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Ramblings by Category

Ramblings by Year

temperature fascination

As long as I can remember, I have always associated the weather on my birthday with -20-something degrees celcius. I remember frigid walks from home to the bowling alley (or back from) in my teens. We always say stuff like, “Oh, it’s just Cat’s birthday with 40-below temperatures!”

Every time I see a forecast with an above-zero temperature for the 23rd of January, think how odd that is. How abnormal that is. It’s not Birthday Weather with cold so biting that the hairs inside your nose freeze together when you try to breathe!

And yet… I looked up historical weather information for my birthday and see that my frozen birthday memories are… false?

They are predicting a high of 6°C , no precipitation, this year. I feel very weird when the temperature is above zero on my birthday. I always thought the warmest birthday I ever experienced was in 2009 when I went to Disney World. But I was wrong, I suppose. I do believe that was the only time I was able to be coatless & bootless on my birthday though. My birthday is a week away however, so the actual temperatures and weather are subject to change one billionty times between now and then. You can be certain that I will note it down on that day of course.

And because I love to nerd-out over the weather (temperature) records for my birthday, here’s my list!

YearHi Low
1976-26 °C-31 °C
1977-12 °C-16
1978-4 °C-7
1979-6 °C-12
1980-1 °C-13
1981-4 °C-11
1982-2 °C-22
1983-2 °C-5
1984-6°C-13
1985-5°C-11
1986-9°C-16
1987-5°C-17
1988-3°C-13
1989-4°C-12
1990-1°C-10
1991-4°C-18
19921°C-16
19933°C1
1994-16°C-22
1995-2°C-6
19962°C0
19976°C-18
1998-5°C-18
19997°C-2
2000-14°C-23
20010°C-7
20026°C-2
2003-6°C-21
2004-17°C-21
2005-14°C-21
2006-3°C-9
2007-3°C-13
2008-5°C-14
2009-11°C-14
2010-2°C-14
2011-18°C-25
20124°C-13
2013-22°C-27
2014-17°C-23
2015-12°C-14
2016-8°C-13
20170°C-4

As you can see, there are few -20+°C days on here. Perhaps I have memories of the temps WITH windchill added in? All the historical info only gives you the actual highs and lows, not the extra “feels-like” information. Looks like the actual date I was born still holds the record for coldest January 23rd ever here in my neck of the woods.

I’m silly insomuch as I like to know the records highs & lows for dates. I like to know what time it is all the time, and I like to know what the temperature is. I don’t really care about the weather itself – unless I am tracking how much snow we’ve had in a winter

This is likely a very dull post for most of you. I think my mum will find it interesting though. I may have gotten my weather-obsession from her. (Including the “what is the water temperature today?” part from our summers on Lake Champlain!)

Yes, these are things I think about on a regular basis. Which also means I spend, like, an hour looking up historical data on temperatures from my birthdate while sitting on the couch in my pjs. There are likely 1000 more productive things I could be doing with my time, but this is what amused me for the past hour. If you have known me long, and still like being my friend, I thank you for putting up with my quirks and weirdness. You are wonderful people in my life. heh

january thaw

I didn’t realize how suffocated all this snow was making me feel until the thaw that’s happened in the past 36 hours. We are at 10C, with lots of rain, and so much of that snow has vanished. We have streets again. Sidewalks. Like, actual asphalt and cement. Suddenly I find myself breathing easier.

This has been one of the most wintery winters we have had in years. I know this because I always write about my winters on this here blog, or, on FB. (Thanks for being helpful about SOMETHING, FB memories!)  I clearly recall being dumbfounded at the start of December 2006 , while living with my in-laws, by the thunderstorm we had at that time of year (whoa, hey! That was MID-December! My memory is already going and I’m not even 42 yet!). That sort of weather was unheard of around these parts. However, that mild December slowly became the norm. In the past 5 years we’ve even had  some green christmases. UNHEARD OF for my neck of the woods.

Or, at least, they used to be unheard of. Now it’s…the new normal? *insert political sciencey argument here*

Our first winter in this house (2007-2008) had very heavy snowfall. In March 2008 we had snowbanks that towered over my 6’1 husband on his birthday, mid-month. That first winter we did our own driveway clearing by shovel. Never again. We invested in a snow removal company every year since. The following March on the same date, we had green grass, leaves on the tree, and flowers blooming. (though the snow fell again by the end of that month. As it is wont to do.)

Weather, you fickle, fickle beast.

