The Lighthouse

the lighthouse

30 June 2013

From sea to shining sea... Oh Canada


I'm not one for sloppy patriotism. In that regard I am a true Canadian... quiet, even reserved in expressing affection for my country.  There are times I identify more with the country I was born in (the country in which I was born, if that last phrase makes you shiver) or the country of my blood, but when it comes right down to it, I. AM. CANADIAN, and darned proud of it.

So, on this July First, I wish you all a heart-swelling, tall-standing, fireworks-popping day of national pride.  It's Canada Day, eh!

29 June 2013

In which I took the plunge

I dropped in.

I followed expert advice: knock; bring something.

And so I knocked on Mr. and Mrs. Landlord's front door to bring the rent cheque (not the rent check) and a little plate of homemade cookies. With a twinkle in the eye, they invited me in, steeped some tea and we chatted quite comfortably for an hour and a half.

It was lovely!  Do they have stories to tell, my goodness.  They lived in Holland during and just after the War, he on a farm where they had refugee children from the cities, and she in the north of Holland where Canadian soldiers were stationed. I learned about salting pork, putting pine needles around a rhododendron plant (not too many or the plant will burn) and that without refrigeration, meat (or soup for that matter) should be warmed up every day else it goes off.

Turns out dropping in is not scary after all.  I think I'll do it again.

Thanks for the encouragement!

27 June 2013

Trending in a library near you

Another new trend in the Great World of Books: author partnerships.

Examples: James Patterson/Howard Roughan
Janet Evanovich/Lee Goldberg
Douglas Preston/Lincoln Child
Al and JoAnna Lacy

I wouldn't have thought that James Patterson, he of roughly a billion best sellers would find the writing of books so difficult he would need help. I'm tempted to be cynical and say it has to do with more money and faster money. In compliance with my new policy of charity and positive thinking, let's assume it's more about a desire to work with another author long admired, the feeding frenzy of productivity and creativity that comes of brainstorming and cold pizza at three in the morning.

So, who's for it?  I've got ideas aplenty for the next great novel, I just need a partner to help me eat the pizza.

26 June 2013

This rolling stone asks questions


Because of my nomad existence, there are some areas of human relationships that baffle and befuddle me.  We moved so often that we usually didn't take the time to get to know our neighbours. There certainly was no dropping in on each other uninvited.  A close friendship meant we acknowledged each other as we got in and out of the car in the driveway. Bosom buddies actually knew each other's names and might chat in the street as we passed each other during an evening's constitutional.

Mr. and Mrs. Landlord are excellent landlords.  They are kind, thoughtful, and generous.  They also keep telling me they hardly see me (a circumstance of my own design) and that I really must stop in for coffee some day.

Drop in?  How does that work?  I don't know how to drop in.  I phone ahead when I'm about to walk over to the front of the house and knock on their front door to drop off the rent cheque. I don't know if I'm capable of dropping in with the expectation of being given drinks, and maybe even nibblies. What if they happened to be busy scrubbing the bathroom grout and I've caught them in their grubbiest clothes? What if they wanted a quiet afternoon nap but there I am, expecting them to be sociable?

Are you a dropper-inner?  Are there rules to follow?  Is there a neighbourly etiquette I should know about before I go knocking?  How long does one stay? Will the visit be reciprocated? Do I bring something because it's rude to arrive with empty hands?

Such are the questions of a rolling stone.

21 June 2013

Save the apostrophe!

Did you know there is such a thing as The Apostrophe Protection Society?

There was a furor in England recently when a local council proposed abolishing apostrophes from all public signs.  Agree? Disagree?  Apparently people are very passionate in their position on this humble mark of punctuation.

I'm sure we can all think of examples of mistaken uses of the apostrophe, usually to humorous effect. Here is one such:
Resident's refuse to be put in bins.
Residents refuse to be put in bins.


Inappropriate apostrophes are ubiquitous as evidenced on my Facebook newsfeed last weekend:
Happy Fathers Day to all you dad's out there.

There is an argument that apostrophes can add confusion, and as there are already ambiguities in the English language - read (present), read (past), red  - as one example, they are unnecessary.  Context provides the clue as to which word is meant in each instance and therefor punctuation is not necessary.

While I agree with that point, I do also believe that any helps to clarity are useful and valuable.

Another argument for the abolition of the apostrophe is that the apostrophe itself can be confusing - "The boy's photograph was framed." Does that refer to a photo of the boy? A picture the boy owns?

The phrase is ambiguous with or without the punctuation, so again, why not use every help to clarity we have?

