Sunday, August 30, 2009

Of skill and skillets

Word of the day: gas-tron-o-my (noun) The art or science of good eating.

This morning, while laying in bed somewhere between dreaming and wakefulness, I started thinking about my ability to cook and how that compares to my beau's cooking talents.

(How's THAT for a wonderfully random thought on a Sunday morning?)

I'm not terrible when it comes to cooking, but I'm by no means a star. I do make a fantastic lasagna and I can make an entire turkey dinner by myself but living on my own has led me to become rather lazy when it comes to my own dinners and pretty much everything I eat goes from freezer to oven/stove top to plate. My main squeeze, on the other hand, is much better in the kitchen and makes sauces from scratch and seasons dishes just right and knows how to do stuff that completely boggles me. Oh, and he has this innate ability to time things just right. I still struggle with this and probably always will.

This used to bother me. I felt almost inadequate because I couldn't match his cooking ability. But this morning, laying in bed, I decided that I'm okay with my rudimentary cooking skills. Sure, I'd like to learn how to better use a knife so I don't lop off the tip of my finger or how to properly braise or poach things or even how to use my slow cooker (which I've had for over a year and is still in the box). But I realized there is no shame in not being a culinary whiz and it's okay to reference recipes for even the most basic dishes and it's even more okay to ask for help.

Besides, I make the most fantastic chocolate chip cookies. He cooks, I bake. It all evens out in the end.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Finally, a use for my hockey knowledge

Word of the day: re-source (noun) A source of supply, support, or aid, esp. one that can be readily drawn upon when needed.

I received a pretty terrific phone call today.

A former classmate/colleague of mine rang me this morning to ask be about Steve Yzerman. That’s right. My love and (what I think is pretty decent) knowledge of hockey has earned me enough of a reputation to be a resource for a quick question or two.

I think that’s pretty awesome.

The question in this case was about Yzerman’s personal history, namely if he had any sordid affairs or wonky illicit behaviour in his past. And I was confident enough in my knowledge to answer that he’s quite an upstanding guy who I’m sure is respected by everyone. I mean really, who DOESN’T love Steve Yzerman? Even if you hate Detroit, even if you hate hockey, even if (like me) you don’t agree with professional NHL players participating in the Olympics (which is for amateur athletes) even though Yzerman is an executive for Team Canada, you have to like this man.

It’s just required.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Letter love

Word of the day: let-ter (noun) A symbol or character that is conventionally used in writing and printing to represent a speech sound and that is part of an alphabet.

I really like the word duvet. When I say it, I like to pronounce it phonetically; you know, "DOVE-et". I also really like the word rejuvenate, although I pronounce it properly.

Why do I like these seemingly unrelated words? Because they both have uv in them.

I like the fact that these words have these two letters. I like the way u and v look beside each other. I like that v is an early shape for the letter u. I like that they have this similar shape. I like that they are both near the end of the alphabet (and, as you know, appear in the alphabet as u-v) and that both are less commonly used letters.

Yes, this is a little random but I'm okay with that.

In my opinion...

Word of the day: o-pin-ion (noun) a personal view, attitude, or appraisal.

As I’ve mentioned before, I read the majority of the news online, with The Globe and Mail serving as my main source of news. I’ll venture to The Toronto Star only for Toronto-based news and, if I’m really bored, to read the sports section and get angry at Damien Cox.

The one thing I dislike most about my online news sources is the reader comments. I try to stay away from them but inevitably I get sucked in to this downward spiral of idiocy, from which I emerge angry and appalled at the widespread stupidity of society.

(Okay, that may be a bit of a sweeping generalization but I’m sticking by it.)

I should clarify that I am all for people having opinions – even if they differ from my own – and I encourage the sharing of opinions in a respectful level-headed manner. But if that “opinion” is really only an insult towards the new source/author of the article/subjects in the article/other people commenting, I really kind of hate the person espousing said “opinion”. And since most reader comments tend to devolve into insults and trash talk, I tend to get more than a little irritated.

