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Friday, September 28, 2007
As a first anniversary present, we bought our very own mantel clock. It's the old fashioned winding clock that you have to have a special key to wind it. The clock chimes a Westminster chime - the first quarter of the song for 15 minutes after the hour, half for the half hour, three quarters for ... yeah, well, you get the idea. (Yup, different clocks have different chimes - go here to listen to the various types.). Believe it or not, even though I sit right beside it, I barely notice it though if you're not used to it, it can drive you a little batty I'm told. (In fact, my youngest son JUST realized as I as typing this that it chimed at times other than the hour.) I still love hearing it when I wake up at three a.m. as I often do, and listen to it chiming.
About six years ago, GG bought me a cuckoo clock. It's not an old fashioned wind up, it's a quartz mechanism which goes against my purist preferences but it's got a beautiful sound. Whenever I'm talking on the phone with my sister and it chimes the hour (as it usually does at least twice while we're talking), she sighs and tells me how jealous she is. (While I'm sighing over her gorgeous Grandfather clock that's chiming in her background. Yup, Sis collects clocks too.)
Why did Gizmo buy this cuckoo clock for me? Because he'd made the mistake of trying to help me by winding the mantel clock when in the twenty years previous, he'd never touched it. Yup, he overwound it and it sat silent on the shelf while we tried to find a proper repairman - the type who can deal with the insides of an old fashioned wind-up mechanism are few and far behind. Earlier this spring, I met my mother after a long separation, and we kept to neutral topics. One of them was how my mantel clock wasn't working. Her clock, the one I grew up with that started my obsession, had also needed repairs, so she sent me the name of the person who repaired hers. Who was, in all places, in Peterborough just a few blocks from where GG works.
So it's ticking away again, on the first real mantel I've had to put it on (no other house I've lived in since I got married had a fireplace.) And it's probably less than about three and a half feet from the cuckoo clock.
I guess I should also mention that up in the dining room, I have a real cuckoo clock with its lead weight winding mechanism (that's the pinecone thingies that hang on chains beneath the cuckoo clock) and the kidglove bellows that make the cuckoo actually cuckoo.
And there's also the chiming wall clock in the living room. It just chimes the hour, it doesn't strike. In other words, it plays a tune, but doesn't 'bong' once for each hour so you know what time it is, you just know it's the top of the hour.
Now Gizmo Guy and I often sit in the family room watching TV and conversing with our laptops going. We've both been fiddling with Google's iGoogle page, and this morning I added a widget to my page. What widget, you ask? A cuckoo clock that actually chimes. A cuckoo pops his head out and chirps the hourly count followed by a bear and a fox with a beer mug in his hand dance to a fanciful tune as they move from the door on the right to the one on the left. (On the half hour you're treated to a single chirp but no dancing animals.) It's hilarious. I told GG about it, and yup, he added it to his page too.
Can you imagine the cacophony in our house this evening at the top of each hour with the two cuckoo clocks, the mantel clock, the wall clock and the two laptops all chiming?
Yup, it's a zoo. And I love it!
By the way, GG and I have promised each other we'd get a grandfather clock for our anniversary one day. So it's only going to get worse!
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Picked up JR's latest in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series, Lover Unbound this morning. Talked to Janine, the lady in charge of the romance section. They had about 20 copies come in and none of them were going to reach the shelves this morning. So I'm really glad I at least had the sense to have her put a copy aside for me. But I'm still bummed that Amy got her copy early. I really think JR should be getting her publishers after Chapters for releasing it early. It's just not fair. *grumble grumble*
I sat down and read it all the way through. Wow. All I'll say is it's not your typical romance. I know a lot of you are still be reading it, so I won't say anything other than .... it is ... different. Homoerotica. Bondage and Domination. Betrayal. Sacrifice - on so many levels.
It's a book I'm going to end up reading a few times because I think the more you read this one the more you'll get out of it.
Oh, and Phury's story is introduced in this one ... and looks quite interesting. And I think my suspicions are true regarding what she'd hinted at in Dallas for Phury's future are right. But damn it now I have to wait for it!
Monday, September 24, 2007
It's not a dark world like JR's or Sherrilyn's; these vampires are the product of a scientific experiment that backfired and granted humans eternal life at a price, and now they live carefully amongst humans. In Toronto! So instead hanging about the ubiquitous Cafe du Monde in New Orleans, these vamps frequent Tim Horton's, and hang out in The Path, Toronto's underground walkway linking 27 km of shops, as a way to avoid the sun. How cool is that? I quite enjoyed BMIYC, so I started scouring the bookstores and libraries for the other books in the series.
