Monday, June 30, 2008


Okay, for the record, I've been a very good writing girl lately, as the shocking state of my house would prove if I dared to post pictures. But there's no ignoring the teetering stack of unread magazines at the table. So I've been carving out bits of time to read them, mostly at meals. And one thing you don't want to read about at a meal in this neck of the woods is people eating bugs.

Though Time magazine would have you think otherwise, and Bryan Walsh sounds awfully persuasive. Check Delay Tactics if you don't believe me. Among the dishes described in this article (which praises bugs as a climate-friendly source of protein) are
batter-fried scorpions
crickets and orzo
water bug and watermelon
tossed salad with moth larvae, ants, and stinkbugs

Yeah, I'd toss that. Bryan describes the larvae as 'meaty' and 'flavorful' but I don't think I could get past the look of them.

Now if you could somehow eat mosquitoes... mmmm, poetic justice.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Scratch that Itch

The two are wired together inseparably in our brains, apparently. Which is both reassuring and depressing for me to hear since between the hayfever and the mosquito bites I'm scratching all the time.

I'm sure that's why I've gone on thinking about an article in The New Yorker this past week about itching. I didn't enjoy the part about the girl who scratched through to her brain, but I'm sure it was even less pleasant for her. The rest of the article is just plain fascinating and I linked it in Delay Tactics.

And now, time for some AfterBite so I can stop scratching and enjoy breakfast...

Saturday, June 28, 2008

S a tur day night!

That's when I get to write, apparently. I was all set to sit down and do that this morning but then I realized that the stack of magazines I haven't yet read was going to fall on me, not to mention the things that were evidently about to sprout legs if I didn't get out the serious cleaning fluids. When half an hour's scrubbing gets you one very small clean area, you know you haven't procrastinated enough.

Friday, June 27, 2008

These shoes were made for...

Yeah, okay, so I didn't buy a wheelbarrow yesterday but I did get a pair of red gardening clogs at Lee Valley and I'm on my way to try 'em out. Today's list:
planting the rest of the plants
moving the garden chairs
spreading the topsoil
spreading the moss seed
rehydrating the mulch in a plastic tub and
tucking everything in with it.

and then maybe I can paint the porch
(except it's supposed to rain all weekend, so maybe I will write instead.)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

How does your garden grow?

If I heard that Mary Mary Quite Contrary thing once growing up, I heard it a zillion times. You'd think it (or the hayfever) would put me off gardening altogether but for some reason: no. And I'm always getting tangled up in knotty problems with it.

See if you can follow today's red string into the maze:
I have to paint the porch (again, just like every year, not that I'm bitter.)
The unfinished garden leaves a not-so-fine layer of grit there daily.
I can't really paint until I have the dirt under wraps.
Plants don't grow fast enough for that: it's gotta be mulch.
Coconut shell mulch may attract fewer mosquito babies than cedar.
The coconut mulch has to be hydrated out of its compression blocks.
You need a big bucket for that, a wheelbarrow being ideal.
I don't have a wheelbarrow. Or space for a wheelbarrow.
Lee Valley Tools sells collapsible wheelbarrows.
Lee Valley Tools sells a loooottta cool stuff for gardens.
Mmmmm, gardens.

Yeah, I'm too generous - the link's in Delay Tactics. Have a great day!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

In perpetuity we glory

Yeah, perpetual writing of this novel - I didn't do any yesterday!

But I did get more of the garden planted, and I discovered too that the mothball plant is not unpopular with other people (I wonder if this is yet another example of everything smelling and looking different to each of us, and none of us being able to articulate that?) AND
it is evergreen.

That's the perpetuity I'm thinking of. Anything evergreen is welcome at my place, because nothing is more depressing in March than a mud garden while you wait for the plants to come up.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Necessity, meet your bouncing baby Invention

Well, this probably isn't as original as all that.

if you get an over the door hook (IKEA sells a very good row of same in brushed metal, barely visible from the front of the door) and hang a shower head organizer from it, you can add space in a closet for all the extra stuff that's cluttering up the horizontal surfaces around it.

