Friday, September 30, 2011

Things I Am Loving. Things I Am Hating.

Loving:
This Post Secret.


Hating:
The fourth season of Castle. We're only two episodes in but, neither of them have sparkled. Also, after three seasons of loving how the writers avoided the trite pitfalls of writing a teenage character, Alexis' new storyline is very disappointing.

Loving:
This cartoon that Nicole mentioned in the comments to yesterday's post.



Hating:
Our seven-year old laptop is dying. We are now faced with the decision to buy an iPad or a new laptop. I hate making these types of decisions. Tell me which one to buy so I don't have to think for myself. We need it for word processing and video watching. We are Mac users.

Loving:
Sherlock.


I've only seen the first episode, but it's brilliant. It's been a long time since I have fallen hard for a show, but this one is spectacular. Which means it's going to start sucking very soon and will then be cancelled. My apologies to Benedict Cumberbatch for ruining his career prospects.


Loving:
The potatoes I grew.
(This is from one plant, I had 10 others that were equally successful)

I don't usually like potatoes, but these ones are great. Next year I'm going to only grow potatoes, peas, spinach, Swiss chard, basil and cilantro because everything else utterly failed.

Hating:
Zarf is very sick. I'm a little bit sick. Stupid cold. Stupid prone-to-get-sick DNA that I passed on to Zarf, whereas Klaxon takes after his father and NEVER gets sick. It's salt in the wound, quite frankly.

Hating:
The thought of October. Mr Wrath will be working night shifts for 18 days straight in October. I want to go curl up in a corner and sob.

Loving:
The audiobooks for the Sofie Metropolis series. They're not high-art, but they're fun to listen to while your folding laundry or making Greek food. I've made A LOT of Greek food these past three weeks.

Loving:
The new Rick Riordan book is coming out next week.

Loving:
The poached egg with salsa on whole wheat toast that I had for breakfast.

Hating:
That Mike Myers named his son Spike. Unless, Mrs Myers delivered a bouncing baby rottweiler -- in which case it is a lovely name.

Loving:
This blind gossip item about a talk show host with a cheating spouse. Could it be Ellen and Portia? Or is it Oprah and Gayle?

What's on your loving/hating list?

• • •

Edited to add at 10:47AM:

Loving: Mary-LUE. And all my other blogging/tweeting buddies.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Cat Calling.

In the past six weeks, we have watched THIS cat:


Become THIS cat:


THIS is now the focal point of the living room:


And we couldn't be happier.

And by we, I mean "the humans in the House of Wrath." The dog is the only hold-out against Osiris' charm offensive:



Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Warp Speed Wednesdays: Of Premiere Episodes.

Last week I asked for suggestions on names for my new weekly Star Trek post. The first suggestion (made by Bibliomama) is wonderful:



Is it immediately apparent that my blog's name is a reference to "The Wrath of Khan?" Does it conjure up images of a crazed mother keen to avenge herself on her enemies by any means possible?, ie marooning them in an underground cave or putting slugs down peoples' ears. This is not the case.  I write with humourous intent. The phrase "Wrath of Mom" was first used by my younger son last November.  He asked to watch the movie and I responded by yelling -- in the manner of Kirk in the header photo -- "Khaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan!" He sighed and deadpanned, "Yea. Like anyone would want to sit through the Wrath of Mom."

And a blog was born.

This will be the 25th post I've written with, at least, a cursory mention of Star Trek. It is also the 24th anniversary of the first broadcast of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

As I type this, I'm watching that premiere episode, Encounter At Farpoint. Even after many years, and many viewings, it's compelling. Picard's anti-Kirk-ness is delicious. Q is terrifying. Riker is a stud. Damn, I forgot Riker was such a handsome guy. But I do prefer him with the beard.


I was fourteen and in grade 9 when it premiered. We were out of town for the weekend and the whole time I was nervous that our ancient VCR would fail to record. Thankfully, it came through for me. For the next seven years, I watched every single episode. By the time it ended -- with the Q-centric finale All Good Things... -- I was 21 and in my third year of university.


In recent years, I've re-watched the series with Zarf and Klaxon. The show stands up. Yes, the decor and outfits are dated, but the storytelling is timeless. The characters are complex and charming. The special effects still impress. The themes (scientific research is noble, good will triumph over evil, practice and value personal accountability, work for the good of others, violence is not the answer) continue to inspire me. And will -- I hope -- inspire the next generation of Trekkies: Zarf and Klaxon. 

Monday, September 26, 2011

Home Time.

We had 28 people over Saturday for a pot luck dinner. It was a great evening. We hung out with friends. People brought us food. We cleaned the house beforehand.

