Belief and Honesty

I try to tell my children the truth - to say what I mean, to keep my promises, to answer their questions to the best and fullest extent of my ability.

But ...

I also encourage their beliefs in all things fantastical, even things I know not to be true. Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, Harry Potter, dragons and faeries. I don't consider this lying, but there are a surprising number of people who do.

Chickadee received a genuine imitation Harry Potter wand for Christmas. She was quite concerned that nothing happened when she tried out the spells she's memorized from the movies, and worried that she had no magical powers. So I pointed out that Harry et al didn't go to Hogwarts until they were 11, so maybe no one could do magic until that point. Then she worried about someone else in the family getting hold of the wand and accidentally turning the house into a giant lizard or something. So I said it was a safe bet that since none of us had been invited to wizarding school, we were hardcore Muggles and couldn't produce to much as a spark from her wand.

She's perfectly happy with that explanation, and patiently awaiting her 11th birthday (some 3 years off) and her invitation, in green ink, to Hogwarts or its North American counterpart. (I figure the odds are good that, by 11, she'll have outgrown this particular belief. If not, well, there's plenty of time left to burst that bubble.)

In short, I lied to her. Blatantly, and with clear conscience.

I occasionally visit parenting websites, looking for information, and a recurring theme seems to be "I promised myself I would never lie to my child. What do I tell them at Christmas when all their friends are getting presents from Santa?" I don't have a lot of respect for these people - it seems to me they either don't trust themselves enough to handle a little imagination, or are so devoted to telling the unvarnished truth that their children are the only ones still talking to them. It's one thing to be honest with your children, it's quite another to beat them over the head with TRUTH.

I'm a non-believer, one of those Scientific Types who likes Rational Explanations with Evidence (not proof, necessarily, but Good, Solid Evidence). But at the same time, I accept the possibility of the existence of fantastical things. A very faint possibility, to be sure, but I like to think that somewhere, somewhen, magic could be real. Not here, not now, but maybe a few billion years in the past or future.

And I want to let my children draw their own lines around what they believe, not impose those limits myself. I accept the possibility that this means they'll grow up to believe in alien abductions, that there really are 12 million reincarnations of Helen of Troy, that a Magic 8 Ball can predict the future.

But I'm also giving them a solid grounding in science and rationalism - Chickadee also received, and was just as excited about, a science kit, and has been known to lecture her 3-year-old brother on the properties of 'gravidy'. So I'll take my chances, and let them believe in the impossible as long as they can.


Thoughts on Christmas Eve

It's not evening yet, but I won't be here when darkness falls, so I thought I'd take advantage of MonkeyBoy's extended nap to nip over here for a quick post.

It's been a good day, despite the absences of Chickadee (with her father until tomorrow morning) and Dean (with his daughter, again until tomorrow morning). MonkeyBoy and I spent this morning at my employer's annual children's party, which was fabulous. It's a family-owned company, and they really treat their employees like part of that family. They hosted 40 kids, providing presents and lunch for all. The party started at 10, but I was told that the short people usually show up around 9:30 and spend the first half hour making sure no work is done. I would have been reluctant to encourage such mayhem, but the president's two daughters were leading the pack and, truth be told, the productivity level in the office was pretty low to begin with.

MonkeyBoy endeared himself to all and sundry by running up when Santa called his name and flinging his arms around Santa's knees (as high as he could reach) in a joyful hug. All the other kids his age had to be dragged up by their mothers, and regarded the Man in Red (with a most magnificent beard) with trepidation or outright terror.

And, since he's been asleep for well over 2 hours now, I've got all the presents wrapped and rehidden, am dressed and coiffed (well, I brushed my hair - that's as coiffed as I get most days), and ready to roll. We're spending Christmas Eve with The Old Gang (a group of my parents' friends, their children and a couple o' grandchildren). We'll eat, sing some songs, reminisce, then head for home at a decent hour (MB will probably fall asleep in the car - I've packed his pj's, just in case). Then I'll sneak all the presents under the tree, fill the stockings, and head for bed myself. We're hosting Christmas dinner this year - just us, my parents and my brother, but this will be the first turkey I've ever cooked.