And if one of those things is a wet rainhat, hey! the shampoo shelves are perfect for air drying it.

Now as long as I don't look at the rest of the place, which has been producing piles of Stuff over the months I've been working on this book like every word is Miracle Gro for the home, I should be able to make it through the next three weeks or so. Yep, we're in the home stretch, folks!

For this draft, anyway...

Monday, June 23, 2008

the sniff test

If I get a spare second today I will not be putting the new plants I bought yesterday into the ground; we're getting thunderstorms and I am (are you sitting down?) excited to write in any spare moment that might come my way.

However I did make a few discoveries about plant shopping that I'm sure any real gardener already knows:
It's important to check different nurseries because
Impatiens are everywhere, but less-usual plants vary in supply.
Especially if you are filling a lot of space, check prices since
Some plants are a lot cheaper than others but
Make sure you sniff a new plant before you commit! or
You may greet passers-by with mothball-scented flowers
Like I will be doing.

(and now you know why I write prose, not poetry.)

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Dog Day

My neighbour just adopted a new puppy and I am ab-so-fab-lute-ly smitten, which is odd because I am a cat person. Or maybe not odd, because she is a Bichon Poodle puppy, which is to say, smaller than a loaf of bread and a lot more cuddly. When she's all grown up she'll still be smaller than my late cat, and probably a lot more cuddly than her, too.

My cat was a little bitey, truth be told. (okay, a lot bitey, but I loved her anyway, even at 3am when she invariably decided I was a mouse.)

So there you are. I am a cat person, and also a too busy for a pet person, but as a highly skilled procrastinator with just five days to write about 8,000 very good words, I am not above being an interested in Bichon Poodles person who enjoys researching what charming and delightful companions they are.

Why I don't watch movies

Last night, to top off my holiday, I turned on the television and sat down in front of it. This is not something I usually do. But it was a holiday, so I did it, and I flicked around and saw commercials that everybody else has seen a million times and I pitied them because they were pretty lame, and even (in the case of the toilet paper whose primary feature is not getting left behind in bits on one's bum) mildly eyebrow-raising.

Then I paused for a sequence of images so weird and icky it could only form part of a dark comedy - irresistible! - and there I was, caught in the net of what turned out to be Ghost World. How can anybody pass up a chance to watch ScarJo looking dumpy and sounding like some dopey guy in a stupor? No, I admit, the draw was Steve Buscemi. Love that guy.

Anyway I had to see how it all came out (unsatisfyingly, not to print a spoiler on a 7-year-old movie) and stayed up past midnight and that is unwise when the birds wake you before 6 every morning. I will definitely be swapping writing time for a nap today.

Friday, June 20, 2008

la la la vacationland

Note to self: when camping starts to look attractive, it's time for a vacation.

So I'm taking the day off to go out and play, and I might do the same tomorrow (though if I do, 'play' will probably be replaced with 'salvage the garden'.)

I will however leave you with one culinary tip:
If you break an egg on the counter instead of on the side of the bowl, you won't be chewing on eggshell later.

Have a great day!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Organizational Aids

Well, no amount of Airstream floorplans (or almost-not-astronomical pricing on the 25' International model) can blind me to the fact that I am all but literally swimming in paper. I don't know how that stuff gets into the house. You'd think I have a life or something.

But I also don't know how to make it stop, and you know what that means. Feats of organizational genius are in order! When reconfiguring what I already have fails me, as it usually does, I'll be all about IKEA desk accessories, back-of-the-closet-door racks, and locker trimmings and wall-mounted magazine holders from Staples. Shelves might even make the menu this time around.

This is what summer does to me: I turn into a squirrel, scuttling here and there in preparation for the long miserable winter to come. And then I can't figure out why I have to do all the same organizing over again in January.