I wish that we could maintain a spotless house just for the sake of cleanliness, but we don't.  We usually only clean when there is the the threat of public censure or a written warning from the health board. Don't misunderstand. We're not pigs. I do make a point of washing and changing the sheets weekly. I'm ruthless when it comes to purging clutter. But I seldom vacuum or sweep more than once a week and with a dog, a cat, two boys AND homeschooling, it needs doing more often. There is also a direct correlation between the cleanliness of my house and the quality of audiobook I have on the ipod.

When I do clean, I want to make sure that the house not only looks clean, but smells clean. It's all about public relations, as far as I'm concerned. So I buy the most pungent smelling products I can find, ie Pinesol. Lately, however, not even the smell of Pinesol can mask the olfactory proof that an old (but beloved) dog lives here. But you know what does a pretty good job of masking the smell? Those Febreze Luminaires. I've mocked them for years, but it turns out they do a pretty good job. Except for one called Agave Waterfall. Don't buy Agave Waterfall. It smells like a truck stop bathroom -- and that is WAAAAAAAAAY worse than old dog stink. But the Green Tea shade is nice. The pomegranate-mango is so pretty I want to lick it. But I won't.

We won't be having anyone over to the house for the next six to eight weeks. We're doing some renovations. Hmm...I'm not sure if renovations is the right phrase. It sounds far too grand for what we're doing. Basically we're fixing up the basement. We're tearing down half the walls and the ceiling in the basement, putting up new walls in a different configuration to accommodate a shower stall downstairs. Again this sounds more grand than it really is, because half of the walls are just cedar panelling nailed over studs with no drywall underneath. Back in the seventies, some previous owner got a really good deal, on a lot of cedar panelling.

This is step one. Step two will be fixing the leaking bathtub surround in the main bath. This is a job that we said would be our number one DIY priority when we bought the house. In 2002. We're pacing ourselves.

Friday, September 23, 2011

People Princess Power To The Rescue. I Hope.

For the past few months I've been trying to track down a movie. Here's the problem: I don't remember when it was made, who stars in it, or its title. Not surprising, I've had no luck with my search.

It's about Andrew Morton, the author of Diana: Her True Story.  It was -- if memory serves, and it probably doesn't -- very interesting. Diana never appears on screen, but we hear her (and I think it's really Diana's voice) via the tapes that she dictated for Andrew Morton's book. There's a bit of intrigue as The Firm uses various methods to thwart publication.

I watched this after Diana's death in 1997, but I don't know when it was made. And I don't know anything about of the actors, except that they have plummy English accents.

Any thoughts? Can you help me? It's driving me bonkers.



Cats, Dogs and the Elephant In The Room.

This is the funniest cat video EVER:



Isn't it cute?

Of course not everyone is a cat lover. Dog people might prefer this clip:


I own both a cat AND a dog, so I can see the charm of both of these.

I bet a lot of people find neither of these videos amusing.  That's okay with me, because contrary to rumour, I am tolerant of dissenting opinions. Especially when it comes to trivial matters like...oh, I dunno: HAIR STYLES! As proof of this fact, I offer up my comments on this post. I don't care if you disagree with me, but please don't tell me that I'm NOT entitled to my opinion.

I don't come across very well in that thread. My attempts to diffuse the tension, with humour, fail. I'm combative and not very succinct. By the end I'm just being downright goofy. But I never deny Marilyn her right to disagree. Contrary to what Marilyn now says on her blog "A Lot of Loves", I never call her a stalker.

After I read her blog post, "I was a Blog Stalker OR Everyone Must Agree All the Time," I felt sort of vindicated, but also confused. On the one hand, Marilyn now validates my belief that dissent and disagreement are a good thing.  On the other hand, Marilyn has cast me as the dogmatic person who won't permit people to disagree.  She's got that wrong, and the comments in the initial thread prove it.

I did block Marilyn on Twitter and Facebook, and I -- sadly -- underestimated her response. It is my right to safeguard my privacy, especially when loved ones express concern about my well-being. Real life trumps virtual reality. The specifics of this decision were communicated to Marilyn yesterday via email.

If you feel -- for whatever reason -- that you no longer wish to communicate with me (via email, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, or your blogs -- egads, when did I become such a social media whore?), I understand. Please let me know in the comment section of this post. I'm sorry you have been placed in the middle of this petty spat -- it was my intention to confine the issue to that single post and to private emails.

I don't want to end this post on a divisive note, instead I'd like to express an opinion/sentiment/theory that I think is universally held...

This photo is really, REALLY disturbing:




Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Something Something Day With Something Something Referencing Star Trek.