(Yes, it’s my own fault because I keep reading the comments, but I’m really trying to wean myself off this horrible, horrible habit.)

That’s not to say that everyone has to be all happy and cheerful and agreeable towards all online news articles. If you don’t like something, then say so. But if the best you can do is “lyn crosby sux” then you’re an idiot and I want to punch you in the face. Not just because it should read “
Lynn Crosbie sucks” but because I want to know why. Explain your position, dammit! I sometimes like to imagine all the wonderful, thought-provoking conversations that could spring up in these reader comment sections if people could just learn the fine art of proper spelling, grammar and elucidation.

However, I think I’m stuck with my generally dumb society. Sigh.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A proud book nerd

Word of the day: want (verb) To feel a need or a desire for; wish for.

I made a grievous error today. A huge mistake. A gigantic blunder.

I went to the bookstore at lunch.

I was strong and managed to escape without buying anything. (Bed bug infestations can put a dent in one’s discretionary income.)

But, my oh my, was I filled with an all-encompassing feeling of WANT. And I didn’t even venture to the children’s/young adult section.

Whenever I go into a bookstore, there are two sections I always have to check out: fantasy and mystery. While in the fantasy section, I didn’t see any new Terry Pratchett books but I did take the time to peruse Nanny Ogg’s Cookbook. (WANT) His next Discworld book, The Unseen Academicals, comes out in hardback in October which means another year before the mass market version is available. (WANT)

Over in the mystery section, I gazed longingly at the Reginald Hill books I still need to round out my collection. An Advancement of Learning, A Killing Kindness and Child’s Play all sat on the shelves, beckoning me to buy. But I was strong (read: slightly broke) and managed to walk away, but not before reading the jacket copy of the latest Hill masterpiece A Cure for All Diseases. It’s currently only in hardback but the mass market version will be released in October. (WANT)

Then I just wandered. Dennis Lehane’s books caught my attention. (WANT) Then I found a Sherlock Holmes book with this amazing cover:


I was also enticed by Gods Behaving Badly, The Gargoyle and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, as well as some classic titles like A Clockwork Orange and 1984. (WANT, WANT, WANT, WANT and WANT)

Oh books, why must I love you so?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Book and magazines and internets, oh my!

Word of the day: en-dur-ance (noun) Lasting quality; duration:

I chose to pursue a career in publishing because of my love for books and magazines. I love reading them, holding them, smelling them (I only smell books, but man, a new book sure smells good!), gazing lovingly at them all lined up on my bookshelves. I will pick them up in bookstores and study their construction, look at the binding and end papers and check the registration and the font choices. I will judge a book by its cover; I have both bought and rejected books based on cover design. I will check a magazine’s page count before reading any content, particularly now that the recession has cut advertiser dollars and consumer magazines depend on advertiser dollars to balance out their editorial content. I dream about one day having a library in a turret of my castle, with floor-to-ceiling shelves, comfy leather club chairs and a sideboard with a decanter of scotch.

I like my books and magazines.

So I get a little annoyed when people outside of the industry tell me the publishing industry is faltering because of online content. Why read a magazine when it’s online? Why buy a book when you can get it digitally? Sure, there are people who will think like this, but I think they are the minority. Today on Masthead I discovered an article that agrees with me; here’s an excerpt:

Still, the flaw in the print person's perspective is in thinking that there is any relation between your print audience and your web audience. There is none. You are not undercutting your print product by publishing a website because the people who you can reach online have almost no overlap with the people who you reach in print. Your print readers don't want your website, and your web audience doesn't. want. your. paper. (or magazine). (There's a small overlap for whom that's not true -- many of whom are the mediavores who read articles like this one.) Audiences are more stratified by media habits than they are united by common interests.

The full article can be found here.

I don’t think books or magazines as printed entities are going anywhere. People are still going to read US Weekly while on the elliptical at the gym (or, if you’re a nerd like me, you’ll read Maclean’s) and are still going to curl up in bed at night with the latest Reginald Hill or Terry Pratchett book. (If you don’t read either of these authors, do so. NOW.)