Maybe I just like to not write for a day... or maybe I'm happier shoveling paper than snow?

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Sock Monkey Research

So cute because...
the button eyes are so googly?
the ears are so round and stripey?
the stripes are so bright and cheerful?
the cow is so happy?

I still don't know, but I am on this story until we have answers.*

*maybe not great answers, but answers.

Home sweet miniHome

Thinking of Airstreams made me think of the miniHome, last year's obsession now new! and improved!

Well, they've added a 12' wide version this year. And it's fabulous, of course. The concept is green architect meets mobile home, complete with bookshelves in the steps up to a dreamy loft (in the Solo model, anyway.) I find I can spend a lot of time drooling over this concept and the possibilities for add-on rooms so I thought I'd share the link in Delay Tactics and see what you guys think.

Now if I just had a piece of property I wanted to park a miniHome on, I'd get right down to the business of buying lottery tickets.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Camper

It's been rainy, so I've been thinking about camping. It always rains when I camp. It's like I have a personal raincloud that follows along the highway, waits till the tent and tarp are up, and then dumps hours' worth of the wet stuff.

That's one reason I shouldn't like camping, and my allergies are another--I have horrible hayfever and though it's not as bad now as it used to be, it's still enough to make camping a misery with or without rain. The list doesn't stop there, it just gets even less interesting.

Maybe what I really like is playing cards and Scrabble?

Anyway I'm thinking about camping, and that means I'm thinking about Airstream trailers, which pretty much means I'm wasting a ton of time looking at Airstream brochures online.

A trailer would be so much more comfortable for playing cards and Scrabble with a runny nose and itchy eyes in the rain, don't you think? Almost as good as staying home in the first place, and better in some ways, because you're camping.


I returned the shoes I didn't need and:
Finished all the editing I'd put off for days
Fixed the 3 chapters I'd been stalled on all week and
Ate 4 fewer fudgsicles than usual.

There couldn't possibly be a connection, could there?

That would be weirder than the Haagen-Daz diet plan.
Which reminds me...

Saturday, June 14, 2008

If the shoe fits

... and it's incredibly comfortable and looks nice, do you keep it? or take it back because you already have another almost identical pair (except they look a lot nicer even if they are less comfortable) plus three more that serve the exact same purpose in different colours and you can only wear any of them for maybe 4 months of the year unless you move to Hawaii?

If you're me, you know the answer to this question:

Keep on thinking about it!

As soon as I finish my editing job. I'm a model freelancer, me. I'm all about the admirable work ethic.

(but they don't look HORrible...)

Friday, June 13, 2008


What is it with sock monkeys and their inexplicable cuteness???

Research pending.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

(Non) Celebrity Playlists

When I'm desperate for new writing (or Not Writing) music, I hunt around in celebrity playlists at iTunes for celebs I don't hate in case they've recommended anything I can live with. Or if I'm feeling catty, I'll check celebs I think are just moronic so I can feel smug about their horrid choices.

My best leads come from Everyman-type playlists though. So today I'm sharing a few of my own current favourites here, in this incredibly non-interactive format, where you will waste even more time flipping to different screens and copying and pasting to hear what these things sound like, assuming they are even new to you.

Big Beat (Touch and Go)
Chasing Pavements (ADELE)
The Most Beautiful Girl in the Room (Flight of the Conchords)
Fever - Adam Freeland Remix (from one of the Verve Remixes)
... and Sing Sing Sing (RSL remix) (ditto the adored Verve Remixes)
... and Soul Sauce (oh, just check out the Verve Remixes)
Hold your Secrets to your Heart (Miracle Fortress)
Time to Pretend (MGMT)
Perpetuum Mobile (Penguin Cafe Orchestra)


Oh, I am a big ol' bag of mixed emotions today:

Freaked out that the Paul Young who sang Toast is the same Paul Young who sang Every Time You Go Away

Concerned that exercise has been found to be critical in maintaining a healthy brain and holding off dementia

Grateful I get a ton of exercise every week

Curious as to how much more exercise it would take to stop misplacing my glasses

Sad about not writing yesterday AT ALL, even after staring at the computer for a long time

Happy it's a gorgeous new day

... in which I can not write by watching Daria (see Delay Tactics.)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Ha! Found it

Forget that weird Bob and Tom Toast Song - Paul Young's is the one I was thinking of this morning. Link's in Delay Tactics if, you know, you have time to kill.


