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Seeing things

17 Feb

Do you ever wonder if your kids can actually see things that you can’t? I know Jade’s eyesight is far better than mine, but I’m pretty sure I would spot a fish on our ceiling, or a chicken on our piano. We were sitting together in the rocking chair in the living room, Jade relaxing with a bottle after the walk we had with Nanuq (pleasant at -2° C). We were rocking and Jade would occasionally point to some random spot and tell me there was an animal there. She seems to be getting a bit of a cold again, but I don’t think she’s sick enough to be hallucinating.

I know it’s probably just her imagination and she’s just practicing her words, but I think it’s such a lovely, fanciful idea that children might be able to see things we’ve forgotten how to see.

It reminds me of a book I have on my juvenile fiction bookshelf: Julie, by Cora Taylor (who happens to be a Canadian author). The little girl in the book can see things that others can’t and also develops psychic powers. One of my favourite parts is a scene where Julie points at the autumn leaves falling from a tree and describes them as “dancers”; her family wonders where she could have learned about ballerinas, little knowing that she can actually see fairies flitting about in the foliage. (Apologies for the artless attempt at alliteration — gah! Can’t stop!)

Julie’s abilities turn out to be quite a burden and responsibility for her, and I’m not so sure I’d want Jade to have to deal with that. But the idea does make me feel vaguely nostalgic; I wish I could recapture some of the imagination I know I once had.

Romance, fluff, and other stuff

13 Feb

I can’t quite remember when I first started reading Harlequins; sometime in my late teens, I think.  I had never thought of them as worthy reading material until I saw that they were regular fare for one of my smartest friends.  Oh yes, and I had a roommate who had to read one and analyze it for a university course.  So I gave them a try and they soon became an occasional part of my reading diet, sorta like a literary bag of chips: not much substance, done with quickly, and guiltily satisfying.

The trouble with reading Harlequins is that consuming too many is unhealthy.  Seriously.  One summer I was reading quite a lot of them and I could actually feel my view of the world getting skewed.  I knew that the way relationships are portrayed in these books was completely unrealistic, but I was getting sucked into the idealism.  I decided I’d better leave off the Harlequins if I didn’t want to damage my real-life relationship, and I went back to my staple of children’s literature, which is at least wholesome.

I still occasionally read a romance novel on holidays, though usually ones with a little more substance to them than the Harlequins.  And these days, there’s always some “chick lit” available if a different kind of fluff is called for.  But, just as healthy meal preparation has become more important since Jade started eating with us, reading choices in these times of limited leisure time are also more — I don’t know, what’s the word? — nourishing.

I guess that makes me a bit of a snob, but when faced with scarce resources — and time is certainly that — one must be at least a little picky.  Of course, one of my main sources of reading material these days is not from books at all, but from the 40 or so blogs I’m subscribed to in my feed reader, the majority of which are mommyblogs.  The neat thing about it is the ability to interact with the “characters” I’m reading about, getting to share ideas and to commiserate, which is something I find truly nourishing.  Even when I end up going to bed late after catching up with everyone.

What are your favourite reads?

Late fees

13 Feb

For the first time in my life, I had to renew a library book.  And I still ended up returning it late.  It was due on Friday, but I didn’t finish it until Friday night and just returned it today.  For that blasphemous infraction, I ended up paying a hefty late fee of… 10¢.  Wow, they’re so draconian over there at the library.  I didn’t have a dime, so I gave them a quarter and donated the extra 15¢.  How I love the library!