Despite my love of actual, physical books, I am fascinated by the idea of the Kindle and other such products. While I would never use something like this to replace my stash of fiction (oh, how I love you fiction, genre and otherwise!), I think this would be useful for non-fiction books. My three thoughts: travel books, cookbooks and craft books. If I decided to pack it all in and go backpacking through Europe, I’d love to have a Kindle loaded with all the travel and language books I would need to get through the continent.

I’m also an avid baker and have this vision: a Kindle, loaded with all my favourite cookbooks, enclosed in a protective plastic case that I can hang from the underside of my cupboards so I can have the recipe in front of me, without taking up valuable counter space and when I need to scroll down to the next page, the plastic case will protect the device from my cookie-dough-covered fingers.

As for craft books, I knit and I love my pattern books but they’re not always easy to transport and the binding often keeps them from laying flat so I can read the pattern. Simple solution: all my books are on my Kindle and I can take them with me wherever I go. It would make shopping for yarn, needles and other supplies so much easier.

Even as a book lover, the Kindle would have a place in my life. But I’m still going to buy books – and more bookshelves to accommodate them. I’m going to buy Glamour every month from the friendly gentleman who runs the Gateway News stand at Sherbourne subway station and I’m going to continue to ask my mom to renew my subscription to The Hockey News every Christmas.

I really do think my industry is safe, for a little while at least. But once the baby boomers move off into the sunset and my more tech-savvy generation really starts taking control, who knows how things will change then?

(I do think that newspapers are in trouble. I've never had a newspaper subscription and likely never will, as I just find it more convenient to get my news online. Poor newspapers.)

Monday, August 24, 2009

The simple things

Word of the day: calm (adjective) Freedom from agitation, excitement, or passion; tranquility; serenity.

(Okay, I just have to note that I copied and pasted this definition from and the word "tranquility" was spelled incorrectly. In the definition. From

I'm not going to lie, this bed bug issue has caused me a fair amount of mental and emotional upheaval. I've been stressed, frustrated, angry, defeated, weepy, whiny and especially tired for most of the past week. I have had amazing support from those close to me but there's just something about mini vampires displacing you not only from your home but from where you sleep that weighs on a person.

Tonight, while walking home and mentally preparing myself for another round of Bed Bug Death Match 3000, I passed the school on my street and noticed a little girl playing in the sand. She had perfect curly blonde hair and was wearing a pink t-shirt over jeans and she couldn't have been more than four. And she was just sitting there, sprinkling handfuls of sand over her bare feet and she just looked so...happy. So perfectly content. So at peace, just sitting there, feeling the sand cascade over her feet.

I really can't make this story into any kind of allegory for my life right now. But it just made me calmer.

Better late than never

Word of the day: ig-no-rant (adjective) Lacking in knowledge or training; unlearned.

Sometimes I’m not the quickest on the uptake when it comes to awesomeness.

Sometimes I miss the cool stuff the first time around and need to play catch-up.

Sometimes I want to kick myself for being so oblivious.

I have only just recently discovered the awesomeness that is Firefly/Serenity/Joss Whedon. Over the past three weekends, I have watched all the episodes of Firefly and followed those with a Serenity movie chaser. And as I sat reveling in their excellence, my hatred of Fox grew by more than a little bit.

This was my first foray into anything Joss Whedon has done. (At least I think it is…wait, just informed me he also wrote the screenplay for Toy Story. I have experienced him before!) But Toy Story doesn’t really count because it’s just not on the same level as Firefly and the like. I can freely admit that I avoided both Buffy and Angel, not out of dislike for anyone or anything involved (vampires are cool!) but because I have this thing about liking stuff that is super-popular. The more people gush about how great this is or how amazing that is or how I just HAVE to watch/read/hear/try this single greatest thing in the history of things, the more inclined I am to stay away. (Of course, when I gush about how awesometastic something is and insist you watch/read/hear/try it, you have to listen to me because I have impeccable taste.)

