Friday, January 28, 2011

welcome to my life

Earlier this week, my friend K. sent me an article from the New York Times that was the best piece of journalistic writing on metastatic breast cancer I've ever read. And I've read a lot on this subject.

I cried when I read it (but as I told K., in a good way) because it resonated so deeply with me, juxtaposing the facts and the experiences of women living with cancer that can never be considered cured. I started to highlight the best bits to share with you here but ended up cutting and pasting more than two thirds of the article.

I've decided that it's best not violate copyright or my own ethics and just post the link and ask you to please go read this article:

Thursday, January 27, 2011

least horrified by the worms

Newly elected Alabama Republican Gov. Robert Bentley, speaking on Martin Luther King Day:
"Now I will have to say that, if we don't have the same daddy, we're not brothers and sisters," he told parishioners at a Baptist church in Montgomery Monday shortly after being sworn in. "So anybody here today who has not accepted Jesus Christ as their savior, I'm telling you, you're not my brother and you're not my sister, and I want to be your brother."

From the conservative blog Red State, of which Erickson is editor in chief:
"...once before, our nation was forced to repudiate the Supreme Court with mass bloodshed. We remain steadfast in our belief that this will not be necessary again, but only if those committed to justice do not waiver or compromise, and send a clear and unmistakable signal to their elected officials of what must be necessary to earn our support."

Zoom wrote a post about a guy named Jasper Lawrence "who sells hookworms which he harvests from his own poop." It's really gross but also extremely fascinating.

And I think I'd be more comfortable with Jasper Lawrence than either Robert Bentley or Erick Erickson.

Monday, January 24, 2011

coldest January 24th in recorded history

It was -30C (-22F) or -38C (-37F) with the wind chill when I got up this morning. It was that cold yesterday too. I did go out yesterday but I didn't take a picture.

Zoom did, though.

It had warmed up to a balmy -21C (-6F) by the time I went for my run this afternoon. See the frost on my coat?

This is a very boring post. I wish I had something more interesting to say.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

someone pour me a drink

A couple of months ago, I bought a sports watch at Zellers.* The clerk at the store convinced me to get an in store credit card, so that I could get a twenty-five per cent discount.

Against my better judgment, I agreed.

Fast forward to a couple of weeks later, when the bill arrives. Knowing that store credit cards have usurious interest rates, I pay off the balance in full immediately.

Fast forward to a few weeks after that, when I get another credit card bill, showing that I still owe the full amount plus interest.

Annoyed, I call the credit card company to complain. The woman on the other end of the phone was polite and helpful. She quickly identified the error, fixed it and told me to have a nice day.

Fast forward to a couple of weeks later when I start getting calls phone calls from “credit services.”

Now I'm downright irate. I call the credit card company again. The person with whom I speak this time has no record of my previous phone conversation. When I ask to have my card credited with the amount that I have already paid. He informs that's “not how things work.”

This is how Zellers proposes to resolve the problem:

They will send me a cheque covering the amount that I have paid them. And I will send them a cheque to cover my bill.

Allow me to restate this – Zellers is sending me a cheque for sixty dollars. And I'm expected to mail them a cheque for sixty dollars.

They can't just credit me with the money I've paid. I can't pay them online or over the phone.

Zellers and I have to send each other cheques for the exact same amount, so that they can cross in the mail.

At this point, I inform the agent on the other end of the phone that I want to cancel my card. He says that I have to call another number to do that and that he can't transfer me.

I place that call, cancel my card (“No, I say firmly, I do not want to give the company another chance”) and am then told that I have to call a third number to cancel the insurance on the card.

Nearing hysterics, I call the insurance people and am bluntly told (after being on hold for a while) that the insurance is cancelled automatically when you cancel the card.

My spouse will tell you that I am extremely tolerant (to the point of ridiculousness) of bad service, generally speaking. But this experience left me feeling that someone at Zellers needs to give some thought to getting it's act together.

*For readers out side Canada: Zellers is a large chain (like Walmart or Kmart). The Hudson's Bay Company just sold it to Target.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

cluck, cluck.

The following things have occurred in my recent past. My spouse has moved his office to our house and I have acquired a smart phone and the knowledge/ability to send text messages.

 Now that we are in the same house all day, it's possible that we actually speak less. He works in the attic and when I want to talk to him, instead of picking up the phone to call him, as I used to, I'm more apt to send a text (I'm late to the texting party, I know but I'm making up for lost time with a vengeance).

The following conversation took place this morning, via text message (the blog post in question is the one directly below about last night's dream):

Me: "Can you proof my blog?"

T.: "Sure."

