1 – I will never get tired of staring at the night sky. A dream goal is to move to a way more rural area (not, like, totally rural, but away from any big cities) and have a skylight in my bedroom. There’s something about staring at the stars, when there are no other lights around, that takes my breath away. I love the sky. So much. (But I love it from the ground, I am way too terrified up in a plane to appreciate the sky while IN the sky. Not for me. Nope.)
2 – I hate wearing shoes. Unless I’m wearing a specific pair of slippers in the house, I would much rather not wear shoes (or socks). I can’t stand having my feet imprisoned! Which is an odd thing for someone who can’t stand feet. (They gross me out. Yucko!) I don’t know why it’s bothering me so much this summer, but I spend way too much time trying to figure out what shoes to wear when I have to go out. Not because of look, but because of how they feel on my feet. I would much rather walk around barefoot if I can. Especially in the back yard, and garden, much to the chagrin of my body, because I’m allergic to the grass and then end up with a rash, or hives on my legs. But it’s worth it to feel grounded. Well, maybe not right before bed. *itch*scratch*itch*GAH!
3 – I have been extremely restless lately. Especially today. I have likened this feeling in the past to a bird rustling its feathers. Nothing holds my attention very long anymore. For example, I thought early this morning that writing this blog post would be a great idea. Five hours later, I’m only just starting the third item on this list – that’s after trying to nap, taking a shower, and playing in the garden (not all in that order.) At lot of this feeling is likely due to the week-long 40C+ weather we’ve had. I’m slowly evolving into a summer season girl, over the winter, but I still cannot stand these humid, no-air, 40C and over days.
4 – I have never known comfort of my soul like I have known with Yoshi. If you follow me on any social media you’ll probably have noticed that 95% of what I post is about Yoshi. I love all my Finnish Lapphunds, past and present, but Yoshi has stood out over them all with how much he helps me with my anxiety, PTSD, and depression.
I had a week off of work at the end of July, and every morning, without fail, Yoshi would use my left arm as a pillow. He would stay there for 30-60 minutes, as I drank my coffee and browsed the internet. Sometimes he would cling to my hand as he drooled all over my arm and slept. It’s a strange thing, but I don’t think I have ever felt anything so comforting as with Yoshi sleeping on my arm. He centres me. He calms me. He’s always with me. If I go upstairs, he follows. If I nap, he’s on the bed napping. When I’m down in the shower, he’s outside the door, laying with his face in the bathroom. When I come home from work, he crawls into my lap and tries to merge his body into mine, while giving me kisses. And then he just rests. If I’m crying, he lets me hold him (of course if I happen to sneeze, or cough he gets the heck outta dodge and runs away.) Yoshi is like a real life plush toy. He calms me. He loves me. And he brings me so much joy.
5 – When I am rich I am going to take care of rescued Capybaras. Well, it’s up there with my dream goal of having a house in the country, with a giant skylight over my bed. Because I’ll also have a nice pool to help my little rescued Capybara swim and enjoy life. I have been in love with these rodents since I first saw one at the Montreal Biodome a billion years ago. And this past summer, two Capys escaped a zoo in Toronto and were on the lam for a month. I love these critters. I follow two of them on Facebook because I am THAT much of a dork. Joejoe the Capybara and Sweetie the Capy. How can you not love them?? I require one. I think Yoshi would like one, too.
6 – I have been listening to the same playlist on my phone for almost two full months. This might not be a big deal to anyone else, but I normal change my music up regularly. I have certain songs I always want to hear, but I love to have my music on shuffle and just see what comes up. I made a playlist of up-beat songs back in June and I have had that playlist on shuffle to and from work, at work, before I fall asleep. Over and over. I’m still not tired of it. Granted, I have removed or added the odd song or two in this time, but for the most part these 23 songs have been my daily soundtrack. I named the playlist Sunshine because it makes me happy. (Artists include: Taylor Swift, DNCE, Justin Timberlake, Walk the Moon, Tegan and Sara, The Lumineers, Fitz & the Tantrums, Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness, Marianas Trench, and many more!)
7 – Obviously there needs to be an update about Jinx’s Garden v2.0! When we last checked in on the garden, it had just been planted. Now it’s a wild beast of a garden!