Yesterday I immersed myself in Lynsay's Single White Vampire*. And OMG! Talk about hilarious - I found myself literally laughing out loud in quite a few spots.
600-year-old Lucern Argeneau is grumpy, surly, and basically fed up with humans. He's had a few historical non-fiction books published (who better to write about history than someone who has lived it). So when he decides to chronicle his family's history, specifically that of his brother's and sister's marriages, he sends the stories to his editor expecting them to be published in the same historical treatise vein. To his surprise, his editor publishes them as romantic fiction and they rocket to success. He finds himself hounded by a new editor, Kate C. Leever, who is pushing him to do a book tour and interviews. Due to his mother's manipulations, Lucern reluctantly agrees to do an interview with RT (yes, that's Romantic Times) - not realizing RT is not just an interview but a conference - and he's going to be forced to actually talk in more than single syllable sentences (No) with all his gushing fans.
My favourite scene is Lucern attending the Renaissance Ball in full costume with calamitous results. Jewelled codpiece meets tablecloth. That's all I'm going to say. I was laughing so hard, Gizmo Guy paused the golf game he was watching and stared at me until I finished reading the scene. The golf game got paused a few times yesterday afternoon while I chuckled - and even read out a scene where Lucern is faced with the modern dilemma of having to choose between the variety of condoms offered these days.
Single White Vampire is definitely going on my Keeper shelf. And I'll be looking for Lynsay's three new books in the series coming out next January, February and March.
*The strange thing about the Argeneau series is she hasn't written them in order. Although SWV appears to be book three in the series, it was actually the first book released. Take a look at the release dates:
1. A Quick Bite (November 2005) (Lissianna's story)
2. Love Bites (January 2004) (Etienne's story)
3. Single White Vampire (Sept 2003) (Lucern's story)
4. Tall Dark and Hungry (July 2004) (Bastien's story)
5. A Bite to Remember (June 2006) (Vincent's story)
6. Bite Me If You Can (Feb. 2007) (Lucian's story)
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Wylie tagged me for a Christmas meme – do you know this would have been good on June 25th – exactly six months between the two Christmases. I’m no where near ready to think of buying presents right now. Although I’ve already been thinking about it as I’ve been going through the stores.
What is your favorite Christmas gift? Anything that I can tell someone put some thought into, but I’m with Wylie – my favourite gift is finding someone ELSE that perfect gift, especially the kids when their eyes open wide and they're speechless.
What is your best memory of Christmas? Any Christmas with the kids is special but the first Christmas I was married is one I'll never forget. Not the Christmas itself but this tremendous gesture/tradition Gizmo Guy performed that year. We’d moved four days before Christmas and we’d agreed that we wouldn’t get a tree because it would just be too much hassle to put one up only to take it down and then try to find it amongst all the boxes. It bothered me a bit, but I knew it was the sensible and mature approach - and being just turned 19 that Christmas, I really wanted to be 'mature' about it. Anyway, on with the story. On the 23rd of December Gizmo Guy and I were walking up the four flights of stairs to the apartment. (It was a brand new building and the elevators weren’t working yet.) I noticed there were pine needles on the stairs; it really got to me that someone had a tree while we wouldn't on our first Christmas together. Then GG opened the door to the apartment and there leaning against a corner in the dining room was a beautiful six foot pine tree, while a huge poinsettia sat in the middle of the table. Apparently a nursery he’d driven by had a sign saying if you bought a poinsettia you got a free Christmas tree. So we dragged out the single box of Christmas decorations we had at that point and set up the tree. And every year since, GG has bought me a poinsettia.
Depending upon where you live, do you have a hot or cold Christmas? Cold, with snow. It's been a tradition to go out tobogganing in the afternoon and have a fire going Christmas Eve and Christmas night. I really don’t like green Christmases but that seems to be all we’ve been getting lately.
Would you prefer to try the opposite weather at least just once? Um, no. New Year’s sure, but Christmas needs snow. Well, maybe a Christmas in England might be acceptable. Or Rome - midnight mass in St. Peter's Square.
What do you prefer in a tree? Fake or real? I prefer real – not only real but ‘cut-your-own’. Another tradition GG and I started the very first Christmas I knew him – we went out and cut a tree because my parents didn’t believe in Christmas and refused to put up a tree, so I took matters in my own hands. It became a tradition with the kids too – the kids always picked the perfect tree every year. However, when we got the dog, she decided she liked to sleep underneath it - between the tree and the wall. After she had knocked the real one down three nights in a row spreading gallons of water over the living room rug, we switched to fake the next year. And now we have to drive really far to get a cut-your-own, and the pre-cut ones just aren’t the same. We’ll see what we do this year - but with the kids grown up, it's just not the same any more.