It may be that we are drifting toward an ever more simplified system of spelling and punctuation (I shudder every time I see 'drive thru', 'late nite', 'e-z fill-in-the-blank'). I can admit (albeit reluctantly) that is not entirely a negative move. All the same, I would say to all those people who argue we are in an age of the text message: content is as important as speed.

What goes next, once the apostrophe has been jettisoned? The coma? (The Oxford coma is already in jeopardy. That's the one that comes before'and' in a series of comas) Ellipses, braces, semicolons, full stops?  No, I say! Keep 'em all, abuse them if you must, misuse them if you can't help yourself, but by golly, Save the Apostrophe!

19 June 2013

Five days

I am flummoxed.
Flummoxed, I tell you!

How is it possible that after five days away, during which I was not present in my home whatsoever to wreak havoc, the apartment is a disaster zone?  FIMA would hesitate to parachute in supplies.

Ok, perhaps I exaggerate a little; it makes for a better story after all, but honestly, there are piles of... of.... things that need sorting and attending to, and surfaces that need some cleansing attention. The laundry pile has grown into a monster, threatening to escape the hamper which made for a poor night of sleep, let me tell you.

Perhaps we only notice the reproductive habits of Tupperware because it is usually contained in a small space to the proliferation of tops and bottoms of containers is readily evident when the drawer or cupboard no longer closes properly. I'm starting to believe that all possessions have the same propensities, only it takes a while for us to catch on because they have the whole of the house to lay claim to. When you see a thing everyday, you don't really see it anymore. It's only when you see it again after some time apart that you notice Number Five Nephew doesn't slush his ess's anymore, or, in this case, my stuff is taking over my house.

Consider this a declaration of war, Stuff.  You've had five days of attempted rebellion. I hope you enjoyed it, but I'm taking back the territory and making it mine.

Just as soon as I finish my tea.

14 June 2013

The Highway

I am not your rolling wheels – I am the highway.
I am not your carpet ride – I am the sky.

I am not your blowing wind – I am the lightning.
I am not your autumn moon – I am the night… the night.

The lyrics are from I am the highway by Audioslave and will no doubt form part of the soundtrack of this weekend.

I will be taking to the highway very shortly, roadtrippin' to visit with my friend in the tree.

Happy Father's day to all the daddies out there.  To my own dear one: I miss you, Pop.

13 June 2013

Public service announcement: the online music place

I feel it is my duty as a conscientious citizen of the world to alert you to the fact that iTunes is dangerous.  Use it with caution, I beg of you.

It's been mentioned a time or two here that I am having technical difficulties with technology at home. I've been without a personal computer since moving to Lake Town in February. I thought at first I would fade away to virtual nothingness (get it? Virtual?  Haha!) from internet withdrawal.  I've since discovered that it is possible for a body to survive - and even thrive - without a daily dose of surfing and chatting.

One reason it has been possible, is that I upgraded my phone (mobile, no land line) from an ancient flip phone that archaically was able to only place and receive phone calls - and that only if the conversation was less than 10 minutes long because the battery was shot - to one of those high-fangled fancy-dancy smart phones. This thing, I'm sure, if I could just figure out how it works, would be able to command the Mars Probe. (How is it that a smart phone can make you feel so not-smart?)

I'd been resisting the smart phone movement for a very long time, but I am hooked. It has been useful in so many ways, allowing me to stay in touch, connected, and informed. I wouldn't recommend using a phone to write your PhD dissertation, however, as the keyboard is incredibly tiny, leading to plentiful and interesting typos.

One of the features I most especially enjoy about my intelligent phone is that it is many devices in one. It is my calendar, my internet, my note-taker, address book, camera, mp3 player and yes, even my telephone.  One wee drawback is that the music stored on the device has to come through iTunes. And therein lies the rub.

Having set up my very own iTunes account, it is now as simple as tapping on a little circle on the screen in order to purchase one song or an entire album.  I say 'purchase' but it doesn't feel anything like a purchase, because you don't hand over money or a piece of plastic, you just tap the circle and presto! You now have that cool song from that band you totally forgot about from the 90s in your playlist. It's not until you check out the bank balance at the end of the month that you realize all that impulsive tapping adds up, and you now have to eat cereal with water instead of milk until payday.

Rock on.

12 June 2013

The hodge and some podge

It is Fiddlehead season! Have you ever eaten fiddleheads?  Their season is very short, so you have to snatch them when you see them in the store. I hadn't even heard of them until I lived in the Maritimes as a teen. I just had my annual dose this week, sautéed with double smoked bacon until nice and soft. Try them.  Trust me.