Me: "Thanks!"

T. (a few minutes later): "No typos, that I could see. Just weirdness."

Me: "Do you want to have me committed?"

T.: "Hardly. We need the eggs."

Me: "I don't understand."

T.: "Old joke about a man who thought he was a chicken."

Me: "SNORT."

riddle me this

I had a very vivid dream last night.

Perhaps you can help me understand it.

I was a participant in a "So You Think You Can Dance" type show and it was time for three "girls" (I know I am long past girlhood but that's how it was worded in my dream) to be voted off by the other contestants.

When it came time for the results to be read, I felt absolutely relaxed. I was very confident that I would not be cut - and yet my name was the second one read out. I was voted off the show.

While I was surprised at this, my disappointment was fleeting and almost immediately replaced by relief. Euphoria even. I wondered to myself if I'd been voted off because I was viewed as a threat but mostly I was just happy to get the hell out of there.

All of this had taken place in a doctor's office waiting room and the three of us who had been ousted were expected to leave right away. 

But it was winter and I had lots of gear to put on and then I couldn't find my mittens (this kind of thing happens to me in dreams a lot). I checked in the closet, under chairs and then finally in the bathroom. As I left, after giving up, I noticed that the show's producer (a bland, balding man with a pocket protector) was looking worried.

I quietly asked if I could help with anything and he said, "Not unless you can defuse a bomb."

To which I replied, "Well, actually I can."

When he looked skeptical, I handed him an invisible business card, which he took from me without hesitating. I told him to call the number on it to confirm that I was indeed an undercover agent.

I went to the guest room (yes, there was a guest room. It had a single bed and and a faded bed spread, carpeting and a big closet) to lie down and await the go ahead. I was visualizing defusing the bomb and mentally preparing himself.

A few minutes later, the producer came in a with a younger, heavily made up woman (as though dressed for success in a high end law firm). She was holding a set of rental car keys and said, with disgust, "The number you gave us was for a car dealership."

I was perplexed but determined to sort things out. I gestured towards the cell phone that the man was carrying and dialled the number on the car keys. The phone rang a couple of times and then an automated female voice said, "You are being connected to Leila."

The call was forwarded to Leila's voice mail and I said, "Leila it's Juno. I'm at the studio and there's a bomb here that needs defusing. I need you to get in touch and give the OK."

And then my alarm went off (in real life) and I woke up, very disappointed that I didn't get to defuse the bomb.

I told T. about the dream. He agreed that it was pretty weird. I instructed him to call me Juno all day today.

Armchair psychologists: I leave it to you. What the heck did this dream mean? What am I trying to tell myself?

more yoga for those of us who live with cancer

Do you live in Ottawa? Have you been treated for cancer or are you in treatment now? Can you get to Old Ottawa South on Wednesdays at noon? Maureen Fallis, Director of Surround Circle Yoga, Certified yogaTHRIVE© Teacher has put together what promises to be a great program. I'm excited and planning on participating. Care to join me?

A course specifically designed for people who have an experience with cancer.
Peace, ease, strength and a renewed sense of being human – this was my experience. It must have been the power of yoga at work!” S.B.
yogaThrive© is a therapeutic yoga program that will help improve body mechanics, breathing, ease, flexibility and strength. This 8-week program is designed to work at a physical level providing for immense shifts physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually … which could open the door to even more profound changes throughout the psyche. What begins on one level tends to continue at multiple levels – an absolute necessity for full healing to occur. The change can be fast, even when the stimulus or the input appears slow and steady.
Discover the beauty of yoga ~ feel better-stronger, more relaxed and in more control!
Surround Circle Yoga
15 Aylmer Avenue, Old Ottawa South
Wednesdays 12:00 – 1:15pm

January 19 – March 9, 2011
March 23 – May 11, 2011
$88.00 (HST is included)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

i forgot an important one!

I read it last January and it still haunts me. The characters. The prose. The story. City Of Thieves by David Benioff manages to be devastatingly tragic, powerfully hopeful and sharply funny. It's on the list of my life-time favourites.

Please forgive the hyperbole.

I just can't believe I forgot this book when I wrote up yesterday's list. Set during the first world war and the siege of Leningrad, City of Thieves tells the story of a young Jewish man who, in order to save himself, must find eggs - to be used to make a wedding cake for an officer's daughter - during a time of famine. His companion on this quest is a worldly Russian soldier and aspiring writer. The two men encounter the best and worst of human character and become the most unlikely of friends.

This one is beautiful.

Monday, January 10, 2011

up to my eyeballs in print: my best of 2010

I read a lot of books last year. Seventy-one books, to be precise. And some of them were really big.