What is your favorite carol? O Holy Night – especially sung by a choir.
What is your favorite Christmas dinner? Traditional roast turkey, lots of stuffing, roast potatoes – we always make triple amounts as everyone loves them, sweet potatoes, corn fried in lots of butter (GG’s specialty), home made biscuits, gravy, cranberry, and a home made trifle for dessert is also demanded by all and sundry. We waddle away from the table and groan about how we ate too much for the rest of the night. Oh, and I mustn't forget the gingerbread houses I usually make. Except for the past couple years when the kids decided they'd just prefer the candies without the house. (One day I'll tell you how one of my houses was a hero during a house fire.)
Do you wear a Santa hat at Christmas? We got the hat for my eldest son's grade one play when he played Santa. And now we have the tradition that whoever passes out the presents wears the hat - so who wears it changes each year – depending on who gets up first and snags it. And yes, battles for it have been known.
Have you ever seen Santa delivering gifts? No, I’m always a good girl who is asleep when he arrives. But I have, um, made sure my kids had proof of reindeer tracks in the backyard.
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
On JR Ward's website it says Vishous's story Lover Unbound won't be released until September 25th. Amazon.com and Amazon.ca both have the same date.
Yet on the Chapters Indigo website, they show it as being released on September 6th - (there are 18 ratings and one review already!)
I wonder if they have it out on the shelves in the stores? Or if it's a website mistake and they're shipping when they're not supposed to. Either way, I want a copy!
Apparently, and almost frighteningly, scientists in the real world are proposing exactly that in the name of finding cures for things such as Alzheimers, etc. Read about it here. And almost half of Canadians back those experiments. Somewhat scary, isn't it?
Saturday, September 15, 2007
If you're still bored, check out Blogger's new webpage where you can watch a slideshow of the photos that are being up loaded to people's blogs. It's here. It's addictive.
Thursday, September 13, 2007
(Hubby just asked what an SO is = significant other, or in this case, Gizmo Guy.)
It was a chilly 6 degrees when I got up this morning, but it'll be a lovely 19 this aft. (For our neighbours to the south, that's 42F and 66F.) Which is quite a change from the sweaty 33 (91) we had last week.
I love this time of year almost as much as I love spring. I prefer the cooler weather where you can get the housework and gardening done without working up so much of a sweat, or risking a sunburn.
In my neck of the woods, the trees started changing in mid-August - a subtle shading of yellow hidden amongst the deep green of the aspens and birches, but now the maples are starting to change as well. In a few weeks we'll be treated to a brief but hopefully brilliant show of orange and yellow and red before the leaves flutter to the ground and the kids complain about having to bag them all for recycling.
Two black squirrels and one grey have dug numerous holes in my back lawn furiously preparing their stash for winter. No, they'll never find whatever it is they're burying and next spring all sorts of strange plants will sprout where they shouldn't. The wild bunnies that frequently help de-weed my lawn of dandelions are growing fatter, while flocks of Canadian geese range overhead.
It cannot be ignored: winter is slowly creeping our way.
But until the first snowflake arrives and my world is reduced to a banal grey and white, I'll bask in the sunlight pouring into my family room; I'll revel in the green grass which has finally revived after a dismally dry summer. And while I'll miss the orange breasts of the robins that have deserted us for warmer climes, and the bright yellow of the goldfinches that have donned their dull green winter clothing, I'll welcome the bright red of the male cardinal who returns here every autumn with his not-so-brilliant mate.
And try to forget what it all portends.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Even though I've only read up to the 'Goal' section of the book (Chapter Two) so far, I can already tell this is going to be one of those books to be kept close by and referred to often. It's an easy-to-read, easy-to-understand reference book - one that doesn't make my head spin. It's all information I 'sort of' knew before, but the clarity of it, and the examples and charts Debra gives helps solidify the premise in my mind and give me a base to jump from when plotting a new story.
Side note: I looked it up on Amazon.ca ($137 and up) and Abe Books and Addall Book Searching ( $84 and went up as high as $222). If you want to buy the book at a reasonable price, buy it directly from the publisher - Gryphon Books for Writers - who sells it for $19.95. That's much easier on the wallet.
Saturday, September 8, 2007
And now you've just learned what Anaphora is too ;)
During the day I bought a couple of tickets for the draws for baskets the volunteers put together as prizes. I'd bought three tickets when I first arrived, then at the last call for tickets late that afternoon, some little voice told me to buy some more. Squeee! One of the second batch of tickets won!