I'm looking forward to it.

Merry Christmas, one and all!


To Blog or Not To Blog

Last week, I was all set to pull the plug here. I didn't feel like I had anything to say, or a particularly compelling or interesting way of saying it, and was seriously questioning why I was bothering to write anything at all.

And it was my birthday, and I hate birthdays, and generally feel like everything I'm doing is futile and worthless for the week or so leading up to them. Usually I feel better once the cake has been cut, but I was still questioning my participation in the blogosphere (sorry, Dean) a few days later. I said as much to Dean, who asked if I was quitting because I wanted to quit, or because I felt I wasn't good enough to continue.

My first reaction was I'm quitting because I want to quit. I have always believed that I dislike writing - although I'm reasonably competent, I've never enjoyed it. But I realized that wasn't strictly true. What I dislike is actually the physical act of applying pen to paper - I had poor handwriting as a child (the only Needs Improvement I ever received on a report card was for penmanship, and I cried all the way home from school. I believe my mother laughed and told me it really wasn't that important) and handwriting has always been a physical hardship. In school, I never did a rough draft unless it had to be handed in along with the final copy, because I couldn't stand the thought of writing something out twice. But as I thought about it, I realized that I quite like composing at a keyboard - my hands can keep up with my thoughts (most of the time), I can correct as I go, and I even like the clickety-clack of the keyboard.

So I wasn't thinking of quitting because I didn't enjoy writing. I was quitting because I didn't think my work was good enough. Good enough for what? A very good question, and that's why I'm still here. I don't want fame or fortune, so I'm not trying to build up to a million hits a day. I'm not trying to influence anyone's opinion, or change the world, or really even make a difference. The only person I really write for, beside myself, is Dean, and he likes what I write. I don't think it's anything special, but it doesn't really have to be - it's not like I'm getting paid for this, or forcing people to read it.

Dean asked if anything I had written here had helped me in some way, given me some insight I might not have gained had I left the thoughts in my head, and I realized that there have been a couple of times when blogging has helped me clarify my feelings, or gain new understanding of my thought processes. And that seems to me, for the time being, sufficient reason to continue.


Quotes from a MonkeyBoy

On crawling into my bed for a cuddle in the morning: "It's nice to let people sleep with people."

On being asked to get his shoes for the 18th time: "Oh, just give it a rest, Mom."

On watering the Christmas tree: "Do you know what another way of saying 'watering the tree' is? You can also say 'seeming through the pipes. That's what I say, anyway. That's also a name you can call the tree."

On being told I had to get dressed before opening the blinds so he could see the sunshine: "You could do it naked."

On whining: "I don't wanna stop whining!"

On blatantly stealing my food:
"I really like how you share, Mom, it's very nice."

On being told by his father to remove his backside from the piano keyboard: "You're a tooty old fing."

On Santa: "What if Santa doesn't come to our house?" "He will, he comes to every house." "But what if he doesn't?" "Santa's magic, and he goes to every single house on Christmas, so he'll come to our house, too." "But what if he DOESN'T?" "Well, I guess we wouldn't get any presents and would be very sad." "Oh. OK."


Merry Christmas to All!

Or rather, "Happy Seasonal Holiday Observance of Your Choice!"

We've been rather busy getting ready for the Big Day, and I have had some Blogging Issues (personal rather than technical), more about which I may write later. Or not, I am as yet undecided.

For anyone who's ever worked in, or wanted to work in, or envied the lazy bastards working in Marketing, this holiday gem was sent out by a local ad agency - speakers required, but it's definitely worth a listen.


People Behind the News

Diva wrote a piece about a news story involving someone she knew, which reminded me of a something that happened to a resident of my neighbourhood. A few years ago, a kid called Joe ran his car off the road in a remote area, and spent 8 days trapped in the wreckage before he was rescued. He made the local papers when he failed to arrive at his destination, and I really felt for his parents - hoping that I will never have to wait as they did, day after day, wondering if my child is still alive. Then he was found, miraculously alive after 8 days without food or water, seriously injured, trapped in the wreckage of his car. It was a pretty amazing story.