I used to love winter. I am a winter baby. I am (used to be) used to -35C type temperatures around my birthday. It was a tradition. (Weird one to have, but, hey!) As the winter warmed up over the years I have become less of a winter fan, and yet, the milder winters have been harder for me to deal with. I think because it means we tend to have more ICE instead of snow. I can’t handle  ice. I am terrified I am going to fall and break every bone in my body. Or get into a major car accident. Ice is NOT fun, yo.

But this year, we’ve had constant snow since day one of the first official day of Winter. Per some stats I just googled, Montreal has received just under 100cm of snow so far since the first of November.

We have about 15-25cm predicted for tomorrow.

This certainly isn’t our snowiest winter. But it feels a lot closer to the winters of my youth (because I am OLD  and ANCIENT per many of the young adult novels I have read recently.)

This is, however, one of our coldest winters in a looooong time. Those -30C temperatures aren’t generally a December thing. Those are reserved  for mid-January, through February. So all that snow we got didn’t melt. It just got harder, and squeakier. (If you have ever walked on snow when it’s REALLY cold, you’ll understand the Snow Squeak. I don’t know how to explain it to anyone who hasn’t experienced it.)

That squeak isn’t a December sound though. It’s a January/February sound. It was too weird hearing it at Christmas.

But we’ve had rain the past two days. Snow has melted enough that in some places you can see grass peeking out. It’s a brief respite from the muffled, squeaky, hurts-to-breathe-it’s-so-cold winter we have had the past 40+ days.

You know it’s not going to last, but it’s a nice break to have before you start up on your remaining 2+ months of winter.

I needed this thaw, as I am sure so many others did, too.

Especially since I think we’re going to be covered in snow through the month of April. I feel as though that’s how this winter weather is going to go.

It will make me appreciate our 48 hours of spring before summer kicks  in, that’s for sure. What I am not looking forward to is tonight’s drive home from work in the freezing rain. Thankfully I don’t have to go anywhere this weekend. Woo!

 

 

 

tackling Mount TBR in 2018

I tend to hoard books.  I don’t do it on purpose, but it happens. I see a book  I want to read, and  I get it. The past couple of years I have tried to rely more heavily on borrowing books from the library, though it’s  more  difficult  where I live because the number of English books available are  limited.  It’s gotten better at my local  library, but it’s still a limited number.

I tried  to cut down on buying books for a few reasons, one  of  which was the fact that I was NOT reading very much and these books did nothing but exist in piles  all over the house. Why buy a book and then not read it for a year, or longer? This just clutters everything up!

I have a lot of books, but few bookshelves.

This year I would like to focus on the books I own that still need to be read. With the exception of a handful of  books  I know I want to buy this year (not released yet), I am  going to try my best to go through the books I own first. I may not even like some of them,  so they will be crossed off quickly. Some may be my new favourite read! Who knows!? The possibilities are endless!

In fact, I finally got around to reading a book at the end of December that I bought in January 2017 -and loved it SO much, I bought the sequel on the last day of the year. The third book comes out at the beginning of April, so I know that’s on my Need To Buy list. I spent almost one year looking at that first book and wanting to read it, but not wanting to read it. Then I took a chance on it and loved it.

This year I will shop my own shelves. At the time of this blog post I currently have 52 books on my one bookcase waiting to be read. I am sure I have more around the house, but for the most part they are corralled here.

I have also started a sort of bullet/art journal  this year. I will  post about that later on this month. Of everything I added to this journal, I have been the most excited about my book tracking page. I keep track of titles and stuff  over on Goodreads, or the 50 Book Pledge site, but this is something a little  more  fun. I will be colouring in one book for each  one read. I am going to colour code by month. As you can see I have already completed 2 books this month. I drew this earlier in December and have been chomping at the bit to start colouring the books in. This page makes me so happy it’s not even funny. I don’t know how many books I’ll read this year, but I have  100 of them drawn on this page. We’ll see how that goes!

Mostly, I’m simply happy with finding reading enjoyable again. I hope that feeling sticks around.

 

through the thorns, to the stars

There’s not a whole lot in 2017 that I feel I need to look back upon. I’m not the only one who felt it was kind of a bummer of a year, but…

2017 was an interesting year for me. It was a year I needed. To reset myself. The first year in a long time that I didn’t work in an office, instead I went back into retail.

I needed that reset in my life, but I’m ready to move on again. I feel more centred, confident, less willing to take crap, and ready to tackle new challenges.

2017 didn’t end on a high note. All things considered it could have been worse. It wasn’t. I am thankful.

