Friday, January 30, 2009

inspired by Life

I rarely read the
Life section of The Globe and Mail. In the mornings, I tend to skim the front section over breakfast and then get the rest of my news from the radio and online. However, today, as I was waiting for something on the stove, I grabbed the Life section and found several articles to be of interest.

I didn't know about modern Superheroes, who don costumes to patrol the streets or do good works. These guys are proud of who they are and they think they're pretty cool, too. "I'm not a fat kid in someone's basement or some geek living out a fantasy," says a caped crusader based in Vancouver, who calls himself 'Thanatos'. Dunno. Seems a little odd to me.

I am now worried about the fact Bhisphenol A can be absorbed through cash register receipts and water pipes as well as through food.

I have seen evidence of knitted graffiti in my own city but had no idea it had become a world wide phenomenon until my Danish friend M. sent me a link to an article about "craftivists" in Copenhagen. Now I can't help wondering, if it's in the Life Section of the Globe, is it still subversive?

I learned that men undergoing vasectomies can sometimes see a puff of smoke coming from their groin area during the procedure. What would make that happen?

I was reminded that yoga will enhance my cardio performance and that exercise can help stave off diabetes and heart disease. What I didn't know that short, intense burst can be especially beneficial. Now that got my wheels turning.

And I was moved to tears as I read how one woman lost her precious son to suicide at the age of 17. My spouse and I have both struggled with depression at various points in our lives, as have family members. I do worry about my boys. I want to protect them from everything. Hopefully, love, patience and all the right kinds of support (along with a generous dose of luck) will lead them to live happy and healthy lives.

What did you learn in the news today?

Thursday, January 29, 2009


Whenever I have bloodwork done before chemo, the nurse will flush out my
port with saline. I always get a salty taste in my mouth and in the back of my throat.

Lately, I have been getting that taste when I am out walking my dogs in the city. I have a lot of winters under my belt but this is the first time I have noticed this. I don't know whether there is more salt on the streets this year or if more of it is being churned up by the extra traffic (there certainly more, along with more pollution from exhaust since the bus trike started five weeks ago). It freaks me out a little.

A couple of week ends ago, I woke up to find out that the power was out in half the house. The living room had no power, the dining room was fine. Our bedroom had no power. The other upstairs rooms were OK. The furnace worked (thank goodness) but the hot water heater did not. The fridge was working fine but the microwave was not. The strangest part was that half the stove was working (three of the elements and the oven were working. The display panel and a fourth element were not) The breadmaker, which was plugged into the stove, was chugging away.

We dithered a bit about what to do until I insisted that we call an electrician (it was a Saturday morning). Three hundred dollars later, he told us that the problem was around a little box outside the house (I believe it's called a "crimp"). If the issue was on one side of the box, Hydro (the electric company) would have to fix it, if it was on the either side than it would be "very, very expensive."

So, after torturing ourselves with some worse-case scenarios, we called Hydro.

Then the power came back on.

Hydro came a couple of hours later and narrowed down the likely problem to some wires that had been corroded by salt (I should point out that we live on the corner of a very busy thoroughfare). They fixed the wires closest to the house but were called away before they could fix the ones by the box on the street (don't you all love my technical expertise in these matters?) they were called to a fire.

The power went off again a couple of hours later.

I called Hydro again but since we still had heat, we weren't at the top of their emergency list.

Hydro came back the next morning, by which time the power was on again.

The guys (the same ones as the day before) fixed the street end of the wires and we have not had a problem since.

And yes, T., we should have called Hydro in the first place.

It's made me wonder, though, about all the salt we must be breathing in (along with all the other pollutants from cars and other things). It can't be good for you.

I'd ask Mr. Internet but I'm too scared.

And it occurs to me that I didn't even think about pollution (let alone salt) when we bought the house more than 10 years ago.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

some days are blue, some days are indulgent

I have been feeling kind of blue these last few days.