And every time I go grocery shopping, there he is. He's the guy who bags my groceries, and rounds up the carts in the parking lot. A nice guy, he always has a cheery smile for the kids. And I wonder, whenever I see him, what it must have been like. And I know I'll never ask him, although I'm sure lots of others have.

And I wonder about all the other people who make the news - what must it be like, to have so many people know so much about a very small piece of your life. And I hope I never find out. Because people rarely make the front page for happy reasons.



I am, at the moment, completely and utterly lacking in motivation. I
have just been taken to task for a situation about which I know
nothing and over which I have absolutely no control, by the president
of the company. Not a particularly good feeling.

I inherited the problem when my boss, who is out of town this week,
asked me to call a few people about participating in a discussion
forum, on an unnamed topic for unnamed purposes. Difficult to do as he
also didn't give me a date for said forum. When I finally got hold of
him this morning, he said it was quite urgent, that the whole thing
needed to be wrapped up before Christmas, and to check with our
president to see if she was available next week. Then call back all
the other participants (both internal and external, about 18 in all)
to confirm their attendence.

So I spoke to our president's secretary, to see when she was
available. Ten minutes later, said president descends upon my desk,
somewhat overwrought, because this project has been stalled for over a
month, she's been expecting but not receiving regular updates, she
needs a list of the external participants, their backgrounds and
respective areas of expertise … and we need to include her brother,
who is the extraordinarily difficult president of the company's US
division. And he's not available until the end of January.

And I get all the blame, because the file was dumped on my desk on
Monday. And I look bad because I can't answer any of her questions, or
reassure her that everything's on track, or do anything other than nod
sympathetically because I know bugger all about what's supposed to be

Oh, I do so love being vented upon.

And I can't reach my boss to tell him a) the forum has to be postponed
until January and b) the president wants an internal meeting next week
to fill everyone in on the details. Which, apparently, I'm supposed to
arrange. And, given the way things are going, probably chair and take
minutes. And serve coffee. While juggling chainsaws.


Books and the Reading Thereof

I found this on Herstory while wandering through Bloglines, and thought it was pretty cool. There are a few books on the list that I started but couldn't get into - for those, I've emboldened the title, but not the author.

The rules are:

1. Steal it.
2. Post it on your site.
3. Bold the books you've read.
4. Add three of your own!

So, let's go...