I made decisions this past year that made things better for me. I distanced myself from many things that were drowning me in negativity. I am on social media a lot less than I was. I barely even check twitter. I understand that people have strong opinions about things, especially political, but I chose to block a lot of that out. The world is becoming a little too toxic. You may choose to crusade one way, but I choose a different path.

I spent more time in my craft room this year than I have in the past. Part of this was because I had more time to do so. Part of it was because the crafting helped me in many ways.

I am not hopeful, or rather, full of hope, going into  2018. If I’m being honest I think I lost the ability to be  hopeful years ago. I know that sounds sad, but it’s true. Hope just manages to get you high enough to hurt more when you are let down.

I feel mostly anxious and uncertain as this year begins. I know I want change, but I don’t know what I want to change. I do feel like there is a lot of change to come this year. I am tired of feeling trapped, so this year I want to shake things up and make sure that change does happen.

Work-wise, I don’t particularly want to go back to what I was doing (though I miss the people very much), and I know I am ready to move on from where I am now. Finding a happy-medium in the workforce will be difficult. But I’m ready. I will look. I will try new things.

I want to create more this year as well. I started learning  watercolour painting in November and made all my christmas cards. They aren’t perfect, but I loved every second of that painting. I want to draw and write more, so I started a bullet journal so I can draw my own planner every week. And add colour, or illustrations as I please.

I want to run a 5k this year. FOR REAL. I don’t know when the snow will go away  (I am thinking, late April)  but this year I am feeling ready for this. I have been dreaming about it. Once I dream things repeatedly I know I am ready for it.

I am in this forever search for happiness. There is a lot in my life that makes me happy, but I want that happiness to spread into every part of my life.

I had my year off; a year I so desperately needed. I am reset. I am ready to ignite and restart.

I am going to make 2018 into a year I want it to be. It won’t be easy. It might be very messy, but I want to come out of this year knowing that I didn’t just settle because I had to. There are things I want to happen this year, and I will do my best to make sure they do.

I am 23 days away from turning 42  and I am ready to start this new 365 day story. Let’s do this.

per aspera ad astra
– through the thorns, to the stars

my favourite reads of 2017

I surpassed my reading goal of 50 books this year. As  of writing this post I have read  94. Granted some of those were picture books (early in the year), I did read a lot more than I have in the last couple of years. Less stress, more time, and a  job that reminds  me how much I love books, has helped with this number.

My Goodreads stats tell me:

  • I read 18,723 pages in total.
  • My shortest book was I Need a Hug by Aaron Blabey (24  pages)
  • My longest book was Assassin’s Fate by Robin Hobb (853 pages)

There have been a few books that stood out to me this year. Thought I’d list them here for  posterity’s sake. (And maybe to make it look like I update my blog more than once every 2 months…)

Favourite Fiction Novel

Ginny Moon
by Benjamin Ludwig

Meet Ginny. She’s fourteen, autistic, and has a heart-breaking secret…

Ginny Moon is trying to make sense of a world that just doesn’t seem to add up. After years in foster care, Ginny is in her fourth forever family, finally with parents who will love her. Everyone tells her that she should feel happy, but she has never stopped crafting her Big Secret Plan of Escape.

Because something happened, a long time ago – something that only Ginny knows – and nothing will stop her going back to put it right… (goodreads.com)

You probably all  remember how much love I had for this novel. I still get shivers when I talk about it to another person. I think this is the best book I read all year. Another book came close, but Ginny Moon stood out over all 94 books. This novel is amazing.

Favourite Middle Grade Novel

Let’s Pretend We Never Met
by Melissa Walker

If it were up to Mattie Markham, there would be a law that said your family wasn’t allowed to move in the middle of the school year. After all, sixth grade is hard enough without wondering if you’ll be able to make new friends or worrying that the kids in Pennsylvania won’t like your North Carolina accent.

But when Mattie meets her next-door neighbor and classmate, she begins to think maybe she was silly to fear being the “new girl.” Agnes is like no one Mattie has ever met—she’s curious, hilarious, smart, and makes up the best games. If winter break is anything to go by, the rest of the school year should be a breeze.

Only it isn’t, because when vacation ends and school starts, Mattie realizes something: At school Agnes is known as the weird girl who no one likes. All Mattie wants is to fit in (okay, and maybe be a little popular too), but is that worth ending her friendship with Agnes? (goodreads.com)

I read a lot of fantastic MG novels this year, although Let’s Pretend We Never Met stands out over the rest. I don’t normally like contemporary novels, but Melissa Walker has a knack for aiming straight to my heart with her writing. It’s certainly something when a story can make me cry, and it doesn’t have to do with an animal. This story is a wonderful one about the struggles of friendship and growing up. It’s honest, funny, and well-crafted.