I have never seen cherry tomato plants grow so big before. They are entangling themselves into the cucumber and melon vines, too! Maybe I’ll have some fun cross pollinated fruits. 😉
We have two melons coming along. One of which you can see in the first image on this post – and that’s from two weeks ago. The melon is much bigger now! I have given away more cucumbers than I have kept for myself, but I do have two on my kitchen counter right now. I am sceptical about the cherry tomatoes though. The plants are HUGE and there are green tomatoes everywhere, but they are certainly taking their time turning red. I have only picked four cherry tomatoes so far this summer. Maybe the plants are just growing TOO much and so they aren’t focusing on ripening the tomatoes they have already grown? Not sure. But this new location for the garden seems to grow plants very well. Woo!
And so ends my Seven Things on a Sunday for August 14, 2016. I almost ran out of Sunday before I got this posted. Until the next random time I post! Toodles, internet!
The Other Alice
by Michelle Harrison
What happens when a tale with real magic, that was supposed to be finished, never was? This is a story about one of those stories . . .
Midge loves riddles, his cat, Twitch, and ? most of all ? stories. Especially because he’s grown up being read to by his sister Alice, a brilliant writer.
When Alice goes missing and a talking cat turns up in her bedroom, Midge searches Alice’s stories for a clue. Soon he discovers that her secret book, The Museum of Unfinished Stories, is much more than just a story. In fact, he finds two of its characters wandering around town.
But every tale has its villains ? and with them leaping off the page, Midge, Gypsy and Piper must use all their wits and cunning to work out how the story ends and find Alice. If they fail, a more sinister finale threatens them all . . . (goodreads.com)
Oh, internet. How can I express how much love I have for this novel? I have all of the feelings but I cannot find the words. So let me first tell you a bit about why I read this book – I read the book because it was written by Michelle Harrison, an author whose books have filled me with such joy and wonder that I need to read EVERY! STORY! SHE! EVER! WRITES! I kid you not.
Her first book was about faeries. If you know me, you know how I feel about faeries. The title even had the word “treasure” in it, and I looooooooove treasure. And the title also had the number 13 in it, and that’s like, my favourite number. And the story captured me fully. As did the next novel, and the next. I was sad when I ran out of Michelle Harrison books to read. I was reading them faster that she was writing them! (Work on that, MH.) Then I found out that a new story was being written, and this story had the name “Alice” in the title, and I looooooove the name Alice because: Alice in Wonderland. So of course I was mega-excited.
And THEN Michelle asked on the facebooks to help name something in her novel. There was a narrowboat in the book that a character lived on and she was trying to name it. I commented with a few brilliant ideas (note this was at the same time the internet named a research ship Boaty McBoatface, so you can get an idea of my brilliance!). I also added one real idea: Elsewhere. Because that word is just everything to me.
Best word/concept/feeling EVER.
And I won the comment poll, or whatever you want to call it. So my name is actually IN this book in the acknowledgements at the end and I am so excited to see my name in print. It’s almost like I wrote the entire novel MYSELF. (Right!?)
So, this new novel (that I totes helped write) is about a girl who vanishes and leaves a story unfinished, and about her brother who is trying to find her and help finish the story. Because scary things are happening, and magical things, and all of the things, and it’s just such a fantastically written story about stories that I never wanted it to end. I wish I had this book in my life when I was 10 years old. I seriously do. It has every element within it that I love dearly. The whimsy and magicalness of it all made me so giddy I was bouncing while reading it at times. I am 40 years old, internet, and I was so giddy about the whimsy in this book that I could not contain my happiness while reading.
I even love the concept of having a Museum of Unfinished Stories. Doesn’t that just sound delicious and delightful? The idea of it just swells around me with possibility!
I pre-ordered a copy of this book myself, but I also received a signed copy from the author because, as I mentioned, I did help write the darned thing. I will be gifting the non-signed copy this month to someone I hope enjoys it as much as I did. Here’s hoping. It was tough to find a hard copy of the book outside of the UK. It seems to be available only as an eBook on Canadian retailer sites, though I got my BOOK from the Book Depository UK shop (which I think was because I am in Canada. If you are in the US I don’t think it lets you order from the UK site?)