1. The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien
2. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
3. His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman
4. The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
5. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, JK Rowling
6. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
7. Winnie the Pooh, AA Milne
8. 1984, George Orwell
9. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, CS Lewis
10. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte
11. Catch-22, Joseph Heller
12. Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte
13. Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks
14. Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier
15. The Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger
16. The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame
17. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens
18. Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
19. Captain Corelli's Mandolin, Louis de Bernieres
20. War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy
21. Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell
22. Harry Potter And The Sorcerers philosopher's Stone, JK Rowling
23. Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets, JK Rowling
24. Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban, JK Rowling
25. The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien
26. Tess Of The D'Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy
27. Middlemarch, George Eliot
28. A Prayer For Owen Meany, John Irving
29. The Grapes Of Wrath, John Steinbeck
30. Alice's Adventures In Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
31. The Story Of Tracy Beaker, Jacqueline Wilson
32. One Hundred Years Of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
33. The Pillars Of The Earth, Ken Follett
34. David Copperfield, Charles Dickens
35. Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl
36. Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson
37. A Town Like Alice, Nevil Shute
38. Persuasion, Jane Austen
39. Dune, Frank Herbert
40. Emma, Jane Austen
41. Anne Of Green Gables, LM Montgomery
42. Watership Down, Richard Adams
43. The Great Gatsby, F Scott Fitzgerald
44. The Count Of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas
45. Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh
46. Animal Farm, George Orwell
47. A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
48. Far From The Madding Crowd, Thomas Hardy
49. Goodnight Mister Tom, Michelle Magorian
50. The Shell Seekers, Rosamunde Pilcher
51. The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett
52. Of Mice And Men, John Steinbeck
53. The Stand, Stephen King
54. Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
55. A Suitable Boy, Vikram Seth
56. The BFG, Roald Dahl
57. Swallows And Amazons, Arthur Ransome
58. Black Beauty, Anna Sewell
59. Artemis Fowl, Eoin Colfer
60. Crime And Punishment, Fyodor Dostoyevsky
61. Noughts And Crosses, Malorie Blackman
62. Memoirs Of A Geisha, Arthur Golden
63. A Tale Of Two Cities, Charles Dickens
64. The Thorn Birds, Colleen McCollough
65. Mort, Terry Pratchett
66. The Magic Faraway Tree, Enid Blyton
67. The Magus, John Fowles
68. Good Omens, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
69. Guards! Guards!, Terry Pratchett
70. Lord Of The Flies, William Golding
71. Perfume, Patrick Susskind
72. The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, Robert Tressell
73. Night Watch, Terry Pratchett
74. Matilda, Roald Dahl
75. Bridget Jones' Diary, Helen Fielding
76. The Secret History, Donna Tartt
77. The Woman In White, Wilkie Collins
78. Ulysses, James Joyce
79. Bleak House, Charles Dickens
80. Double Act, Jacqueline Wilson