I'm always relieved after I get good scan results but a feeling of let-down seems to follow almost every time and I find myself, once again, channelling Peggy Lee and asking "Is that all there is?"

I just finished the latest round of edits on my book (coming out this spring with Women's Press!) and I have been left wondering, 'so, what's next?'

I haven't looked at the outline for my novel since I submitted it for my writing course on December 31st. The course is over and I am feeling kind of daunted. I've been asking myself, "Can I do this?" and "What purpose would it serve?"

This morning, I had an appointment with my wonderful oncologist who confirmed my CT results. He also referred to my "normal" life.

I told him that I have been feeling kind of "ground down" by the emotional wear and tear of treatment, as much as the buildup of toxins.

He gently reminded me that I need to think of myself as having a chronic illness, "like diabetes", that needs to be managed but that doesn't stop me from living my life.

I told him that I know how lucky I am and that I am very grateful not to be dead (at which point he rolled his eyes) and that I've been doing other things to keep my life full and interesting (like writing) but that I miss the more fast-paced, structured work environment.

My oncologist was sympathetic but said that we are working at keeping treatment "as innocuous as possible." I only go for treatment every four weeks and I phone in for every other appointment with him. And he's right.

The truth is that I couldn't go back to the kind of long hours that I worked before cancer. Even if I could miss three or four days on treatment weeks, my body couldn't tolerate the stress or long hours. And I am not sure that I really want that back or if I am just missing the sense of identity that I got from my job.

My oncologist suggested that I skip a cycle over the summer and I'll do that. I'll also keep working at doing the things that make me happy.

I have the chance to work at making art (and writing is art). I have to embrace this rare privilege, not feel guilty about it or self-censuring and just see what happens.

Some days are easier than others.

I asked my oncologist whether there were any restrictions on my activities. He said, "No." He added that there were also "No restrictions on lifestyle" - this is the same oncologist who suggested that dope would help me to cope with the side effects of chemo (it did!) and who routinely suggests I go out for a drink to celebrate any kind of news (wine for good news, scotch for bad) - "The liver is healthy. So you can party."

To which my spouse replied, "As if she needs any encouragement."

However, given the fact that I have gained 30 pounds since I was first diagnosed (10 of those in the last two months), I think I'll be living a more ascetic existence for a while.

Cross-posted to Mothers With Cancer.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Older, yes.

And definitely wiser.

But better, too.

With every passing year.

And every gray hair.

I love you.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

another irresistible list of books

I have lifted this from Sassymonkey who stole got it from Kailana, who got it from Booklogged's blog.

It's Entertainment Weekly's "New Classics" List. It's an interesting list, sure. I have read 20 of the books on the list (crossed out below) and loved them all except The Da Vinci Code (meh) and The Corrections, which I couldn't finish.

I have also bolded the ones I have in my house (via my spouse, gift, long term loan or my own purchase) that I haven't read yet. There are quite a few of those too. I'm happy to see several graphic novels on the list.

What do you think?

