is e. e. cummings, and the 1958 musical, Gigi.

gigi would not feel uncomfortable living anywhere in the world. She would be friendly while still maintaining her independence. She would be a woman of means who would age gracefully. She would love to wear vintage clothes and wouldn’t care what people said about her unconventional life.

So, as Helen Gurley Brown said:

“After you’re older, two things are possibly more important than any others: health and money.”

And Dorothy Parker opined in her poem, Resume:

Razors pain you;
Rivers are damp;
Acids stain you;
And drugs cause cramp.
Guns aren’t lawful;
Nooses give;
Gas smells awful;
You might as well live.

Myself, gigi, can only hope to one day be as witty and suplime.

Here’s to life – wherever and however you end up living it.

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