I haven’t blogged much at all this year, nor have I read very much (I’m up to 16 books though!), but I wanted to write about The Other Alice because it was a book that my soul needed so badly this summer. It was a perfect weekend escape for me when I needed to find solace in a more imaginative, whimsical space than what real life throws at us. I am now, sadly, out of Michelle Harrison books to read once more. I guess I’ll send her a note to help with the writing of her next novel, since I am obviously a much needed part of her process. 😉
If you love magical middle grade books, with very well developed characters, then I highly recommend you read everything you can get your hands on by Michelle Harrison. Her novels are worth everything.
Every few months I feel the need to take a social media break. I don’t. Not really. I might cut back; and over the last year I have paid a little less attention to the loud, obnoxious, in-your-face, stream of information that the internet throws at you. But sometimes it’s still all too much.
Social media makes it way too easy to cut someone down. Social media makes it way too easy to judge others.
Yep, I judge people. Guess what? So do you. We all judge others. This seems to be a very common bad habit of the human race.
And social media makes bad habits too easy to give into.
I am tired of negativity. I am tired of people who feel the need to diminish someone else’s triumphant proclamation of accomplishment by either one-upping them, or dismissing the accomplishment all together, as not a big deal.
If you ran a kilometre, and are proud of it. BE PROUD.
If you left your house to do an errand, and had to deal with people (socialize! gah!), and you needed to rest when you got home? Be PROUD (and rest!)
Did you finish a book? Are you not an avid reader? Was it a struggle to get through but you wanted to finish it? BE PROUD.
Anything that is difficult for you, and you manage to accomplish, is worth celebrating. Just because something might be easy-peasy to someone else, doesn’t make it less of a big deal to you. Small, simple things that may or may not feel small and simple, can make a huge splash.
So you share these accomplishments, and someone always has to come around and stomp all over your sprouts. Others might think nothing of bursting through the soil to grow and reach for the sunlight, but sometimes you need a little more encouragement to dig through that dirt. And dirt can be heavy.
I am tired of people who can’t comprehend why something they think is simple and obviously a no-brainer might not be simple to someone else. Telling me to “just get up earlier” when I mention how awful I am with mornings, isn’t helping me. I can’t. I am just not a good morning person (rather, a good just waking up person). My brain takes way too long to boot up in the mornings. I joke about it being an accomplishment if I can remember to put on pants before I leave the house, but my reality isn’t too far off that path. I am not a morning person. I never have been, and I doubt I ever will be.
Doing anything that makes a person step out of their comfort zone is an accomplishment. Leaving the house to get groceries isn’t easy for everyone. And yet so many people judge others for finding something difficult they think nothing of.
There are many things I do in my life that are hard for me. I struggle with a lot of things that I don’t tell anyone about. Much of it is internal, and every so often I feel so proud of what I might have just managed to do that I want to shout it to the world – so I do. Others do to. But not everyone gets it. It’s not a cry for attention. It’s not fishing for compliments. (Sure, those people are out there, but it’s not everyone.) Sometimes you just need to tell the world you did something that you didn’t think you could do. Putting it out there in the universe is a way of proving that you did it.
And you know what? You don’t have to care about others. You don’t have to congratulate me because I made it out of the house WEARING PANTS in the morning. You can just IGNORE what I wrote and move on with your life. You don’t need to say “Ha! I ALWAYS wear pants. It’s EASY!” you don’t have to say “That’s stupid, it’s not a huge deal to leave the house with pants on.” You can say “Yay! Cat! I am glad your brain was functioning this morning!” you can just keep scrolling.
You do not have to care one whit about my pants. Just know I feel pretty darn pleased with myself when I accomplish this small feat every day. (I need to work on not leaving the house in my slippers though. But I focus on the more important body coverage first.)
Don’t judge someone because they find something difficult you think is easy. You’re not right just because you can do it and someone else can’t. You’re also not better than the person who thinks what you find easy is hard. It’s likely that something you think difficult is as easy as breathing to that person.
Be proud of what you accomplish, however small. Be bold in your pride over those accomplishments. Ignore those who think you’ve got nothing to be proud of because they feel they are better than you because what you’ve done is easy for them.