1. The Road , Cormac McCarthy (2006)
2. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, J.K. Rowling (2000)
3. Beloved, Toni Morrison (1987)
4. The Liars’ Club, Mary Karr (1995)
5. American Pastoral, Philip Roth (1997)
6. Mystic River, Dennis Lehane (2001)
7. Maus, Art Spiegelman (1986/1991)
8. Selected Stories, Alice Munro (1996)
9. Cold Mountain, Charles Frazier (1997)
10. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Haruki Murakami (1997)
11. Into Thin Air, Jon Krakauer (1997)
12. Blindness, José Saramago (1998)
13. Watchmen, Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons (1986-87)
14. Black Water, Joyce Carol Oates (1992)
15. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, Dave Eggers (2000)
16. The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood (1986)
17. Love in the Time of Cholera, Gabriel García Márquez (1988)
18. Rabbit at Rest, John Updike (1990)
19. On Beauty, Zadie Smith (2005)
20. Bridget Jones’s Diary, Helen Fielding (1996)
21. On Writing, Stephen King (2000)
22. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Junot Díaz (2007)
23. The Ghost Road, Pat Barker (1996)
24. Lonesome Dove, Larry McMurtry (1985)
25. The Joy Luck Club, Amy Tan (1989)
26. Neuromancer, William Gibson (1984)
27. Possession, A.S. Byatt (1990)
28. Naked, David Sedaris (1997)
29. Bel Canto, Anne Patchett (2001)
30. Case Histories, Kate Atkinson (2004)
31. The Things They Carried, Tim O’Brien (1990)
32. Parting the Waters, Taylor Branch (1988)
33. The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion (2005)
34. The Lovely Bones, Alice Sebold (2002)
35. The Line of Beauty, Alan Hollinghurst (2004)
36. Angela’s Ashes, Frank McCourt (1996)
37. Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi (2003)
38. Birds of America, Lorrie Moore (1999)
39. Interpreter of Maladies, Jhumpa Lahiri (2000)
40. His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman (1995-2000)
41. The House on Mango Street, Sandra Cisneros (1984)
42. LaBrava, Elmore Leonard (1983)
43. Borrowed Time, Paul Monette (1988)
44. Praying for Sheetrock, Melissa Fay Greene (1991)
45. Eva Luna, Isabel Allende (1988)
46. Sandman, Neil Gaiman (1988-1996) (The first one..)
47. World’s Fair, E.L. Doctorow (1985)
48. The Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver (1998)
49. Clockers, Richard Price (1992)
50. The Corrections, Jonathan Franzen (2001)
51. The Journalist and the Murderer, Janet Malcom (1990)
52. Waiting to Exhale, Terry McMillan (1992)
53. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, Michael Chabon (2000)
54. Jimmy Corrigan, Chris Ware (2000)
55. The Glass Castle, Jeannette Walls (2006)
56. The Night Manager, John le Carré (1993)
57. The Bonfire of the Vanities, Tom Wolfe (1987)
58. Drop City, TC Boyle (2003)
59. Krik? Krak! Edwidge Danticat (1995)
60. Nickel & Dimed, Barbara Ehrenreich (2001)
61. Money, Martin Amis (1985)
62. Last Train To Memphis, Peter Guralnick (1994)
63. Pastoralia, George Saunders (2000)
64. Underworld, Don DeLillo (1997)
65. The Giver, Lois Lowry (1993)
66. A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again, David Foster Wallace (1997)
67. The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini (2003)
68. Fun Home, Alison Bechdel (2006)
69. Secret History, Donna Tartt (1992)
70. Cloud Atlas, David Mitchell (2004)
71. The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, Ann Fadiman (1997)
72. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Mark Haddon (2003)
73. A Prayer for Owen Meany, John Irving (1989)
74. Friday Night Lights, H.G. Bissinger (1990)
75. Cathedral, Raymond Carver (1983)
76. A Sight for Sore Eyes, Ruth Rendell (199
77. The Remains of the Day, Kazuo Ishiguro (1989)
78. Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert (2006)
79. The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell (2000)
80. Bright Lights, Big City, Jay McInerney (1984)
81. Backlash, Susan Faludi (1991)
82. Atonement, Ian McEwan (2002)
83. The Stone Diaries, Carol Shields (1994)
84. Holes, Louis Sachar (1998)
85. Gilead, Marilynne Robinson (2004)
86. And the Band Played On, Randy Shilts (1987)
87. The Ruins, Scott Smith (2006)
88. High Fidelity, Nick Hornby (1995)
89. Close Range, Annie Proulx (1999)
90. Comfort Me With Apples, Ruth Reichl (2001)
91. Random Family, Adrian Nicole LeBlanc (2003)
92. Presumed Innocent, Scott Turow (1987)
93. A Thousand Acres, Jane Smiley (1991)
94. Fast Food Nation, Eric Schlosser (2001)
95. Kaaterskill Falls, Allegra Goodman (1999)
96. The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown (2003)
97. Jesus’ Son, Denis Johnson (1992)
98. The Predators’ Ball, Connie Bruck (1989)
99. Practical Magic, Alice Hoffman (1995)
100. America (the Book), Jon Stewart/Daily Show (2004)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

too good to be called filler

I think I am taking the day off from writing today. I have another video for you that is well worth watching. It's from ill Doctrine and it is the best video blog/rant that I have ever seen.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Typing this with the TV on...