Toast is a word of admirable diversity. I mean, how many other ones can mean everything from You're dead, to Would you like a delicious snack?

My preference is obviously the latter, using really, really good bread, preferably made from scratch by me when I was supposed to be doing something else. LOVE when it's toasted and cooled and buttered lightly and served with tea and some really good chocolate, and typing that makes me think I need to get some seriously good chocolate and even better bread into the house stat, especially since I mysteriously ran out of fudgsicles yesterday. But there are just so many other great options... butter and jam or honey or grape jelly, or just plain with some kind of nut butter. Or, of course, beans or sardines or mashed avocado. Bread or scones or bagels or even croissants... toasted croissants are just a big ol' wow.

Makes me think of that great British band's (cover of the?) song about toast, which I can't seem to find on YouTube... if I do, I'll post it. But first, I might sort out some ingredients for bread. All this heat and humidity is crummy for me, but perfect for proofing dough.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Hot Hot Hot Fudgsicles

Of all the alternatives to air conditioning, and may I cite the practice of putting one's clothes in the freezer before putting them on as one of them, I dare you to top fudgsicles for deliciousness.

Okay, so you have to eat about 10 of them before you cool from the inside, and they don't have the same intriguing weight-loss trigger Haagen-Daz does, but they are fabulous anyway.

DID YOU KNOW (or rather, were you procrastinating hard enough to do a web search and discover) that the popsicle, the father of the fudgsicle, was invented by a kid, in 1905? Frank Epperson was his name, and he lived in San Francisco, where summers have got to be hot enough to make you think of frozen sugar. Frank did his experiments in the winter though, when it was cold enough to freeze his soda pop efforts. No freezers then, see?

Word is that it was an accident, and it took him 18 years to remember and market it, but Frank's unpublished memoirs say otherwise. He worked hard on that baby, only to sell off his rights too soon to make a fortune from it (or to invent the fudgsicle.) Typical, innit?

Saturday, June 7, 2008

A Grand Day Off

I'm off to a conference today, even though I can tell I'm about to be able to write maybe 5,000 really good words after all the research I did yesterday. I know, isn't it weird? Sometimes research just sucks up time, and sometimes it spits out something you can use.

What I need is one of those crazy lightweight laptop thingies people who fly a lot like to buy. You know, just for days like this.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Spending Time to Save Time

One time, my Dad decided to learn acoustic guitar. I don't remember how long he lasted--ten minutes? a whole hour?--before he also decided he needed a footstool to get his knee to the right height to hold up the guitar. I sure remember how long he spent making that. And how long he spent sanding it to perfection before staining it a beautiful reddish brown colour. Then of course he had to improve on the design and his carpentry skills, and make a few others for people who'd admired the first one.

He never learned guitar. But that's okay, because he was a fabulous singer. I am no singer, but I realized this morning that my talent for productive procrastination may be genetic.

Having said that, I will NOT. NOT, I tell you, be acting on the intriguing ideas that occurred to me after watching a 1949 USDA film about efficient kitchen design, which I found when trawling Epicurious for recipes to add to my meal planner, should I ever get around to working on it. Just looking at all the recipes there drove me back to the novel.

But I'm still thinking about that kitchen this morning, and I've linked it in the Delay Tactics list. Just be warned that it might be risky viewing if you know a good carpenter or are one.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Food Glorious (high speed) Food

For quite a while now I've wanted to save time by writing down my weekly schedule and making a list to go with it of every meal I know how to make. This should tell you something about the vastness (or lack thereof) of the meals I know how to make. I'm especially keen to remind myself of meals that can be prepared in advance, eaten cold, and eaten very, very quickly.