We each have our own struggles. We fight our own personal demons. Struggle, fight, overcome. Be proud of yourself. And remember the next time someone writes a post about something they are proud of accomplishing that you think is easy – it’s not easy for everyone. So just shut up with your judgey comments. Keep scrolling. If you can’t say something nice… you know the rest.
Gardening without Jinx around still hurts my heart, though the gardening itself heals me. Last year was the first full summer without Jinx around to help his garden grow. The garden didn’t grow particularly well, and some might say it was the weather; but, I know it was because I didn’t have Jinx looking after it. I did have Yoshi trampling it, and peeing on it. But the coocumbers and tomatoes just didn’t prosper as they had in the past.
A lot of changes happened last summer, one of which was the tearing down of our cabanon (shed) and creating way more space in the yard. The idea I had last year was to move the garden space this year, but we got a very late start (read: this past week) due to weather, and my taking a 6-week class for my publishing certificate which pretty much took up all my weekends between the beginning of May until mid-June.
Shawn also wanted to be part of the gardening process this year, so he’s been helping me dig and move stuff around. We moved the garden to the far corner of the yard. It’s a better place for it I think. Also I should have to deal with way fewer spiders the size of my head to get to the plants. THANK GOODNESS!
We only planted our plants this weekend. I’m about a month behind where I normally am. Other people have gardens that are already sprouting tomatoes and whatnot, but I just have my little sprouts.
Although, one thing I noticed about 2 weeks ago were the sudden appearance of rogue tomato plants amongst the weeds where the garden USED to be.
Look carefully amongst the weeds – do you see all those tiny tomato plants? And MINT! So. Much. Mint. Aside from this area being where the garden WAS, we also dump all our pots of plants and herbs there at the end of the season. I guess the ground has been fertilized enough that these things are starting to grow on their own. I repotted 8 different sprouts, and there are still some in the weeds!
I gave three plants to my neighbour, and replanted four others in the garden. One of the little sprouts didn’t like being dug up and didn’t make it, but that’s ok. I’m the only one in this house (besides Sophie) who eats tomatoes. I don’t know what I would do with 15 or so cherry tomato plants! I am fairly certain that they are all cherry tomatoes because I tend to grow those more often than regular ones. Who knows what will happen though. I might have to set up a tomato stand at the end of my driveway by the end of the summer and sell tomatoes – assuming these all grow and bear fruit!
Now we’ve got the garden pretty much finished. We have coocumbers (right), yellow watermelon (left – and who knows if that will work. Shawn picked that one out!), and four tomato plants in the middle. I still have to plant my radish seeds, and I’ll get to that this week (because: vacation for meeeee!!). I have my little herb bucket again with lemon mint, lemon thyme, and lavender. I replanted a lot of the mint that was growing amongst the weeds, and it seems to be doing well. We’re thinking of adding some pots of flowers around the back of the garden, over the cedar chips. And I need to add a little fencing, or some sort of border to the front and sides of the garden (to keep Mr Bear Paws OUT of the garden. Sigh. YOSHI!!)
Another thing different this year is my attempt at adding flowers to the back yard, too.
About 3 weeks ago I tossed (sort of planted) a bunch of flower seeds in front of the deck. Some of them are starting to grow, a lot were eaten by birds. (Alas.) But while we were out buying herbs and coocumber plants, we picked up some flowers – mostly because I fell head-over-heels in love with these:
By golly, these flowers match my HAIR colour (most of the time). And they look like SUNSETS! They are called Sunrise Rose (so I was close) and they were hanging in a basket over my head at the garden centre and I HAD to know what they were. I bought two plants. One is called Lucious Berry Blend. They look like the sunrise ones, so I don’t know. Either way – gorgeous. I hope they don’t die. I am horrible at keeping plants alive. I need Jinx for that!
I also bought a geranium plant, which is sort of between the flowers and my herb pot. It’s supposed to help keep mosquitos away (ha!), but I also like the scent a lot, and have some essential oil I use and thought, why not have my own plant? Yoshi acts like it’s catnip to him. So we call it Yoshinip.