What a day! I'm watching Michelle Obama wave at the crowd as I type this. And I have shivers.

This video gave me shivers, too. Pete Seeger is an old man now. I wonder if he thought he would ever see this day. I loved this so much.

And I loved the inclusion of the lyrics that are so often excised in this song (I certainly didn't learn them in school):

As I was walkin'  -  I saw a sign there
And that sign said - no tress passin'
But on the other side .... it didn't say nothin!
Now that side was made for you and me!


In the squares of the city - In the shadow of the steeple
Near the relief office - I see my people
And some are grumblin' and some are wonderin'
If this land's still made for you and me.

Obama is onscreen now, heading down the stairs to join the crowd. What must he be thinking right now?

Did you know that there is a Canadian version of this song?

"from Bona Vista, to Vancouver Island, from the Arctic Circle to the Great Lake Waters - this land was made for you and me!"

The video also includes my two boyfriends, Bruce Springsteen and Tao Rodriguez. Yum! And everyone in the crowd is so happy. Check out George Lucas. And a bunch of other people who I'm sure I should recognize.

Here he is!!!!! He's looking very Presidential. And confident.

My older son called me from school this morning. He and his friends had been combing the school for an available (and functioning) TV. His teacher suggested that a parent could tape it, so I am doing that now and they will watch tomorrow. I think it is so cool that they want to. Remember that we are in Canada and they are in Grade 5.

Rick Warren is speaking now. I imagine he will stay away from gay marriage. He's invoking Dr. King as I type this.

Obama's Playlist has been posted. One of the song's I nominated (it means "the complaint of the seal in Alaska") made the cut. It's a terrific list - diverse and interesting. And truly representative. Apparently, there were more than 130,000 votes cast.

If you are stuck inside today and want some diversion, check out The Seated View. Lene has lots of great links to interesting things posted there. There's one link though that struck me as typically American. What do you think about the Back-Up?

Oh, Aretha is singing! Shivers again! And goosebumps the size of golf balls!

I am going to try and tear myself away from the TV soon (but not just yet) so I can make dinner and go and meet Sassymonkey for decadent afternoon pint (or two) and some knitting. Going to celebrate a clean scan, the completion of my latest round of edits - and this incredible moment in history.

Biden is being sworn in! Obama is next!

Let's all hold some joy in our hearts so that we can work together to bring some real, lasting and positive change to this world of ours.

He's being sworn in now! He's screwing it up a bit, it's so cute. First sign of nerves. That's it! Congrats my American friends!

Monday, January 19, 2009

right to the point

This blog is having an existential crisis. I don't seem to write that much about cancer these days. A more appropriate title might be in order ("Occasionally About Cancer?" "Not Just About Life, Kids, Dogs, Books, Weather Extremes and Cancer"?) but then how would people find me?

I was interrupted by the phone ringing. This is the subsequent telephone conversation, transcribed pretty much verbatim:

A (nurse who works with my oncologist, returning my call about my most recent CT scan results*): "May I speak to Laurie, please?"

Me: "This is Laurie."

A: "Hi, it's A. from the cancer centre."

Me: "Hi A."

A: "Everything's fine. No change."

Me: "Yay! Yay! Yay! Thank you, A!"

A: "You're welcome! Bye!"

The cancer centre's stated policy is that they do not give out results over the phone but my oncologist has been making an exception for me for a while now. If they ever do ask me to come in, I will be very suspicious.

