shoebox_dw: (hp snape get off me)
OK! So now that we've established that I vanish from people's thoughts the instant they take their eyes off the page...

Seriously, I'm not particularly bothered. The first and only question was probably going to be 'why do you keep asking for feedback when you manifestly aren't doing anything lately to deserve it?' and then I'd have to pull out the  'awww, pity poor me, I got a cold on my vacation and am sitting here sniffling as we type' card, and nahhh..

So, moving on now.

I did just get back from a weekend in Montreal. Sniffling all the way, but it was still so totally worth it. It was originally supposed to be a four-girls-together deal with Shoemom and the -sisses, but - as usual with our plans - things started crumbling with all the uncanny precision of a mathematical formula. Do we all want to go? Well, if we can't decide on that, maybe we should all stay around here and do something exciting - get tickets to a show, and dinner afterward? Whoops, we've been dithering about seat prices too long, show's out. How about we make appointments for a manicure? Oh, maybe that should happen a bit closer to the assembly...

The rewards of experience: very early on in this process I grabbed my stake and held on to it, through accusations of selfishness, unreasonableness and being anti-family, and the net result was that I spent a fab weekend roaming around drinking mochas in open-air cafes, visiting art museums and eating filet-mignon panini sandwiches, while everybody else...visited the local zoo with the nephews. I'm still debating whether to tell the one sister what a find the cheap little hotel she discovered turned out to be.

Not that I realised this while hiking up to it with my pack on my back, reading the billboard on the club down the way: Hommage a Metallica Aux Alcoholica. Rough translation: Oh, man, what the Hell have I got myself into?

It got better, though. A lot better. If Toronto is the civic equivalent of a marriage - quiet, conscientious, dignified - then Montreal is the random fling; life lived right out to the hilt, scruffy and exuberant and quite incredibly sophisticated. To the Quebecois mind there are just so many more interesting things ahead of caring about details like...oh...wearing a bra, for instance. Beautiful black woman coming down the street towards me at one point, tall, angular, dressed impeccably in a blue business suit with the jacket open to show her tight sweater...like something out of Matisse by way of Gauguin.

You cannot be shocked - or rather you can, but there's no point, because caring about your shock is even further down on the list. So your best bet is to just go with it, to learn to appreciate the myriad ways that joie de vivre is worked into everyday living. I don't know if I could handle it on a continual basis, what with being a deep-dyed Anglo-Saxon and all, but as a weekend fantasia it was splendid. How is it possible that we should ever want to lose a place in which, having purchased a box of chocolates, the salesgirl casually mentions that the boxes are all hand-painted by 'the artist we're currently showing'  - gesturing at the walls, whose abstract prints do indeed match the one on your box?

Thus the weekend, and also some really great chocolate. Thing is, here I am now at home, the last day of the hols, meant to be a space in which I regroup and gear up for the eleventy-billion emails I'm facing tomorrow (at least ten billion of which will be 'Why didn't you handle this incredibly important thing before you left?!?)...and I'm feeling more like I could use another week. I just can't get untracked, somehow. I'm still sniffling, it's gray and drizzly outside, and the apartment's still a bare disorganised mess, and...and...grumblemopegrrrmuffleschmff.

I think I need some more chocolate.

shoebox_dw: (girl w/pearl earring)
...well, mostly sunny anyway. And as I pointed out to[personal profile] shing at the time, walking by the River Avon in the rain isn't a bad thing aesthetically. Think she would've been more impressed had it not also been raining on us at the time, though. So would I, come to that - having perhaps just slightly overdone the socialite wardrobe. The chiffon petals on my sweater were getting really damp. At least the swans kept their distance...

Anyway. As noted, we were in town for the festivities surrounding[personal profile] rj_anderson 's North American book launch, which was a great success. Albeit as far as I can tell she really needs to work on her auteur 'tude, because she insisted on being characteristically down-to-earth and gracious and witty to everyone, which is probably going to backfire big-time when she starts dealing with the movie rights.

For the moment, thought, schwing. The report from the source is here, and has pictures, including the one of the yummy cake, which happened after the equally yummy pizza. My kind of party. One of the blue cake butterflies (they're actually rings) is sitting on my desk beside me as I type; my conscience is hastily laying plans to donate it to one of the little girls in our congregation...while other sections of my brain are looking sceptically at the My Little Pony Happy Meal toy sitting beside it.

On a more adult level, we also had the welcome chance to check out the UK edition - the one actually called Knife, with gorgeous cover design by Brian Froud. It haz shiny!

We also met the author's family, who are...well, the kind of family you'd expect to have produced the author of a modern-day faery story. Right down to the cat Snickers, whose pics do not do justice to her beauty, and who gives the distinct impression of being a walking LOLCat waiting to happen. Just lovely people, all of them - not least because amazingly tolerant of overdressed strangers with impaired social skills scoffing kiddie cake decorations. Then again, at regular intervals one of the actual kids would come racing through the room playing superhero and/or demanding more cake, so I was feeling right at home. In all respects, a great time.