Something along the lines of, say, a ham sandwich, but different because you can't have a ham sandwich every single day unless you're that guy who ate only Subway sandwiches a few years back to lose weight. I don't care how well he did weight-wise. That just never seemed healthy to me.

Anyway I need to write about 4,000 meaningful words by, say, Tuesday, and I'm booked all weekend, so this might be the week I do it!

Does steamed asparagus count as a meal? I can steam asparagus like nobody's business. Comments welcome, friends, and if you make none, I will assume the asparagus thing is good.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Research is a Beautiful Thing

They don't teach this trick in Mr. Zippy's Writer School, so I'll spill it here instead: when writing something hard, be sure to include lots of places and times you don't know a thing about. That way you can always read other people's books and still be 'working'.

I did that last night - reading other people's books. Not research! That's something I actually *need* to do, so naturally I'm avoiding that. But sitting and reading for a change was TERRIFIC, not a bit of that 'a' word I'm avoiding.

Today however I noticed that the ice cream diet did not produce its usual thrilling results. Perhaps the key weight loss factor was never sitting down?

Following a hunch, I did a search on the phrase "And then she sat down" in Google Books to see how sitting impacts my writing. (Yes, I'm typing this standing up.) 669 hits! Out of how many scanned books?? I leave you to draw your own conclusions.

The link for the hitlist is in the delay tactics list if you're trying to kill time. My gift to you.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008


Procrastination is so great, isn't it? When you lose interest in whatever distraction project you started, or add too many steps to it to be able to finish, you get bonus guilt and plus side orders of shame and an awareness of wasted effort.

Which is to say:

The transplanted boxwoods out front look dead at the tips and

I'd like to get around to clipping away the very public proof of my gardening inadequacy but

I did too much research on pruners to have made a decision on one yet and

There isn't time to get out there anyway because


Thank goodness it's raining, or the poor plants wouldn't be getting watered at all.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Bags of (so cool) Bags

Note I did not say Awesome, even though they are.

I feel a new bag frenzy coming on since Bazura came out with a new line of woven bags. All their stuff is made in a co-operative from juice boxes, advertising banners, and other things with short lifespans that would otherwise go to landfill and never decompose. It's the indestructibility factor that makes them so amazing for bags: your arm is going to break from carrying two tons of milk plus apples, before the bag will. Also the juice box ones stand open when you put them on the floor - never fall over - and even if they had eyes, they could get wet without batting one.

I have a bunch of sizes of juice box bags for everything from groceries to beach time to treks with paperwork in tow, and I've given one of those or the banner bags to practically everybody I can think of who might enjoy them, but... yeah, I definitely need more things from Bazura.

Their website in the delay tactics list, if you want to check them out for yourself.

Sunday, June 1, 2008


There are some vocabulary trends I keep right out of my life, especially if they're synonymous with "How lovely, dear!" I'm going to type the word 'sweet' now, and that will be the closest I will ever get to uttering it in that context. I say it enough in food-related sentences.

But lately I stumbled into the weedy trench that is 'awesome' and I feel so ashamed. It's not even a hot word anymore! and way way too easy to say over and over, flinging it indiscriminately at people or food or shoes or the freshly polished first 15 pages I wrote yesterday (but not the Sex and the City movie, apparently, unless you were a huge fan of the show in the first place, which includes enough of the population to make a tidy profit, so who cares whether or not it's truly awesome?)

Even 'fab' is less sticky outie than 'awesome.' Must. Go. Back.

Still, it's not as bad as when I was saying "Zowie!" every ten words. You can congratulate yourself on not having had to read my diary in those days.

Incidentally, when you don't see a new post from me here, it's because I'm writing. So give a little cheer every time that happens, okay? I need all the support I can get.