So, I am happy to say that I have nothing new to report on the cancer front.

On another note, go read the comments from my last post. There's some good stuff in there.

*I just tried to link to the post about my most recent scan (it was last Wednesday) and found that I didn't write one. Instead, I wrote about the weather and losing my dog. It appears that, while they still make me anxious, CT scans are less newsworthy than the cold and my pets. Lucky me.

Friday, January 16, 2009

the quest for knowledge

It's currently -22C (-8F) outside with a windchill of -27C (-17F). Compared to the last couple of days, it's positively balmy.

My spouse came home today with a yearning to do a science experiment. It involved a spray bottle full of boiling water and very cold temperatures. We had ready access to both.

My oldest son and my spouse went outside on our back porch to freeze in the interest of science (my youngest was having none of it, preferring to remain indoors and watch science unfold onscreen, via The Magic School Bus). The results were actually pretty cool.

Apparently, it's cold enough out to freeze boiling water in mid-air.

Note the pained look on my son's face. He'd insisted on going outside without a coat or hat and was paying the price.

Honestly, this man missed his calling. He would have made a great teacher.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

little dog lost (and found)

Two nights ago, I was settling in for an evening of knitting and lattes with a couple of good friends, when my cell phone rang. It was my spouse calling. "Lucy got out."

My heart sank. Lucy is only ten months old, very friendly, absolutely fearless and with no street smarts whatsoever. And we live on a very busy corner.

Within minutes, my friend D. and I had packed up and collected our other friend who had yet to arrive at the coffee shop. They both insisted on coming home with me to look for my dog. I tried to suggest to them that it wasn't necessary but I am very glad that neither of them would listen to me.

We arrived at my house about fifteen minutes later, in a blinding snow storm, with the temperature dropping rapidly. On the drive home, I had felt anxious and queasy, hoping desperately not to see Lucy's little body in the street.

My neighbour, who was out shovelling, insisted on joining in the search. My spouse was already in our car, checking out the local dog parks. My neighbour hopped in his vehicle to help comb the neighbourhood streets. He's a good man.

The rest is a blur. I know that my friend D. went to speak with my oldest son, who was extremely worried. My friend K. offered to call the Humane Society, so that I could go look for my dog. I pretty much launched myself into the street, bellowing her name.

I wasn't out for five minutes when two young women called out from across the street, "Ma'am, have you lost your dog?" I waited what felt like hours for the light to change so I could go and talk to them. When I described Lucy, they nodded emphatically. Two of their room-mates had picked her up (on the sidewalk of the busy street) and taken her home. Since she wasn't wearing a tag (we are such procrastinators and let the fact that she is micro-chipped lull us into a false sense of security), they had called animal control, and they, in turn, had taken her to the Humane Society.

I was so relieved. And grateful. I was in too much shock to remember where they lived or to get there names. But I am so thankful that they did what they did.

My two friends and I drove to the Humane Society (still in a blinding snow storm). It was closed but we circled the building and pounded on every door before driving back home. I did manage to call the bylaw officers to confirm that a dog matching Lucy's description had been taken to the Humane Society. And, thanks to my friend K., I spoke to someone at the Humane Society who told me that Lucy would be warm and safe until we came to collect her in the morning.

Back at my house, many of us cried tears of relief.

We bailed the dog out of jail the next morning, none the worse for her adventures. She was very, very happy to see us and very, very tired. There is no evidence, however, that her brush with the law has set her back on the straight and narrow.

Some interesting things I learned and observed during this adventure, listed randomly:

1-I have the best friends anyone could ever hope to have. I aspire to deserve them.

2-There are many good people in the world. So many people helped to save our dog and calm our fears.

3-Every dog should have a tag on with the owner's phone number whenever she goes outside.