We also had a decent time in Stratford itself - dashes in out of the rain and all - [livejournal.com profile] shing  being the really splendid type of travel companion who responds to 'Hey, let's check out this Inuit art gallery!' with 'OK.' 
They've done a nice job of keeping the place antique but not overly twee, ie. no umpteen pubs called 'The Queen's Legs' or like that. Quite a pleasantly diverse set of shops, really, including one called 'The Chocolate Barr' (which must be mentioned because yes, I can in fact be bought off with smoothie samples), and a couple really decent bookstores [glances over at sale copy of Antonia Fraser's Mary, Queen of Scots now sitting on desk, sighs contentedly].

And above all, I now have a minty-fresh copy of Faery Rebels: Spell Hunter sitting on my desk, with the author's signature in front and my name in the acknowledgements in the back. This was not something that ever would have occurred to me, five years or so ago, hanging around a mall with Rebecca waiting for Kalan Porter to appear; although her having brought choc-chip cookies did give me an inkling that here was someone out of the common...

...yeah, pretty much.
shoebox_dw: (kitty fabulous)
Mom's best friend and her daughter about my age, whom I likewise adore, have gone in with us on a ten-day luxury condo rental on Anna Maria Island. Leaving Dec 22nd, returning Jan5th. This, as you may imagine, has me no end excited.

We haven't had a proper winter getaway vacation in years. The last two of those winters have been a relentless march of gray skies, and snow, and cold, sigh twice and repeat, ad nauseum. In the big city, this effect is magnified almost unbearably by the endless vistas of glass and concrete and steel.
I leave for work each morning in the cold and frozen dark, I come home in the cold and snowy dark, and there is no warm  welcoming surface anywhere. Indoors there is comfort, of course, but always shadowed with the knowledge that you're marooned there. This becomes especially pertinent when you're starving, surrounded by restaurants just a few too many cold minutes away, and all the caff has to offer is egg salad on white.

As you can see, it is imperative that I get away, for the sake of my prose if nothing else. What I really love about this trip is how adult it is. Not so much in terms of 'retirement community' as 'no costumed mice within fifty miles.' We are planning to drive down over the first weekend, and that's about as structured as it gets. At least, it will be if we can stave off the best friend's instinct to feed us every morning, noon, and night. She is Polish, so a firm line will be necessary. (Albeit we are not ruling out Shoemom's favourite white borscht.)

I am so seriously anticipating this vacation, that I am currently living off a diet of rice cakes and water, the better a) to look half-decent in the new bathing suit - something else I haven't given thought to in years! - and b) to take at least a little advantage of the truly astonishing array of American junk food. Specifically, those Dove chocolate-chip cookies I bought last time. Oh, and real key lime pie, can't forget that. It is a good thing the Eucharist does not involve key lime, else we here @ Shoe Central would be seriously considering conversion.

Thing is, I tend to put on weight squarely in my stomach and hips, so these two goals will be locked in perpetual conflict...but where there's a will, there's a way. *munches BBQ-flavoured rice cake with renewed conviction*

Also, there will be long walks among other 'quaint shops', and shell-hunting on the beach, and lying flopped in a beach chair with a good book and/or my iPod. I've bought the latest Patrick McManus and Ladies' No. 1 Detective Agency just for the occasion, not to mention the new Bob & Ray bonanza. Just think, two blissful weeks of nobody having to hear about those two, except the people trapped in the immediate car with me. The fun, she is spreading. 
shoebox_dw: (little mermaid)

I have always loved November. I love all the months of change, really; but there is something about November - the wind and the wild and the wet - that makes rising to the challenge of living a
particularly gallant endeavour.

That said...I will concede that sometimes, after an especially tactless battle, there's no shame in just sitting indoors and watching the challenge swirl past your window for awhile. After all, even the Knights of the Round Table must've paused on occasion to rest the horses.

So thusly here I sit. Cuddled contentedly into a living room that is mine-all-mine at last after last weekend's switchover - Shoemom having finally decided, in the face of six more weeks of Monday Night Football, that retreating to a TV-less space is worth putting up with my stuffies scattered around the public areas. Computer desk over here, cable TV over there, books on the far wall, cats gamboling on the futon; I feel rather like a spoiled yuppie offspring in her playpen, it's all about stimulating the growing mind.
(Meanwhile, I hasten to add, Shoemom is enjoying her own new, determinedly un-stimulating space hugely. For one thing, she hates the colour I chose for the walls, so this is Blank Slate Central for her, design-wise.)

In short, things are so cozy - and my ego purring so loudly - the only thing on my mind is sharing the photos from our last bliss-centric day. Return with me now to the much more tactful beguilements of an October Saturday in Niagara.
Yes...we had joy, we had fun, we had seasons in the sun. But we didn't, y'know, die or anything.

Read (and see) more... )
shoebox_dw: (garfield camera)
So Shoemom and I spent this gorgeous afternoon doing one of our favourite gorgeous-weekend-afternoon things: picking a direction and driving in it.

When we're just feeling a little restless and want a change of scene this is usually north, via Aurora and Newmarket; when we merely want to coo over the wonders of nature and maybe pick a few berries, it's east, through Burlington and Milton. When we really, truly feel the need to replenish our souls and sooth our savage breasts...we head out over the Escarpment, to the sprawling rural community of Pelham, where Shoemom was born and raised on a fruit farm.

As yours truly is fresh off experiencing the worst of modern civilization, in the shape of office superiors whose knowledge of what you actually do is in the direct obverse to how free they feel to criticize you...we opted this aft for c), without hesitation.

Read more... )

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