Wednesday, October 19, 2011


So remember that time a few months ago when I wrote this post and was all like, "Blogging is AWSUM and I will never give it up!"?


I may have spoken too soon on that front.

I think I might be done with this blog.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

The Mysteries of Simple Cat


Very recently, the little cat taught me how to play fetch with him. Middle Sister had left a couple of sparkle balls (think pompoms with tinsel) , and little Hob is quite taken with them. One day, I was in the kitchen when he came in with a ball in his mouth, and he dropped it at my feet. I picked it up and tossed it into the dining room, thinking that it would get Hob out of my way. (He gets stepped on in the kitchen at least once a week.)

He tore off after it, and then, to my surprise, he brought it back to me and deposited it at my feet. I threw it again and the same thing happened. And thus, a monster was born--I have to hide the sparkle balls at night or he would want to keep playing. It's ridiculously cute, especially since every once in a while, he will bring the ball to me, and realize as he drops it that it's a sparkle ball and sparkle balls are the most fun ever and then there's five minutes of batting around the ball and chasing it before he finally brings it back to me to throw.

The most interesting thing about the sparkle ball, to me, is that it's made me re-conceptualize how I think about my cat's intelligence. Hob has developed a reputation as "The Simple Cat", largely because he spends a lot of time doing this:


Or getting swallowed by the couch like this:

Simple Cat Is Simple

Here's the thing, though--he's not simple. Our adventures with the sparkle ball have demonstrated a much greater capacity for reason and logic than I would have thought possible. He brought the ball up on to the bed one night (it was about this time that I realized I would need to hide them at night) and accidentally knocked it down the side of the bed, where it fell underneath. He looked at where it had fallen for a few minutes, jumped down, and fished it out from under the bed. A few days later, he knocked it under the stove in the kitchen. Unfortunately, it's too far back for me to fish it out without moving the stove, but every time I go in to the kitchen now, Hob tries to herd me over to the stove, and he shows me how to get the toy out. It never occurred to me that he had that kind of capacity for memory.

He has also taken to putting the sparkle balls in his water dish when I won't or don't play with him. This is fascinating to me because the only other fetching cat I've ever known also did this, although her toy of choice was hair elastics.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

The hands I love

This, believe it or not, is the man I fell in love with:


We met in the spring of 2004, on the steps of the only original 19th century building at The Historic Site Which Shall Not Be Named's Sister Site (a 19th century British naval and military base, in case you're wondering). A mutual friend introduced us. We were fast friends. I had actually been dating someone else for almost two years when we met, and that relationship was in the process of dying.1 My near-instant feelings for Mat complicated things enormously.

(Small "awwww!" and/or nausea-inducing sidebar: A few weeks after we met, we went out for coffee with the friend who introduced us and his girlfriend. After dropping me off at home that night, Mat went back to his house and told his mom he was going to marry me.)

A trip to PEI with my family in 2005. It's amazing we stayed together, especially considering that a) his hair looked that stupid for the whole summer, and b) he had *no idea* who Anne of Green Gables was.

This first year of marriage has been surprising. I had no huge drive to get married--I certainly wasn't against it, but if Mat hadn't been so gung ho on it, it wouldn't have bothered me to stay common-law. That said, I love *being* married; it has brought me an inner peace that I didn't realize I was missing.

Our relationship isn't perfect; we fight, we squabble, we hog the bedclothes, we nitpick at each other. But we are still invested in and committed to each other, and I hope that we can maintain that commitment as we go forth from here.

Happy anniversary, love.

1 For a variety of reasons, including the fact that my ex thought grad school was a dumb idea and that I shouldn't go.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A Weekend Away

The weekend's wedding festivities were lovely, and the trip to Sudbury was exactly what I needed. In addition to getting to see my husband in his kilt (and with his new muttonchops), I got to have dinner with my in-laws, to share drinks with good friends, and to dance to some awesome music. (The DJ played the B52s' "Rock Lobster" without us requesting it. Awesome.)

I had managed to forget that the Sudbury International Film Festival (which goes by Cinefest and not by SIFF, which is probably good) was happening, despite the fact that I have friends on the festival circuit. Once Mat discovered that it was happening, we decided to take in a film the next day. The only one that really worked for our timeline was Billy Bishop Goes to War, a film version of the play, written by Eric Peterson and John Gray. Eric is probably most famous for his roll as Oscar Leroy on Corner Gas.

Billy Bishop Goes to War is one of the most performed plays in North America, but neither Mat nor I had seen it before. The film version is very interesting; it clearly emphasizes the staged-ness of its own performance (it's performed on a very small stage surrounded by a sea of empty seats) at the same time that it uses huge, sweeping shots to emphasized its filmed-ness. Both actors are incredible; Peterson plays 18 different characters, shifting from person to person with only the use of a hat or an accent.

The best part is that Peterson was actually at the screening to do a Q & A session afterwards. It was very interesting to hear him talk about his experiences with the play. He and Gray wrote Billy Bishop when they were in their early 30s; Peterson will turn 65 later this week. He played Bishop extensively in his 30s, revisited him in his 50s, and has now made this film in his 60s, when he is older than Billy Bishop lived to be. What an interesting and unusual experience for an actor to have. The film is profoundly affective and effective--well worth watching.