These are my favourites. These ten are the ones I think you should read, too.

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel - winner of last year's Man Booker award. I found it slow going at first and then was completely swept up in the life of Thomas Cromwell and the intrigues of life in the court of King Henry the VIII. It's made me want to read a lot more about Henry and the folks who advised and served him.

An Abundance Of Katherines by John Green- my twelve year old rediscovered reading when he found John Green and he begged me to read this book. I reluctantly agreed, not having read much young adult ficiton (or YA, as the kids call it) and then went on to devour this novel and almost everything else this author has written.

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan - the authors alternate the chapters in this book. The title refers to two high school students (one straight, one gay) named Will Grayson. The real star of the book, however, is a gay football player named Tiny who writes and directs a musical of his life story. I loved everything about this book.

by Patchen Barss - This work of non-fiction puts forward the theory that, from the beginning of humanity, pornography has driven technological change. The argument is very persuasively made but it was the author's writing that really captured me. I am not particularly interested in technology and not really interested in porn but I could not put this book down. I kept going back to re-read turns of phrase and often found myself laughing out loud. Several folks got this one for Christmas and I'm not done giving it away.

Water For Elephants by Sara Gruen - This book has been out for a while but I read it with my book club this year. It was kind of a boring meeting because no one had anything critical to say about this beautiful story, told very well. I now want to read everything else the author has written.

Villa Triste by Lucretia Grindle - With a name like that, how could she not become a writer? This book is part murder mystery, part historical novel. I fell in love with the characters in this book and could not stop thinking about them when I had to put the  book down. Set in Italy during the second world war, the book tells the story of several women involved in the Resistance movement, whether by choice or out of necessity.

The Princess of Burundi: A Mystery by Kjell Eriksson - Steig Larsson was not the only Swedish writer. This book had been on my shelf for a few years and I'm not sure why I waited to read it. Darkly funny with a smart mystery and flawed, likeable characters this book held my interest from the very first page. Be warned, the book has little to do with Burundi and quite a bit to do with tropical fish.

The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger - Last summer, I finally found out what the fuss was about. I read this book on holiday, reading during quiet moments and listening to the audiobook when I was out for walks with my dog. It really is a beautiful love story that, in my opinion, never descends to the realm of the schmaltzy. And it stayed with me, which is impressive, given how quicly I read it.

The Devil's Company: A Novel by David Liss - Another brilliant, well-researched historical mystery from David Liss. I love the roguish Benjamin Weaver and the intelligent humour of all these novels. You could go back and start with A Conspiracy of Paper,the first Weaver novel but it really doesn't matter.

This year my goal is to read seventy-two novels (I don't watch a lot of television) and, since reading around here is a family affair, toying with the idea of a family book blog.

What do you say?

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

guest blogging!

I was honoured to be asked to be this week's guest blogger for the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation (the folks who organized my recent makeover).

Let me know what you think. I even like the photo they're using! 

Monday, January 03, 2011

why i love twitter

People often ask what it is I love about Twitter. I tell them how useful it is to get advice and share information - about resources, local business, good things to read, etc. I also love the quick exchanges of ideas, the wit and the humour.

Twitter is fun.

And last week, I found a new reason to love Twitter. Trading. Check out the two exchanges below in which I gained a Canada Reads book from the author and the best quiche that I've ever eaten. Read each conversation from the bottom up (sorry it's so small and blurry - click on each image to make it larger and much easier to read).

Postcript: When I couldn't figure out how to capture and embed Twitter conversations, I turned to Twitter for help. I got several great responses and, in the end a friend who I met via LibraryThing and got to know on Twitter, actually the capturing forming and sent it to me as an email.

The blurriness is my fault but it's thanks to her I got it done.

I love social media.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

happy new year!

In 2010, I:

Made soup.

Started running again and kept at it (in fact, I did the Resolution Run 5K last night before breaking into the wine and fondue).

Started editing my novel. It doesn't really have an ending yet but I don't totally hate what I've written, so that's a start.

Found a writing buddy.

Knit a lot of dish cloths.

Played lots of Scrabble/Lexulous

Had my heartbroken when my dog died.

Went to Florida in the in the summer to get away from a heat wave.

Spent some quality time with girlfriends.

Organized a team for the Run for the Cure, called No Pink for Profit. By run day, we were more than 40 women and we raised more than $20,000.

Fell in love with Twitter.

Finally got a smart phone.

Learned that grief is not a linear process.

Spent a lot of time thinking about community, friends and family. I am very, very lucky.

For 2011, I wish us all love, peace, good health and many wonderful adventures.