1 Aug
I went to bed last night at 12:45, after finally finishing the last page of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.  I would have been done by 11:30, but I had an attack of conscience when I went outside to investigate some annoying dog barking and discovered that Norris was painting our house, with neither Michael nor my help.  So I donned my painting clothes and spent an hour finishing up the car port.  Now the front of the house looks decently complete – whew!
So, the last book.  It was great.  I was totally engrossed in the flow of it.
***POTENTIAL SPOILER ALERT***  If you really don’t want to know anything about Deathly Hallows, including whether Harry lives or dies, don’t read any further than this.
So, the last book.  It was great.  I was totally engrossed in the flow of it.  True, there were some long parts and the epilogue was a bit like an extra piece of dessert (not really necessary, but somehow you did still want someting to chew on).  But all in all, J.K. Rowling wrapped up an amazing number of details and revelations in the story, and I could really appreciate how planned out the whole series had to be.*  
The character development in this book was satisfying; it was nice to get to see some redemption and added dimension for Snape, Dudley, and Kreacher without getting too saccharine. 
Since we’d all heard before it’s release that there were some major characters who die in this book, I was worried throughout the story that Rowling would kill off Ron or Hermione (although I was convinced that Harry would pull through, even when I got to the Harry-as-Horcrux bit) so it was a relief to finally find out who lives and who dies. 
But, am I the only one who found the events leading up the Ron and Hermione finally acknowledging their feelings for each other bloody long?  Hmm, perhaps I don’t remember enough about being a teenager.  And Harry seems to get angry (particularly with Dumbledore) with very little provocation, a trait he has displayed since Goblet of Fire, and that I find irksome, but hey, he’s a flawed character, and a teenager to boot, so I can live with that.  At least the final dénouement, from the moment Narcissa lies to Voldemort, to the final battle with its lessons in love and wandlore… is spell-binding.
And whatever happens, in the end, to Kreacher, Cho Chang, Lavender Brown?  Where the heck is Teddy Lupin living, if not with his godfather Harry (his grandmother, perhaps)?  J.K. Rowling promises that there will be an "encyclopedia" down the road, and you can be sure that I’ll be on the lookout for it.  I don’t know if the plan is just to include characters and their backgrounds, or if she’ll also put in sections on wandlore and simple spells; I do hope there’s more, because one of my favourite things about the books is the way she plays with words, particularly in creating the spells.  (Lumos!  Incendio!  Peskipiksi Pesternomi!) 
In the meantime, perhaps I’ll try to find Harry’s two school books: Quidditch Through the Ages, and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.  Hmm, are you getting an inkling that I’m already in withdrawal?
* A total aside: I do remember thinking, when I read Order of the Pheonix that Luna and the Thestrals ought to have been introduced in earlier books, and I wondered if they were later additions to the original plot design.

In an orange box

31 Jul
Those of you who ordered (and received) your Harry Potter books online know what I’m talking about.  It’s here! 

Waiting for Harry Potter

25 Jul
Two years ago, when Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince came out, I took advantage of a offer to pre-order the book and get a discount on the cover price.  Unfortunately, not living close to the 49th parallel, the book wasn’t shipped out until the release date, which meant it wasn’t delivered by Poste Canada Post until more than a week later.  In the meantime, I was taking a trip to Fort Liard to pick up Michael and attend the Petitot Gathering, making it even longer before I was able to get my copy in my hands.  Fortunately, Mike T loaned me his son’s copy, so I was able to read the book before my copy was actually in my hands.
You’d think I’d have learned from that harrowing experience.
Earlier this year, I got a pre-order offer from and thinking about the money I was saving ($22.50 instead of the $45.00 list price — does anyone sell it for the list price?) I went ahead and took the offer.  So now I am once again Harry Potter-less.
Not only that, but I have to avoid potential spoilers from radio, TV (not so hard, since I generally don’t watch TV), newspapers, blogs, and other Internet sources.  Not to mention the potential of overhearing conversations between other HP enthusiasts.  The world is a dangerous place these days.  (Plus, I am so, like, totally behind the times.  And we all know how hard I try to be on the bleeding edge of pop culture…)
So please, if you have read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, don’t talk to me for a couple of weeks; at least, not about the book.  Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go eat my lunch and review The Half-Blood Prince in hollow consolation…