So I missed Buffy. And then it made no sense to watch Angel. And I even skipped over Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, despite the numerous links posted to Facebook and several endorsements from people whose taste I trust. But that is why TV-on-DVD is so wonderful: it’s catch-up time! And it doesn’t hurt that I have someone in my life who can supply me with a steady diet of Joss Whedon until I have caught up. With any luck, by that time there will be more awesomeness from him on TV that I can enjoy in real time. With even more luck, he will create a show for Nathan Fillion, to get him off the travesty that is Castle. Yuck.

P.S. I realize Dollhouse is still on TV, but again I will have to play catch-up. Bah.

P.S.S I love Alan Tudyk.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

...don't let the bed bugs bite

Word of the day: af-ter-math (noun) Something that results or follows from an event, esp. one of a disastrous or unfortunate nature; consequence.

My bed bug ordeal is slowly but surely coming to an end - emphasis on the "slowly". I was fumigated on Friday afternoon and could have been back in my apartment as early as Friday evening (four hours after the fumigation) but I just couldn't do it. I was still more than a little paranoid about the little bastards and whether or not they would still be there. Because I have a most wonderful and supportive boyfriend, I extended my stay at his place but all good things must come to an end and my respite at his bed bug-free, air conditioned abode ended today.

I'm still a little freaked out by the buggers and my wild imagination pictured me coming home to six-foot-tall bugs, ready to rip my head off and drink my spurting blood straight from my neck. Believe it or not, this has not happened yet and I feel is unlikely to happen as I think the poison has killed them, making the fumigation the "surely" part.

As for the slowness of the recovery, I now have to put everything I own through the dryer (20 minutes in the heat will kill any eggs or bugs). All my clothes. And towels. And sheets. And pillows. Everything. When I bagged my stuff in preparation for the extermination, I went through a box of forty blue recycling bags - and had to go to the store to get more. Not all of the bags contain items that will go through the dryer but there are enough. Tonight begins the slow process of dryer-ing.

Despite feeling phantom itches and having an apartment that is in complete disarray, I think I'm pretty much back to normal. Bed bug-proof covers on my mattress and box spring are a big part of that, as I'm pretty confident the little creatures of the night cannot find me to feed on me. How well I sleep tonight will be a big indicator but I'm confident I'll be okay.

Now, I wasn't going to post any pictures of the bed bugs because they are pretty unpleasant but I thought a couple wouldn't hurt:

Okay, so maybe the pictures aren't EXACT representations of bed bugs. But they feed on human blood, hunt during the night, hide during the day and can't survive in sunlight. The biggest difference is I wouldn't poison Christopher Lee.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Goodnight, sleep tight...

Word of the day: ex-ter-mi-nate (verb) To get rid of by destroying; destroy totally; extirpate.

I have today off, due to summer hours at work. While I should be excited about a three-day weekend, I am currently sitting in my apartment, waiting for the exterminator.

Why an exterminator, you may ask? Because I have bed bugs.

That's right, bed bugs.

I'm not going to say much about them because I have spent the past week feeling angry, frustrated, tired and weepy over them so instead I'm going to focus on the good things that come from having bed bugs.

1. Time to clean stuff out
To have my place fumigated I have to empty my closets and all drawers in my bedroom. I then need to put all my clothes, towels, sheets, curtains, pillows, etc. through a hot wash and dry (if they are dirty) or just a hot dryer (if they are clean). The good part is this will give me the chance to purge all the stuff I don't wear/need/want/care about any more. And it will be nice and bed bug-free when I donate it.

2. A scrubbed-out apartment
Of course, I have to do this. But my apartment is about to get the best cleaning it has had since I moved in. While I do clean it regularly, I'm not one to scrub walls regularly. But the walls will be scrubbed, among other things.

3. Better organization
Since I'm emptying all my closets and drawers, I have to put stuff back in after the fumigation. I've been thinking for awhile now that I need to better organize all my junk and especially throw out the crap I don't need. This is forcing my hand for sure, but it will be good in the long run.

That's about all I've got and, trust me, the cons certainly outweigh the pros. I have to find the positive in this though, else I would be spending a lot more time crying on my boyfriend's shoulder. As it is, I've only done that once this week.