I have another copy of Elizabeth Hoyt's The Leopard Prince, an autographed copy of Julianne MacLean's Surrender to a Scoundrel, two disks of erotica e-books by Bridget Midway - Foolish Games, and Chances. Also in the basket were a jar of Strawberry Rhubarb Jam, an Orange Spice Cake scented tin candle, a bag of Orville Redenbacher's popcorn, an aromatherapy 'scratch and sniff' book, and Tada! A free one hour deep muscle massage by fellow TRW member and one of my critique partners, Dar! (Who promises not to leave me with DOMS - which has nothing to do with any sexual games!)
And as an added surprise, Amy Ruttan slid me a brand spanking new 6 Degrees of Sexy T-shirt that I'd admired on her at last month's meeting. Thanks, Amy! We went to lunch at a restaurant across the street where I got to talk with a fellow classmate - and New York Times Bestselling author Kelley Armstrong. Is it ever inspiring to find a successful published author who is still willing to rub shoulders with us lesser folk. Who was willing to offer her advice regarding my writing.
Then we went over to the Stage Door in the Novotel Hotel where we got to talk with our fellow classmates. Among them were multi-published authors Kelley Armstrong, Molly O'Keefe, Michele Ann Young, Teresa Roblin, Kate Freiman, Kim Howe, Wylie Kinson and newly published Amy Ruttan and Savannah Chase. Margie graciously took time to speak with everyone and answer our questions. Before she hit me in the arm when I said 'if I get published' and told me I had to think 'when I get published.' Yes, she's right. I have to think positively.
All told it was a great day.
Thursday, September 6, 2007
Janine recommended a couple of fairly new authors and I picked one up and read it last night, finished it this morning. I won't say which book it was although it is listed on my 'Books I've Read' list. It was well written, nicely paced, good characters, but the plot ... well, the author used one of those plot devices that drive me nuts. The heroine has agreed to be betrothed to an opposing family in order to discover their secrets and find a way to attack them. So she's skulking around and hiding her secrets while falling in love with the hunky hero. All well and good until she realizes she doesn't want to betray the hero. Does she let him in on her 'secret'? No. She continues to skulk around in the background thinking she can solve all the problems on her own when all she needed to do was say "Hey, hunk! I think you should know something." And of course he discovers what she was sent to do and sends her away. That type of thing makes me want to hurl the book across the room. Will I be using this book for my course? Not a chance. Will I read more of the author's subsequent books? I don't know. Maybe. Probably not.
So what types of things make you want to hurl a book across a room?
Tuesday, September 4, 2007
Until a few minutes ago when a sad tradition occurred. The Snowbirds performed their annual flyover of Captain Michael VandenBos school. Which means that they fly over my house too and I'm treated to my own personal airshow.
My eldest son had the privilege of meeting Captain Michael VandenBos in 1998 when he'd returned home and paid a visit to the 151 'Chadburn' Squadron. Michael had been an Air Cadet in Chadburn squadron in his teens and made sure to take the time to show the impressionable youngsters what was possible if they kept to their books and their goals. That even the skies were possible. He planned to help the squadron raise money by arranging for a special Snowbird airshow on the Oshawa lakeshore. Unfortunately, while the Snowbirds did the show in the summer of 1999, Michael wasn't among their number. The December before, during a training flight out over the prairies, his plane clipped wings with another. Michael ejected, but it turned out the plane hadn't been fitted with the proper sized parachute and he plunged to his death.
Two more pilots have died since then - the news is the last pilot died because his seatbelt malfunctioned during inverted flight - and discussions occur each time as to why these shows are necessary and the cost of replacing the Tutor Jets they fly. Whenever the topic raises its head, and someone recommends scrapping the program, something always sticks in my mind.
My son told me that as they were discussing Captain VandenBos's death, all the air cadets were talking about why they joined the squadron, about why they'd considered a military career in the air force. Almost to a boy - man - they said they had joined after attending a Snowbird performance at an Air Show. How they were inspired by the precision of the pilots. And so they joined the Air Cadets and learned how to march and salute; how to iron and starch their shirts to a crisp edge, and shine their shoes to a mirror-finish in true military tradition; they learned air craft identification, and survival techniques, citizenship, propulsion, navigation, meteorology, and leadership; they studied hard and competed for promotion through the ranks of the squad, and for scholarships for pilot licenses. They went to Armed Forces bases like Borden and Trenton, they flew in gliders and single engine craft while being shown the principles of flight . And they learned how important our military is, and the difficulties - and sacrifices - they face. God bless them all.