About two weeks ago Allison at Bibliomama wrote:
I also kind of want to start doing a regular book review day here, but I'm hobbled by the fact that none of the days of the week has a first letter that is amenable to alliteration with 'book' or 'review'.
This gave me an immense amount of comfort, because I'm facing the same quandary. Although instead of wanting to post book reviews (I would be too embarrassed to admit the low-brow books I usually favour), I want to write a Star Trek post every week. But I can't think of a suitable title and I can't start this series until I have a really, really cool title. The closest I can come up with is Sundays With Spock. But that's lame. Allison is now writing Monday On The Margins posts. I'm green with envy -- that's such a cool title. Can anyone think of an alliterative title for my Star Trek posts? Please.

It can be completely obscure, I don't mind. I'm just looking for a prompt/obligation that will get me blogging on a more regular basis. These aren't going to be particularly deep posts. Most will probably just consist of me playing a game I call "Star Trek, She Wrote" where I try to find six degrees of separation between the guest stars on Murder, She Wrote episodes and Star Trek movies and shows.

For example: The Next Generation's Geordi LaForge (aka Levar Burton) appears in the season 3 Murder, She Wrote episode "Death Takes A Dive."


ONE DEGREE! I win!

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Mane Attraction?

On Friday, I learned two things:
1. I watch a lot of makeover tv shows, and read way too many magazine articles about makeovers,
2. My twitter feed is composed almost exclusively of women who are very fond of their long hair.

These lessons became apparent after I -- in response to someone soliciting input about changing the colour and cut of her hair -- mentioned on The Twitter that I think women over the age of 35 look better with short hair. Actually, I might have set the number at 30 or 40 -- I'm a little fuzzy on the details. I can't check back to consult the original tweet because once I realized the validity of Lesson #2, I deleted the tweet before I could annoy more people.

I hemmed and hawed about writing this blog post. On the one hand I don't want to insult or hurt my Twitter friends, but on the other hand I stand by my opinion. In the end, I decided that it was chicken shit of me to delete the initial tweet, and it's bullshit for me to pretend that I've changed my mind. Hence this:

Women over the age of 35 look better with shorter hair (translation: shoulder length or shorter).

It's not a revolutionary idea. I don't remember any of my mom's friends or my friends' moms having longer hair once they'd passed 30. But the practice seems to have fallen by the wayside in recent years. Maybe it's an off-shoot of our youth-obsessed society? Maybe it's because long hair is an upper class status symbol? Maybe it's because hair dyes and styling products (and the marketing campaigns for these items) make it seem viable to have long healthy hair later in life? Maybe it's because glossy magazines and television shows create the illusion that the average woman can have beautiful, long hair (like Jennifer Aniston) even if she can not afford to employ a hairstylist to do her hair whenever she leaves the house (like Jennifer Aniston)? 

The reality is very different once a woman hits her mid thirties. Her hormones change. Her complexion alters. Her face wrinkles. Her features sag. Her hair gets thinner, drier and wirier. Long hair -- especially if it's not a recent style -- just emphasizes these changes.

Every makeover show I've ever seen (certainly every episode of What Not To Wear) counsels women to cut their hair. Long hair literally and figuratively drags down a woman's features, and defines (not defies) her real age. I seldom see non-celebrity women over the age of 40 who can carry off the kind of long hair Hollywood would have us believe is attainable for mere mortals. But I sure do see a lot of buns, braids and ponytails.

As for me? I'm going to stick with my shaggy bob and will keep doing my best to keep my scalp from playing peek-a-boo with the neighbours.


• • • •

Update added September 25, 2011:
The denouement to this post can be found here.  Thank you.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Détente.



This MIGHT look like photographic proof of my pets' affinity for one another as they while away an autumnal afternoon napping in the kitchen.

But it is really photographic proof that our 80 lb rottweiler-husky is terrified of a 2 lb kitten. Whereas the kitten just wants to cuddle up with his friend the dog and doesn't understand why the dog is quaking in fear.

Obviously the kitten is a terror:


A narcoleptic terror.

• • •
Jedi! Kittens! Squee along with me:



• • • •

Updated, on September 19, 2011.  

I snapped this photo last night:


Is it possible that the dog is starting to trust the cat? Or does this photo merely indicate the dog has lost feeling in her extremities?

Fun With Laundry!

 There's a little game we play at our house -- to the utter dismay of my husband -- called "Guess which is a fitted sheet, and which is a flat sheet?"


SEE? I wasn't lying yesterday when I said I was awesome at folding fitted bed sheets.

Here's the secret to winning at bed sheet origami: first watch this Martha Stewart's instructional video. Next, thank the gods that you are NOT related to or employed by Martha Stewart. Then perfect your technique by practicing on a fitted crib sheet. Progress to twin sheets, then double, and finally queen or king sheets.