Ooh, the exterminator is here and should be at my apartment soon...hurrah!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Taking stock

Word of the day: pa-per (noun) A substance made from wood pulp, rags, straw, or other fibrous material, usually in thin sheets, used to bear writing or printing, for wrapping things, etc.

When reading a magazine, does anyone else ever notice that sometimes the paper stock is suddenly different and then you stop and feel the two different stocks and try and determine how much of the book is on one stock and how much is on the other stock and if it’s just one form or if, say, half of the book is on another stock and you try and guess the weight of the paper and then make up scenarios in your head about why the stock changed and even contemplate writing the magazine to ask why this happened, out of professional curiosity?


It’s just me?


Thursday, August 6, 2009

Why won't we let nature take its course?

Word of the day: co-nun-drum (noun) Anything that puzzles.

Why is it that we’re all so gung-ho to put natural food in our bodies in an effort to be healthy, but we’re so quick to put anything and everything on and in our bodies to maintain an unnatural appearance?

We want our fruit pesticide-free but have no problem injecting Botox into our foreheads to get rid of those pesky (natural) wrinkles.

We want our water to be filtered because tap water is SO EVIL (even though it’s not), but we’re content to use tap water to rinse the dye from our hair because we MUST hide those hideous (yet natural) grey hairs.

We want our meat free of growth hormones yet we latch on to the latest celebrity-endorsed diet to force our bodies to conform to some (unnatural) societal standard of beauty.

Imagine how much better life would be if we could embrace natural on the outside with the same fervour we embrace natural on the inside. Sure, there’s nothing wrong with some mascara or moisturizing your dry elbows but life doesn’t end because you get crow’s feet around your eyes.

(Yes, I will admit to dyeing my hair. I could be covering grey hairs, but I don’t really know because I colour it so often. But I also drink tap water so I figure it all balances out.)

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

On the inside looking in

Word of the day: in-tro-spec-tion (noun) Observation or examination of one's own mental and emotional state, mental processes, etc.; the act of looking within oneself.

I spent the long weekend in Parry Sound, visiting my mom. Three days of swimming, sunburns, Sam Roberts and 4-month-old babies later, I was back in the city in my little apartment, falling asleep to the sound of sirens.

Upon waking, I got all introspective. This happens to me every time I return from the P-dot. Am I happy with where my life has taken me? Sure I am. I made a decision long ago to not regret anything I’ve done because everything I’ve done has helped make me the person I am today. (That’s my Oprah moment for the day. Moving on…) But every time I’m in Parry Sound, I look at how things have/not changed and I can’t help but wonder how my life might have been if I’d made some different decisions.

It should be noted that I’m happy to not be living in Parry Sound. As great as the town can be, I enjoy visiting but also enjoy leaving. But it’s tough sometimes to see my cousins in their beautiful homes, with their families growing around them, living an (apparently) uncomplicated life and it makes me just a little bit jealous.

A lot of this is because of my impeding 30th birthday. No, I don’t have a problem getting older (cause it happens and I can’t stop it, so why get all bothered by it); what weighs on me is how I’m not where I thought I would be when I turned 30 and it’s a little tough to see people younger than me with all the things* I thought I’d have by this point in my life.

*By things, I mean husband, house, kids, dog, and backyard, not the superficial stuff like stainless steel appliances, front-loading washing machines and tricked-out ride-on lawnmowers.

Plenty of people have told me that what I have and what I have accomplished are pretty great and I agree with them. I’m not trying to say that I haven’t done a lot in my almost-30-years. But I look at where I am and then at where I want to be and the two just seem really, REALLY far apart.

I’m sure this wistful longing will pass (only to be renewed at my cousin’s wedding Labour Day weekend) and I will happily settle back into the life/routine I have built for myself in Toronto. I know, too, about all that metaphysical stuff about being happy with what you have and such and I am, really I am; that doesn’t mean that, deep down, I’ll stop longing for all the other stuff in life I really want and am kind of impatient to get.

Fact is, it’s probably easier for me to get stainless steel appliances than it is to get a backyard.