Danielle Steel.  Sigh.  Two different people in the last few weeks have asked for my help in their endeavor to read all of Ms. Steel's novels. I'm sending requests all across the province, and I must admit I cringe a little every time I do so. I'm such a snob, and really, I shouldn't be. Clearly she knows what she's doing and has been doing it successfully for a billion years. I get a kick out of her books whenever they cross my path at work because she has a different author photo for each book, and some of them are quite outlandish: ball gowns; windswept beaches; Dalmatian print dresses; Russian sleighs. Her imagination is not limited only to the inside of her books!

I just catalogued a new book titled: The Love shack.  Do you reckon the publisher has never heard of the B-52's?

I know that libraries are unfathomable and mysterious places to much of the public. It's hard for us library-type people to remember that because of how our brains work. We try to be helpful though, and provide signage, so I'm baffled when someone asks me, "Where do you keep the books?' when we've gone out of our way to put them on the shelves in such a way it's clear to see they are books, sitting on shelves right out in the open; or when someone walks all the way around the circulation desk, passing right underneath the "Returns" sign, to leave their large pile of returning books under the "Check Out" sign. We really need to strive for greater transparency!

I've written before - probably too frequently, you're thinking to yourself - about haircuts. Well, in the words of White Snake, here I go again. I just got my hair done for the second time with a stylist who has absolutely changed my life. At least as far as my hair is concerned. I don't fully understand what she's done, but it involves layering and thinning underneath, rather than the outer layer. It results in less volume (I have a lot of stubborn hair) which is such a bonus at all time, but especially in the humidity. For thick hair, this means you don't get the triangle effect of the blunt ends frizzing up and sticking out. It also looked good through every stage of growing out since the first cut four months ago.  Halleluyer!  While we're on the happy topic of haircuts, ladies have you noticed a new approach to cutting hair? I remember back in the day, it used to take for-stinking-ever. The stylist (they were probably called hair cutters then) would cut into your hair by taking down layer by layer from very large clips, carefully measuring against your shoulders for evenness before proceeding to the next layer. For. Ever.  Now they seem to let your hair spill through their fingers and indolently snip now and then with the scissors. Just when you're waiting for them to really get started, voila! Fabulous hair!

One year from today exactly, World Cup 2014 begins in Brazil.  Deutschland!

07 June 2013

Feeling bloggy

The best way for a thing to be invisible is for it to be in plain sight all the time. For example, I check in with the Blogger dashboard nearly every day. One of the features there is a Blogger reading list, which will offer me a snapshot of recent posts from the blogs that I follow.

That nifty feature has been there from the dawn of Blogger time, but since first setting up my list with a small handful of blogs I knew about, way back in the beginning, I haven't really given it a thought, and actually only occasionally check for updates.  What a waste of a good tool!

I am still having computer issues at home - the issue being that I don't have a computer at home. So any blogging I manage to do is in the nooks and crannies of spare moments I can grab while at work (the teeny tiny keyboard on my phone does not lend itself to the verbosity I practice in my writing). That has been limiting not only how often I post on Blogger but also what I read online, too.

I know I'm missing out on a lot of really good stuff!  I'd like to catch up and stay in touch so, dear Reader, if  you happen to be a blogger on Blogger or elsewhere, please drop me a line with the name and address of where you write so I can add you to my list.

05 June 2013

The time has come

The time has come, the Walrus said,
To shake things up for sure
In love -- and life -- and hobbies, too
In attitude and work
And goodbye to complacency
No more to be unsure

Alright, it's a poor attempt at poetry. Lewis Carroll would not be flattered with my riff on The Walrus and the Carpenter. That phrase was going through my mind: the time has come... and I just went with it.

I'm feeling a very strong desire to make changes in my life. I'm feeling antsy about it. I don't know what to do, but the question is always in the back of my mind these days: what should I do?  WHAT?

Clearly I am not going to give up my day job to compose poems.

04 June 2013

The Great Reading Project: update

Status report:

The purpose of the project is to instill some discipline into my reading habits. You see, I've gotten a little lazy lately, in part because it's just so easy to toss a book aside in favour of something more appealing. Working in a library isn't always a good thing!

I have gotten off to a shaky start. I decided my second book from the list would be 'Small island' by Andrea Levy. I'm not enjoying it.

I've already renewed it from the library once. I've barely cracked the first third of the book. I'm hoping it ends up being worth the effort it is costing me so far, but I don't think it will. I don't like two of the three main characters. At all.  How can I bring myself to care what happens to them when they don't appeal to me in the smallest measure?


Are you able to get into a book with unsympathetic characters?

But I shall not give up.  I will persevere and get this Small island thing finished. I will overcome my impulse to give up on it. Like broccoli, I am sure it will be good for me, though I don't appreciate it in the moment.