81. The Twits, Roald Dahl
82. I Capture The Castle, Dodie Smith
83. Holes, Louis Sachar
84. Gormenghast, Mervyn Peake
85. The God Of Small Things, Arundhati Roy
86. Vicky Angel, Jacqueline Wilson
87. Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
88. Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons
89. Magician, Raymond E Feist
90. On The Road, Jack Kerouac
91. The Godfather, Mario Puzo
92. The Clan Of The Cave Bear, Jean M Auel
93. The Colour Of Magic, Terry Pratchett
94. The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho
95. Katherine, Anya Seton
96. Kane And Abel, Jeffrey Archer
97. Love In The Time Of Cholera, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
98. Girls In Love, Jacqueline Wilson
99. The Princess Diaries, Meg Cabot
100. Midnights Children, Salman Rushdie
101. Three Men In A Boat, Jerome K. Jerome
102. Small Gods, Terry Pratchett
103. The Beach, Alex Garland
104. Dracula, Bram Stoker
105. Point Blanc, Anthony Horowitz
106. The Pickwick Papers, Charles Dickens
107. Stormbreaker, Anthony Horowitz
108. The Wasp Factory, Iain Banks
109. The Day Of The Jackal, Frederick Forsyth
110. The Illustrated Mum, Jacqueline Wilson
111. Jude The Obscure, Thomas Hardy
112. The Secret Diary Of Adrian Mole Aged 13 1/2, Sue Townsend
113. The Cruel Sea, Nicholas Monsarrat
114. Les Miserables, Victor Hugo
115. The Mayor Of Casterbridge, Thomas Hardy
116. The Dare Game, Jacqueline Wilson
117. Bad Girls, Jacqueline Wilson
118. The Picture Of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde
119. Shogun, James Clavell
120. The Day Of The Triffids, John Wyndham
121. Lola Rose, Jacqueline Wilson
122. Vanity Fair, William Makepeace Thackeray
123. The Forsyte Saga, John Galsworthy
124. House Of Leaves, Mark Z. Danielewski
125. The Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver
126. Reaper Man, Terry Pratchett
127. Angus, Thongs And Full-Frontal Snogging, Louise Rennison
128. The Hound Of The Baskervilles, Arthur Conan Doyle
129. Possession, A. S. Byatt
130. The Master And Margarita, Mikhail Bulgakov
131. The Handmaids Tale, Margaret Atwood
132. Danny The Champion Of The World, Roald Dahl
133. East Of Eden, John Steinbeck
134. Georges Marvellous Medicine, Roald Dahl
135. Wyrd Sisters, Terry Pratchett
136. The Color Purple, Alice Walker
137. Hogfather, Terry Pratchett
138. The Thirty-Nine Steps, John Buchan
139. Girls In Tears, Jacqueline Wilson
140. Sleepovers, Jacqueline Wilson
141. All Quiet On The Western Front, Erich Maria Remarque
142. Behind The Scenes At The Museum, Kate Atkinson
143. High Fidelity, Nick Hornby
144. It, Stephen King
145. James And The Giant Peach, Roald Dahl
146. The Green Mile, Stephen King
147. Papillon, Henri Charriere
148. Men At Arms, Terry Pratchett
149. Master And Commander, Patrick OBrian
150. Skeleton Key, Anthony Horowitz
151. Soul Music, Terry Pratchett
152. Thief Of Time, Terry Pratchett
153. The Fifth Elephant, Terry Pratchett
154. Atonement, Ian McEwan
155. Secrets, Jacqueline Wilson
156. The Silver Sword, Ian Serraillier
157. One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, Ken Kesey
158. Heart Of Darkness, Joseph Conrad
159. Kim, Rudyard Kipling
160. Cross Stitch, Diana Gabaldon
161. Moby Dick, Herman Melville
162. River God, Wilbur Smith
163. Sunset Song, Lewis Grassic Gibbon
164. The Shipping News, Annie Proulx
165. The World According To Garp, John Irving
166. Lorna Doone, R. D. Blackmore
167. Girls Out Late, Jacqueline Wilson
168. The Far Pavilions, M. M. Kaye
169. The Witches, Roald Dahl
170. Charlotte's Web, E. B. White
171. Frankenstein, Mary Shelley
172. They Used To Play On Grass, Terry Venables and Gordon Williams
173. The Old Man And The Sea, Ernest Hemingway
174. The Name Of The Rose, Umberto Eco