And this concludes today's segment of "Things Housewives Do For Fun While Watching Murder, She Wrote and Drinking Vodka." Next time we're going to learn the correct method of photographing and documenting the comings and goings of your neighbour when you suspect she's having an affair! Should be a good episode!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Once Upon a Midnight Dreary.

When my parents left on Tuesday to drive back home, my mom gave the boys a couple of gifts:
- the first season of The Sarah Jane Adventures, aka the gateway drug that will inevitably make my sons Doctor Who fans, and
- a collection of Edgar Allan Poe poems.

The boys were particularly intrigued by the latter. For the past few weeks "Zarf" and "Klaxon" have been watching episodes of Ruby Gloom. One of the characters is a talking raven named Poe, whose brothers are called Edgar and Allan. They asked me to read "The Raven."

I have many strengths. I can fold a fitted sheet so that when someone opens my linen closest they can't tell which are the top sheets and which are the fitted. I can stretch a dollar from here to next Sunday. I'm great at hemming pants. Have a 600 piece Lego set that needs building? I'm your gal! Want a policy and procedure manual drafted for your non-profit organization? I have experience! I have never met a bookshelf that I could not organize so you can find whatever you need in SECONDS. I have freakish upper body strength and can carrying very large packages with ease. I'm up to the challenge of reading aloud a story that requires multiple voices with various regional accents!

But I can not read poetry. I stumble. I stutter. I stymie myself and my listeners.

So like any sane, technologically savvy person, I outsourced the matter to a pro: John De Lancie:


Zarf and Klaxon sat and listened to Mr De Lancie -- known to Trekkies as the omnipotent trickster Q from Star Trek -- in silence. Then we talked. Did the raven really speak? Did the narrator just imagine it? How did Lenore die? Was the reference to Pluto about the god or the dwarf planet (god, in case you are wondering)? What kind of person has a bust of Athena in their study?

I was so pleased with this child-led language lesson, I mentioned it on twitter. Later I noticed someone had responded:


If I tell you that I squealed with joy when I read John De Lancie's tweet, will you think less of me?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A Tail Tale.

My parents came for a visit last week. My father came so he could join us on a backcountry canoeing and camping trip. My mother came to babysit our pets.

My mother is a VERY good person. Obviously. I could hardly blame her if she refused me this favour. After all, the last time I asked her to take care of my cat, was when I moved out of her house and left behind an aged, misanthropic feline. Seven loooooong years later he was still living with her, when he succumbed to a terminal case of living-too-long-itis.

While my mother was at home with my aged, good-natured dog and my spastic, furniture scratching (BUT CUTE) kitten, I was here:




It was a very good trip. I've almost recovered from the motion sickness, that I always get if I'm on the water for more than 20 minutes.  In addition, I've almost recovered from the thrill of FINALLY catching a fish:



This is a northern pikeminnow (though it used to have an unsavoury name that I refuse to use in real life or on my blog) and it's chock-a-block full of bones and pretty much inedible. But still I'm pretty pleased with myself. What can I say? I have low standards.

Monday, September 5, 2011

School Daze.

Tomorrow is the first day of classes for our local school district. Don't tell my kids. They've been doing lessons since the first of the month.

Our year begins with a visit by the Homeschool Fairy, who fills up Zarf and Klaxon's back packs with school supplies, text books, toys, treats, movies and clothes.


We've set a pretty leisurely pace for lessons, easing into the routine with science documentaries, multiplication drills, grammar worksheets, copywork, read-alouds, and star gazing. The biggest detriment to productivity has not been the boys' attitudes (they're quite keen to start up since they've been on summer break since June) or curriculum selection (our material came in weeks ago), but the sorry state of the homeschool room. Until Wednesday morning, I'd forgotten the school room was our de facto junk room.

While cleaning up (and cleaning out), I came across a book my grand-dad gave me at least twenty-five years ago: Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott.




There's no copyright date listed on the title page. At some point a fourteen-year old girl named Joan Henderson practiced her signature on the empty pages at the end of the book. 

The last time I read this book was in 1994, upon returning home from the movie adaptation starring Winona Ryder. I'd gone with a group of friends during winter break from university. I enjoyed it. Right up till Beth died. According to my seatmate, this was not a complete deviation from the source material. But I had no memory of it. I raced home, and checked my copy. Beth was very much alive on the last page of my copy. Only much later did I learn that Little Women was published in two volumes. In addition to there being no publication date on my book, there is no indication there's a sequel.

To this day, I've never read the second part of the narrative. In my head, Beth is still very much alive.