03 June 2013

Of domestic divas or domestic drudges: in which I rant and reflect

There is a series of articles this week in The Globe and Mail about housework.  Only two installments in, I already have enough fodder to get me going on a good rant. First of all, they're calling housework "feminism's final frontier". They're using words like drudgery, and talk about individualising potential. The women interviewed for the article express rage (one women admits to feeling rage), frustration, and bitterness.

The series is called "Feminism's final frontier. Dirty work: the real toll of domestic drudgery". (By Erin Anderson)

This paragraph caught my attention:
"It would be a mistake to reduce the issue to a squabble over who folds the underwear. The gender gap in unpaid labour has significant implications in policy. It makes no productive sense for a chunk of the country's educated population to be spending disproportionate time on brain-numbing tasks because of their gender. If the family is a factory [as proposed elsewhere in the article] each worker should be performing at his or her best potential."

And this: "Whether or not they work full time and no matter how high their salary, women still get stuck with the crappiest jobs - the ones most likely to require rubber gloves and solvent - as opposed to strolling Loblaws in relative leisure with a latte in one's hand."

It seems that marriage reduces the amount of work a man does around the home, while increases it for women. Having children increases the amount of home labour even more for women.

I so badly want to discount this series as being biased and ridiculous.  I want to say that women are more inclined to looking after the home anyway, that our feminine gifts include nesting and nurturing - which is true!

Yet I can't help but remember overhearing certain squabbles in otherwise happy homes concerning socks dropped on the floor, dishes left in the sink, hours he spends on the computer or in front of the tv while she does laundry at 10 o'clock at night. I myself have been frustrated with bottle caps left on the counter not a foot away from the kitchen garbage can, or male avowals of "I was going to do it..." after I'd waited two days for something to get done then finally did it on my own.

It's true that in most cases, the woman's standards of cleanliness and what passes for a well-kept home are higher than her man's. He's willing to let the bathroom go for one more day in favour of something 'more important' while she would forgo that something else in order to scrub the sink.  He thinks nothing of inviting friends over into the house as it is, but she will dust and vacuum before an old friend comes in for a casual coffee.

If a woman works outside the home, is it fair that she then also has the bulk of the housework to do? Is it important to divide not just the number of chores to be done, but also evaluate the 'grossness' of the tasks? "I do the toilets, so you do the diapers"?

Not being married, I don't really have accurate insight into marital division of domestic responsibilities.  I do know that as a single person, I have to do all the chores on my own. I'm not sharing the laundry or bathroom cleaning or dishwashing with anyone else. So I wonder, are women expecting that being married should reduce the amount of work they have to do around the house?

It seems to me that marriage is full of compromise. Everything from how to celebrate the holidays, how to prepare the perfect lasagna, where to hang the dish towels, toothpaste etiquette, whether to make the bed or fold back the sheets, to who takes out the trash is up for discussion. If each person's contribution to the home and the relationship is weighed and counted, with resentment at any imbalance, there is bound to be dissatisfaction... what were the words?  Oh yes: rage, frustration, bitterness.

Love involves sacrifice and service. I know it's very simplistic and idealistic to suggest that people should suck it up and serve, but perhaps there is something to that approach? Also, I wonder how women, as educated and aware as we are these days, could really believe they can have it all - the thriving career and the perfect family life.

To me, it shows how much time and effort a home really requires. To keep a house clean, warm and welcoming requires more than a few hours a week. Perhaps the trouble isn't that women are relegated to the 'crappy jobs' of family life and that men are ridiculed for their contributions. Perhaps the trouble is that we don't value the daily stuff of family life enough.  Maybe it looks like drudgery to plan and prepare meals every day, or clean the toilet yet again. But what if we teach our children that these are valuable tasks, work that should be respected and appreciated? What if we honoured women for raising children and acknowledged the skill it takes to do so?

However, even if those things were to come to pass, it would still be important for men to pick up their socks!

01 June 2013

The latest in book title formulas

There is a fun new trend in book titles. 

There is a formula to follow. It goes like this:
Name a person or a category of persons.

Follow that by another category of persons or title of function.

Real life examples of actual published books:

The Waterman's daughter
The Juggler's children
The Piano man's daughter
Mrs. Lincoln's dressmaker
Mr. Churchill's secretary

Here are titles of my future books:
The Librarian's optometrist
The Writer's computer repair specialist
The Single girl's meals-on-wheels delivery person
Miss Tess's nephews
Miss Lighthouse's note taker
Tess's lighthouse keeper

How about you?  What books would you write?