175. Sophie's World, Jostein Gaarder
176. Dustbin Baby, Jacqueline Wilson
177. Fantastic Mr. Fox, Roald Dahl
178. Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov
179. Jonathan Livingstone Seagull, Richard Bach
180. The Little Prince, Antoine De Saint-Exupery
181. The Suitcase Kid, Jacqueline Wilson
182. Oliver Twist, Charles Dickens
183. The Power Of One, Bryce Courtenay
184. Silas Marner, George Eliot
185. American Psycho, Bret Easton Ellis
186. The Diary Of A Nobody, George and Weedon Gross-mith
187. Trainspotting, Irvine Welsh
188. Goosebumps, R. L. Stine
189. Heidi, Johanna Spyri
190. Sons And Lovers, D. H. Lawrence
191. The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera
192. Man And Boy, Tony Parsons
193. The Truth, Terry Pratchett
194. The War Of The Worlds, H. G. Wells
195. The Horse Whisperer, Nicholas Evans
196. A Fine Balance, Rohinton Mistry
197. Witches Abroad, Terry Pratchett
198. The Once And Future King, T. H. White
199. The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Eric Carle
200. Flowers In The Attic, Virginia Andrews
201. The Silmarillion, J.R.R. Tolkien
202. The Eye of the World, Robert Jordan
203. The Great Hunt, Robert Jordan
204. The Dragon Reborn, Robert Jordan
205. Fires of Heaven, Robert Jordan
206. Lord of Chaos, Robert Jordan
207. Winters Heart, Robert Jordan
208. A Crown of Swords, Robert Jordan
209. Crossroads of Twilight, Robert Jordan
210. A Path of Daggers, Robert Jordan
211. As Nature Made Him, John Colapinto
212. Microserfs, Douglas Coupland
213. The Married Man, Edmund White
214. Winters Tale, Mark Helprin
215. The History of Sexuality, Michel Foucault
216. Cry to Heaven, Anne Rice
217. Same-Sex Unions in Premodern Europe, John Boswell
218. Equus, Peter Shaffer
219. The Man Who Ate Everything, Jeffrey Steingarten
220. Letters To A Young Poet, Rainer Maria Rilke
221. Ella Minnow Pea, Mark Dunn
222. The Vampire Lestat, Anne Rice
223. Anthem, Ayn Rand
224. The Bridge To Terabithia, Katherine Paterson
225. Tartuffe, Moliere
226. The Metamorphosis, Franz Kafka
227. The Crucible, Arthur Miller
228. The Trial, Franz Kafka
229. Oedipus Rex, Sophocles
230. Oedipus at Colonus, Sophocles
231. Death Be Not Proud, John Gunther
232. A Dolls House, Henrik Ibsen
233. Hedda Gabler, Henrik Ibsen
234. Ethan Frome, Edith Wharton
235. A Raisin In The Sun, Lorraine Hansberry
236. ALIVE!, Piers Paul Read
237. Grapefruit, Yoko Ono
238. Trickster Makes This World, Lewis Hyde
240. The Mists of Avalon, Marion Zimmer Bradley
241. Chronicles of Thomas Convenant, Unbeliever, Stephen Donaldson
242. Lord of Light, Roger Zelazny
242. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, Michael Chabon
243. Summerland, Michael Chabon
244. A Confederacy of Dunces, John Kennedy Toole
245. Candide, Voltaire
246. The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More, Roald Dahl
247. Ringworld, Larry Niven
248. The King Must Die, Mary Renault
249. Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert Heinlein
250. A Wrinkle in Time, Madeline LEngle
251. The Eyre Affair, Jasper Fforde
252. The House Of The Seven Gables, Nathaniel Hawthorne
253. The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne
254. The Joy Luck Club, Amy Tan
255. The Great Gilly Hopkins, Katherine Paterson
256. Chocolate Fever, Robert Kimmel Smith
257. Xanth: The Quest for Magic, Piers Anthony
258. The Lost Princess of Oz, L. Frank Baum
259. Wonder Boys, Michael Chabon
260. Lost In A Good Book, Jasper Fforde
261. Well Of Lost Plots, Jasper Fforde
261. Life Of Pi, Yann Martel
263. The Bean Trees, Barbara Kingsolver
264. A Yellow Rraft In Blue Water, Michael Dorris
265. Little House on the Prairie, Laura Ingalls Wilder
267. Where The Red Fern Grows, Wilson Rawls
268. Griffin & Sabine, Nick Bantock