4-Tibetan Terriers are nimble and they can jump. We have not yet figured out how she escaped but I think we need to clear all the snow away from our fences. And we can't leave Lucy in the yard without supervision. As the temperatures have plunged (down to -39C with the windchill), this is a challenge.

5-I am a mother to my very core. I was worried about the dog for my own sake (I love the little brat) but I was especially concerned for the sake of my kids (especially my oldest, who loves the dogs as much as I do).

6-Apparently, even bundled in winter gear from head to toe, I am now obviously old enough to be called, "Ma'am."

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

up to our eyeballs in winter

The snow has stopped but it was -39C (that's -38F) with the windchill.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

words to live by in 2009

We spent New Year's Eve with a family we have known for a long time. It was low- key and great fun. We set up a projector and a screen and watched Mamma Mia (I LOVED it!) and The Blues Brothers (which I am embarrassed to say I had never seen). We turned it all off at just before midnight to do the countdown, wish each other 'Happy New Year' and break out the champagne. It was just exactly what I wanted to be doing.

Someone asked about New Year's Resolutions. I wasn't really paying attention until my friends' son, R., looked me right in the eyes and said, "What about you, Laurie?"

Without thinking, I answered,
"Treat my body as well as I've been treating my mind."

It was a revelation.

As some of you may have noticed, my updates on my Resolutions for 2008 kind of fell by the wayside after a few months. I still think that making SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely) goals makes a lot of sense (whether you set them at New Year's or not). And in some areas I did extremely well (I have already written about how proud I am of the writing I did this year) and in others...not so much (I didn't as much as re-organize one closet under the "getting organized" category).

I was the most uneven when it came to taking care of my health, especially as I became absorbed in other pursuits.

For a while, I was running but then I injured myself. I kept walking but at a pretty leisurely pace and spent a fair bit of time standing around in the dog park. By the end of the year, I had abandoned yoga, stretching of any kind and even token attempts at strengthening my abs.

I started cooking more regularly (I am very proud of this) but stopped ensuring that I ate enough vegetables.

I indulged way too much in the things that aren't good for me (hello sugar, fat and wine) and stopped doing the little things to enhance my diet (no more flax seed, berries or green tea).

It is time to start taking care of this precious body again. And while I am fortunate to have remained in remission for more than a year, it's time to do what I can to bolster my health.

The mind and the body can't really be separated. If I treat myself well physically, then my mind and soul will thrive.

My SMART goals for January when it comes to my health:

1-Walk VIGOROUSLY for an average of one hour, five times per week. I've been working hard at this and was surprised to realize how much fitness I've lost. And walking in the snow at a good clip? Every bit as good a workout as running.

2-Eat seven servings of fruit and veggies a day. This is so hard. But I'm working on it.

3-Cook dinner at least once a week. Missed last week but made an elaborate, time-consuming vegetarian meal last night that was basically a flop. It still counts, though.

I'll keep you posted as to how it goes.

What are you doing to improve your health in 2009?

Monday, January 12, 2009

six word memoir (and a longer one)

Lmstell, who blogs at "I can't complain any more than usual" (I love that title), challenged the Mothers With Cancer collective to come up with a six word memoir. I am, once again, somewhat late to the party. Here is mine:

Not done yet. Still (mostly) thriving.

I challenge each of you to write one, too!

Cross-posted to Mothers With Cancer.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

4 am in my brain

Someone left the door open (it might have been the wine).

Regret, Fear and Anxiety (Fear's cousin) stepped through, arm in arm.

Sleep doesn't like crowds. She left.

Friday, January 09, 2009

obama's canadian playlist

It's the last day to vote! The CBC has invited us to put together a list of "49 songs from North of the 49th parallel" that would make up an inaugural present for Barack Obama.

What songs do you think of as quintessentially Canadian? Which ones would help educate the soon-to-be President about his neighbours up North ? What subtle (or not so subtle) messages would we like him to be playing on his mp3 player when he goes for a run?