I don’t know how the garden will fare this summer. We’re late in the game, though the last few autumns have been hot and summer-like, so just maybe we’ll have a nice September harvest. I hope Jinxy is looking down on the garden and sending us his Green Paw magic. I think he’d like this new spot. I think he’d like Yoshi. I think he’d make sure to keep Yoshi OUT of the garden and make sure he doesn’t pee on it. (Sigh, Yoshi.)
My garden will forever be Jinx’s Garden. It will probably always continue to make me both happy and sad. I’d like to add more to the garden next year (raspberry bush!) but this year we were late, so we didn’t make it too fancy. I’ll let you all know when I’m selling my billions of cherry tomatoes though. Say Jinx sent you and I’ll make you a good deal. 😉
Why do we have zoos?
I have been to many a zoo in my lifetime. School trips. Trips with friends. Trips as a kid. Trips as an adult. And though I can recall being excited, “Yay! Going to the zoo!” I also recall feeling awkward once there, watching animals pace in small spaces, or animals who look a little worse-for-wear.
And zoos aren’t something I tend to think about often, or at all. Not even while I am visiting one, and looking at the sleeping creatures on the other side of the glass. Nope. I think, “yay, zoo!” and then I think, “those animals look out of sorts”, and then I just forget about it all.
But zoos have been on my mind recently. Zoos have been in the news for various reasons – births, deaths, escaped R.O.U.S., and so on. And I’m suddenly wondering – why do we even have zoos?
Is it not strange to round up various creatures from all over the world and stick them in one location for humans to come gawk at? We don’t do this for hospitals, senior homes, or jails. We don’t say, “hey! Let’s go look at all the different old people, confined to beds and wheelchairs, today! What fun!” We don’t organize school field trips to jails to ogle the men and women behind bars in their jumpsuits.
So why do we do this with animals? Why do we plunk animals out of their natural habitats and ship them to habitats they are not used to, just so we can look at them?
I get that animals are fascinating. I get that many are endangered. I get people want to be able to study animals, and learn more about them. But do we really need so many zoos? Can we not maybe have a handful of locations, where animals who need to be rehabilitated, or are injured and need to live somewhere safe, can be studied by scientists (and whatnot), and sure people can pay to come see them if they happen to be in the same area. And that money can go towards research about the animals, and to help protect the endangered ones, and for medical help, etc.
Why do we need a safari park in Quebec? Why are we driving around in our cars through fake habitats to look at animals from inside the car? Why are we scaring animals WITH our cars, or possibly hurting them with exhaust fumes?
There’s a place here in Montreal that I have blogged about before called the Ecomuseum. It is a sort of zoo, but they have animals there who cannot be left in the wild, and who are being rehabilitated, and studied. It’s a nice, small place. It’s educational. It’s not the same as a giant zoo with elephants, lions, and so on, in their wrong habitats.
And I don’t have a problem with there being places that can house animals who cannot survive in the wild. Who are being kept in a large enough space that they are safe, and comfortable as they live out their lives. But I am so confused as to why we have this weird fascination with keeping animals in cages so we can spend money to go see them. Isn’t it weird?
Except for Pandas. Honestly, I have no idea how those creatures have managed to survive this long without becoming extinct, because they seem like the dimmest of all creatures ever. Have you watched any of those panda videos that have become viral and pop up on all sorts of websites, and social media sites? HOW HAVE PANDAS SURVIVED THIS LONG!? They need to be kept in captivity because I think they are safer having humans look out for them than leaving them on their own. I think they have survived this long only out of sheer luck – sort of how Harry Potter always seemed to solve the puzzle and survive the ordeals he was put through – LUCK! Not smarts. PURE LUCK!
And I’m pretty sure Yoshi is related to Pandas. I’m not kidding. Finnish Lappandahund YoshiBear.
This is by no means a ranty post about being anti-zoo. I just started thinking about zoos one night while I was having trouble falling asleep (seriously, I could make “Stuff in My Head While I’m Trying to Fall Asleep” a regular feature here) and I was baffled as to why we, as humans, came up with this idea. I guess it’s our stupid ability to feel entitled to owning everything? “Look here! Here is my collection of animals from all over the world! They are MINE! I put them in display cages!” I suppose that’s what the zoo foundation was built upon. But do we really need to collect animals like Pokemon? Or should we turn hospitals, senior homes, jails, and other contained locations of humans, into human zoos?