Favourite YA Fantasy

The Hazel Wood
by Melissa Albert

Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the uncanny bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a cult-classic book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate, the Hazel Wood, Alice learns how bad her luck can really get: Her mother is stolen away?by a figure who claims to come from the Hinterland, the cruel supernatural world where her grandmother’s stories are set. Alice’s only lead is the message her mother left behind: “Stay away from the Hazel Wood.”

Alice has long steered clear of her grandmother’s cultish fans. But now she has no choice but to ally with classmate Ellery Finch, a Hinterland superfan who may have his own reasons for wanting to help her. To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother’s tales began?and where she might find out how her own story went so wrong. (goodreads.com)

This book comes out at the end of January but I had the opportunity to read an advance copy of it through work. The story is a dark, folk-tale that had me holding my breath through the entire read. It has twists and turns I was not expecting. I cannot wait to buy it when it comes out. As I read the novel, I kept thinking of another dark, folk-tale I loved, Uprooted by Naomi Novik. Although this particular book is YA, and Novik’s book is classified as Fantasy (adult), I still think people who read Uprooted would enjoy The Hazel Wood.

Favourite Sci-Fi / Dystopian (adult/YA)

Red Rising (book 1)
by Pierce Brown

Darrow is a Red, a member of the lowest caste in the color-coded society of the future. Like his fellow Reds, he works all day, believing that he and his people are making the surface of Mars livable for future generations.

Yet he spends his life willingly, knowing that his blood and sweat will one day result in a better world for his children.

But Darrow and his kind have been betrayed. Soon he discovers that humanity already reached the surface generations ago. Vast cities and sprawling parks spread across the planet. Darrow—and Reds like him—are nothing more than slaves to a decadent ruling class.

Inspired by a longing for justice, and driven by the memory of lost love, Darrow sacrifices everything to infiltrate the legendary Institute, a proving ground for the dominant Gold caste, where the next generation of humanity’s overlords struggle for power. He will be forced to compete for his life and the very future of civilization against the best and most brutal of Society’s ruling class. There, he will stop at nothing to bring down his enemies… even if it means he has to become one of them to do so. (goodreads.com)

Red Rising is a complicated addition to this list. It can fall into many categories. For the year I have been working at the bookstore, this series has been recommended to me multiple times by multiple people. I refused to try it out. Why? Because I don’t LIKE Science Fiction stories. I like fantasy. I don’t like space, and aliens and stuff. But earlier this month while I was in library picking up another book, this series was on the shelf beside it. I thought, “What the heck”, and picked up the first book. WOAH. I loved it almost instantly. The first book is closer to a dystopian novel than a sci-fi one. Books two and three of the trilogy are more sci-fi, but halfway through Red Rising I knew I was in for the long haul. These books are so well written, and the world so well crafted, that after I finished all three novels, I wasn’t able to read a few  other books I tried because I felt they were written poorly.  Something I probably would not have noticed (or minded) had I not just read three books with such rich, well-crafted writing. I admitted to my coworkers that they were right, and I was wrong. This series was fantastic.

Favourite Picture Book

Pete With No Pants
by Rowboat Watkins

Meet Pete.

Pete is gray. He’s round. And he’s not wearing any pants.

So Pete must be a boulder. Or is he a pigeon? Or a squirrel? Or a cloud?

Join Pete in his quest to answer the world’s oldest question: Why do I have to wear pants? Wait, that’s the second oldest.  (goodreads.com)

I have a slight elephant obsession. (Cue collective  gasp of shock.) The cover art, and title of this book was enough for me to pick it up off the table at work as soon as we got it in. But the story itself is hilarious, charming, and warm-hearted. The illustrations are gorgeous and this hazy, soft, calming colouring. I bought this book for myself. I love Pete. And I, too, often question why I need to wear pants.

*-*-*-*-*

I read a lot of  good books this year. I did not finish more than normal. I feel a lot less guilty not continuing with a book I am not enjoying. In fact, I have found I am much pickier with my reads than I have been in the past. I no longer have patience for those cookie cutter plots. If I start a new book and feel like I have already read the story a million times, I’ll put it down and try another book. I didn’t used to be like this, although I have been out  of the reading game for a while. Now I want to appreciate what I am reading more than wanting to read what everyone else is reading. I have even abandoned some series I was following faithfully because I just couldn’t read the same story over and over. This might be a normal thing for most people, but it’s a newer thing for me.

What did you read this year that stood out among everything else you read in 2017?