It was a lovely weekend away with my husband. It's so easy to fall into the same old traps here of always doing the same things, and it's sad to have to go away in order to spend that time with one another, free from the distractions of our lives.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

On the back burner

I've been doing a lot of thinking lately.

Mostly about my future.

When I finished my M.A. year, I was burnt out. Personal and academic stress wore me out that summer. I earned my B.Ed. to please my parents and because I didn't know what else to do with myself. I taught high school after that because I needed a job and I didn't know what else to do with myself. I was then both burnt out and miserable. Somehow, through a series of coincidences and some incredible luck, I came to apply for the job that I have now. This is my fifth year at this job.

Over the years, I've had a lot of questions about my plans for school and when I would be going back to do my Ph.D. For a long time, I couldn't face the idea of returning to school, but eventually I began to soften as I realized that I miss my intellectual pursuits. When I got this job, I thought to myself, "This is the universe speaking. You are meant to go back to school." Some of my friends and colleagues put forth compelling arguments about the experience of graduate school. It all seems so exciting.

But I can't do it.

I love the idea of pursuing a PhD, but I can't commit to the reality of it.

A PhD gets me nothing but the glory of the intellectual pursuit. In my current job, where I am hired at the Instructor level, I don't need a PhD. If I got one, it would make no difference to my employment situation: no raise, no change in responsibilities. If I wanted to pursue a job with a higher status, I would have to give up what I have now--and what I have now is pretty good. I make more than most adjuncts do, with pension and benefits to boot, and I have a decent amount of job security. I've gotten used to making money, to paying back my student loans, to eating decent food, to owning a house. I also have other things to think about: the possibility of having children, for one; travelling, for another.

I would love to do it some day, for its own sake. In the meantime, I have a life to live.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


We went to see Steven Soderbergh's Contagion on Monday night. In the interests of full disclosure, I should admit up front that I was fully prepared to enjoy this movie: the genre of virus films is something that I find eminently satisfying, and this one has a director and cast superior to most.

I like Soderbergh's visual style a lot, and he puts it to good use in this film, conveying both the germ-fueled claustrophobia of the individual characters as well as the vastness of the epidemic itself, particularly as society goes in to decline. The acting is not quite as impressive as you would imagine, given the cast, but those limitations are the result of an unclear plot and lazy storytelling rather than the actors themselves.

The biggest problem with Contagion is that it wants to be several different movies; there are very distinct narrative threads that (I think) are intended to wind together to create a cohesive whole, but the whole falls short of the mark. Characters are dropped from the narrative without explanation as the story progresses; obviously, some have to die from the virus, but others are simply gone. It makes me wonder if some of the story has been lost in editing, particularly with the final scene with Matt Damon's character and his daughter: I understand that it's meant to have an emotional impact, but I don't get why it's supposed to--why does this particular thing matter to his daughter? (I also don't understand why Damon's narrative unfolds the way it does; there is simply no way that the only guy in the world who has demonstrated an immunity to the virus is allowed to go on his merry way by the government.)

I would gladly watch any of the separate narratives as movies: Jude Law's conspiracy theorist blogger, Laurence Fishburne's CDC doctor, Marion Cotillard's WHO doctor, even Matt Damon's heartbroken-but-immune father, but together they don't quite add up.

Bottom Line: Contagion is well worth seeing, just don't expect everything to add up entirely at the end.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

School Is In Session

I am currently on the hunt for a new knitting project.

I spent most of last week working on three shawls. Mat's childhood best friend1 is getting married next weekend, and I had offered to make his fiancée a wedding shawl. She was so excited about the idea she asked me to make two more shawls for her flower girls.2 After a false start on a Swallowtail Shawl, which has gone into the gift basket, I figured out that Annis was a much better choice for this task: it was faster, since it has both short rows and stockingette, and it also has a mini-size, which is perfect for tiny toddler flower girls. Thanks to this flash of knitting genius (with thanks to paperbirch and grrly), I was able to crank out 1 full sized shawl and 2 mini shawlettes in 7 days. Huzzah. Special thanks to Dorian for his help and supervision.



The little one is quite sweet, actually, and might be just the thing for that skein of cashmere silk I've got hanging several months, anyway, when I'm not completely sick of the pattern.

Since finishing the shawls, I've started a test knit of a pair of intricately cabled socks. This pattern is probably one of the hardest things I've ever tried to knit. (Not in a bad, frustrating way, more in a challenging, read-closely-and-pay-attention-to-detail way.) The frequent cables, thin yarn, and tiny needles are also giving my left wrist fits, so I need to find something more relaxing to knit. Big yarn and big needles, and maybe a project that will work up quickly. I'd hoped to start on the first of my fall sweaters, but after careful perusal of both the pattern and my substantially increased waistline, I've come to realize that I will need to go up a size from where I thought I was when I bought the yarn eighteen months ago. Naturally, it's a yarn I purchased at the Knitters' Frolic, so getting more involves finding somewhere to order it from...

The new school year starts today for me, since I don't teach on Mondays this year, and I definitely want to have a project on the go at work.

1 James used to work in the restaurant at THSWSNBN, so I have actually known him longer than I've known Mat.
2 Yes, this conversation happened about a year ago, so obviously I waited until six weeks before the wedding to start working on the shawls. Sigh.