The last day to nominate a song is Friday, January 9th (that's today) at 8pm ET. The CBC will then put together a list of their top 100, which they will post by January 12th. Voting for our favourites will close on January 16th.

You don't have to be Canadian to vote but the songs, or the singer or the songwriter must be Canadian. Send your suggestions to "obamasplaylist at cbc dot ca."

Here are my nominations, sent by email on December 30th:
1. "Kiri's Piano" by James Keelaghan. Keelaghan is a master storyteller and this is a part of Canadian history about which many Canadians remain sadly ignorant (the internment of Japanese Canadians and the expropriation of their land and possessions). Also, the song is hauntingly beautiful. My spouse and I had to pull the car over the first time we heard it (being played on the CBC) many years ago.

2."La complainte du phoque en Alaska" by Michel Rivard and Beau Dommage. Michel Rivard is another terrific song-writer and I think every Canadian francophone knows this song. The song has risen to prominence again recently with the ad "Culture en péril (Culture in Danger)" that Rivard made in support of arts funding (I have lost count of how many times I have been sent the link to this hilarious ad on YouTube).
What songs would you nominate?

Update: voting has started! "La complainte du phoque en Alaska" made the list! They have divided it into sections. You can vote once in each section every day until 8pm ET on January 16th.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

2008 in review: a year of first sentences

I stole this idea from
Average Jane. Her end result, however, was much more interesting than mine (I wrote 30 posts in November and all you get is "Happy November!"). I also seem to like starting my posts with very short sentences. And I believe that I wrote about American politics far less than you would think from what you read below.

Anyway, here's my year in review, presented via the first sentence of the first post of each month.

January: I am done

February: I saw the doctor who works with my oncologist on Wednesday.

March: The world lost a major talent yesterday.

April: I have been thinking a lot lately about cancer as a chronic illness.

May: I am not even supposed to know this yet.

June: Meet Lucy (she's the furrier one, on the right).

July: A few years ago, back in what seems another lifetime, I had a co-worker who was driving me crazy.

August: 1. When it comes to John Edwards and his affair, I am just about completely indifferent. Elizabeth, however, remains my hero.

September: Today finds me faced with a dilemma.

October: I have a new post up at MyBreastCancerNetwork.Com. It will also be my last for a while.

November: Happy November!

December: According to a recent article in the New York Times, soon-to-be-Ex-President Bush is trying to ram through some changes to the Code of Federal Regulations before Obama takes office.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

2008 in review: the books i read

We got back last night from a few days visiting family and friends in Toronto. I am happy but wiped out. I always feel this way after the holidays, a couple of weeks of over-indulgence, lots of socializing and the kids home all the time (although Grandma did take 5 year old D. home with her after Christmas. He got to spend a few days alone with his grandmother and T. and I got to SLEEP IN FOUR MORNINGS IN A ROW).

I also wrote and submitted the major assignment for the fiction writing course I've been taking - a 3,300 word outline of a novel (I am feeling very proud of myself but also a little daunted).

It was all great fun (at least most of the time) but didn't leave much time for review and introspection. So I hope you'll all bear with me as I engage in a little of both over the next few days.

I am starting with the easiest thing to review and the task that requires the fewest brain cells - a list of the books I read this year.

I set out to read 56 books, as part of the 888 Challenge. I ended up reading 65 books, which strikes me as unbelievable (and some of them were really big books). Then again, I didn't watch very much TV or knit that much this year. And I do have those days in bed after every chemo treatment.

My eight categories were: mysteries, non-fiction, memoir, Canadian, women authors, early review books and series. I won't bother to sort them by category here, as so many books could fit into more than one category.

The books here are all ones that I read from cover to cover. In general, if I finished a book it means that I liked it. The only time I forced myself to finish a book was when I had committed to review it. I already wrote about my favourite books as part of this book meme.

It is also worth noting that the majority (41) of these books came, at least initially from the public library, although I went on to buy some for myself and others to give as gifts.

I love to talk about books, so please feel free to ask me for more info about any of these. You can also find all the books I have been reading since the beginning of 2007 over at Library Thing. Let me know if I can find you there, too.

Here is the list, in no particular order:

White Corridor: A Peculiar Crimes Unit Mystery by Christopher Fowler

Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance by Barack Obama

The Middle Place by Kelly Corrigan (reviewed here)

Cloud of Bone by Bernice Morgan

Atonement by Ian McEwan

The Girls by Lori Lansens

The Retreat by David Bergen (reviewed here)

Friend of the Devil by Peter Robinson

Tenderness Of Wolves by Stef Penney

Before and After Getting Your Puppy: The Positive Approach to Raising a Happy, Healthy, and Well-Behaved Dog by Dr. Ian Dunbar

The Glass Castle: A Memoir by Jeannette Walls

Forty Words for Sorrow by Giles Blunt

White Teeth by Zadie Smith

Escape from Amsterdam by Barrie Sherwood (reviewed here)

Body Surfing: A Novel by Anita Shreve

Death Message by Mark Billingham

SOUS LES VENTS DE NEPTUNE (Wash This Blood Clean from My Hand) by Fred Vargas

Artists Way 10th Anniversary Edition by Julia Cameron

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott

Life on the Refrigerator Door by Alice Kuipers

The Book Of Negroes by Lawrence Hill (published as Someone Knows My Name outside Canada)

Belly of the Whale by Linda Merlino (Reviewed here)

The Whiskey Rebels: A Novel by David Liss (Reviewed here)

Beneath the Bleeding by Val McDermid

Malice Aforethought by Francis Isles

Stephanie Pearl-McPhee Casts Off: The Yarn Harlot's Guide to the Land of Knitting by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee

My Mother's Daughter: A Memoir by Rona Maynard

Radiance by Shaena Lambert

Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return by Marjane Satrapi

The Chameleon's Shadow by Minette Walters

Looking Down by Frances Fyfield

The Lemur by Benjamin Black (reviewed here)

Too Hot To Handle by Mary Jane Maffini

Things I Learned From Knitting (Whether I Wanted To or Not) by Stephanie Pearl McPhee

Home Girl: Building a Dream House on a Lawless Block by Judith Matloff (reviewed here)

Life Mask by Emma Donoghue

Inheritance Of Loss by Kiran Desai

Unravelled by Robyn Harding

The Deceived by Brett Battles (reviewed here)

Lethal Intent by Quintin Jardine

T Is For Trespass by Sue Grafton

The South Beach Diet by Arthur Agatston (reviewed here)

The House at Sugar Beach: In Search of a Lost African Childhood by Helene Cooper

Bones to Ashes: A Novel by Kathy Reichs

Law of Dreams by Peter Behrens

The Queen of Sleepy Eye by Patti Hill (reviewed here)

The Ghost by Robert Harris

Run by Ann Patchett

Dying to Sin by Stephen Booth

Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within by Natalie Goldberg

Mason-Dixon Knitting Outside the Lines: Patterns, Stories, Pictures, True Confessions, Tricky Bits, Whole New Worlds, and Familiar Ones, Too by Kay Gardiner and Ann Shayne

Dream Chasers by Barbara Fradkin

The Outlander by Gil Adamson

Raven Black by Ann Cleeves

Hell Bent: A Brady Coyne Novel by William G. Tapply (reviewed here)

The Cleaner by Brett Battles

The Ethical Assassin: A Novel by David Liss

No Such Creature by Giles Blunt (reviewed here)

The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon

Affinity by Sarah Waters

Any Given Doomsday by Lori Handeland (reviewed here)

Cold In Hand by John Harvey

Skim by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

The Automatic Detective by A. Lee Martinez

This took up way too much time. It's now Wednesday, two days later than when I started and I have had chemo in between.

I hope somebody finds this to be of at least a little interest.

Maybe I'll go read a book now.