269. Witch of Blackbird Pond, Joyce Friedland
270. Mrs. Frisby And The Rats Of NIMH, Robert C. OBrien
271. Tuck Everlasting, Natalie Babbitt
272. The Cay, Theodore Taylor
273. From The Mixed-Up Files Of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, E.L. Konigsburg
274. The Phantom Tollbooth, Norton Juster
275. The Westing Game, Ellen Raskin
276. The Kitchen God's Wife, Amy Tan
277. The Bone Setter's Daughter, Amy Tan
278. Relic, Duglas Preston & Lincolon Child
279. Wicked, Gregory Maguire
280. American Gods, Neil Gaiman
281. Misty of Chincoteague, Marguerite Henry
282. The Girl Next Door, Jack Ketchum
283. Haunted, Judith St. George
284. Singularity, William Sleator
285. A Short History of Nearly Everything, Bill Bryson
286. Different Seasons, Stephen King
287. Fight Club, Chuck Palahniuk
288. About a Boy, Nick Hornby
289. The Bookmans Wake, John Dunning
290. The Church of Dead Girls, Stephen Dobyns
291. Illusions, Richard Bach
292. Magics Pawn, Mercedes Lackey
293. Magics Promise, Mercedes Lackey
294. Magics Price, Mercedes Lackey
295. The Dancing Wu Li Masters, Gary Zukav
296. Spirits of Flux and Anchor, Jack L. Chalker
297. Interview with the Vampire, Anne Rice
298. The Encyclopedia of Unusual Sex Practices, Brenda Love
299. Infinite Jest, David Foster Wallace.
300. The Bluest Eye, Toni Morrison.
301. The Cider House Rules, John Irving.
302. Enders Game, Orson Scott Card
303. Girlfriend in a Coma, Douglas Coupland
304. The Lions Game, Nelson Demille
305. The Sun, The Moon, and the Stars, Stephen Brust
306. Cyteen, C. J. Cherryh
307. Foucault's Pendulum, Umberto Eco
308. Cryptonomicon, Neal Stephenson
309. Invisible Monsters, Chuck Palahniuk
310. Camber of Culdi, Kathryn Kurtz
311. The Fountainhead, Ayn Rand
312. War and Rememberance, Herman Wouk
313. The Art of War, Sun Tzu
314. The Giver, Lois Lowry
315. The Telling, Ursula Le Guin
316. Xenogenesis (or Liliths Brood), Octavia Butler
317. A Civil Campaign, Lois McMaster Bujold
318. The Curse of Chalion, Lois McMaster Bujold
319. The Aeneid, Publius Vergilius Maro (Vergil)
320. Hanta Yo, Ruth Beebe Hill
321. The Princess Bride, S. Morganstern (or William Goldman)
322. Beowulf, Anonymous
323. The Sparrow, Maria Doria Russell
324. Deerskin, Robin McKinley
325. Dragonsong, Anne McCaffrey
326. Passage, Connie Willis
327. Otherland, Tad Williams
328. Tigana, Guy Gavriel Kay
329. Number the Stars, Lois Lowry
330. Beloved, Toni Morrison
331. Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christs Childhood Pal, Christopher Moore
332. The mysterious disappearance of Leon, I mean Noel, Ellen Raskin
333. Summer Sisters, Judy Blume
334. The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Victor Hugo
335. The Island on Bird Street, Uri Orlev
336. Midnight in the Dollhouse, Marjorie Filley Stover
337. The Miracle Worker, William Gibson
338. The Genesis Code, John Case
339. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Robert Louis Stevensen
340. Paradise Lost, John Milton
341. Phantom, Susan Kay
342. The Mummy / Ramses the Damned, Anne Rice
343. Anno Dracula, Kim Newman
344: The Dresden Files: Grave Peril, Jim Butcher
345: Tokyo Suckerpunch, Issac Adamson
346: The Winter of Magics Return, Pamela Service
347: The Oddkins, Dean R. Koontz
348. My Name is Asher Lev, Chaim Potok
349. The Last Goodbye, Raymond Chandler
350. At Swim, Two Boys, Jaime ONeill
351. Othello, by William Shakespeare
352. The Collected Poems of Dylan Thomas
353. The Collected Poems of William Butler Yeats
354. Sati, Christopher Pike
355. The Inferno, Dante
356. The Apology, Plato
357. The Small Rain, Madeline LEngle
358. The Man Who Tasted Shapes, Richard E. Cytowick
359. 5 Novels, Daniel Pinkwater
360. The Sevenwaters Trilogy, Juliet Marillier
361. Girl with a Pearl Earring, Tracy Chevalier
362. To the Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf
363. Our Town, Thorton Wilder
364. Green Grass Running Water, Thomas King
335. The Interpreter, Suzanne Glass
336. The Moors Last Sigh, Salman Rushdie
337. The Mother Tongue, Bill Bryson
338. A Passage to India, E.M. Forster
339. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky
340. The Phantom of the Opera, Gaston Leroux
341. Pages for You, Sylvia Brownrigg
342. The Changeover, Margaret Mahy
343. Howls Moving Castle, Diana Wynne Jones
344. Angels and Demons, Dan Brown
345. Johnny Got His Gun, Dalton Trumbo
346. Shosha, Isaac Bashevis Singer
347. Travels With Charley, John Steinbeck
348. The Diving-bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby
349. The Lunatic at Large by J. Storer Clouston
350. Time for Bed by David Baddiel
351. Barrayar by Lois McMaster Bujold
352. Quite Ugly One Morning by Christopher Brookmyre
353. The Bloody Sun by Marion Zimmer Bradley
354. Sewer, Gas, and Eletric by Matt Ruff
355. Jhereg by Steven Brust
356. So You Want To Be A Wizard by Diane Duane
357. Perdido Street Station, China Mieville
358. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Anne Bronte
359. Road-side Dog, Czeslaw Milosz
360. The English Patient, Michael Ondaatje
361. Neuromancer, William Gibson
362. The Epistemology of the Closet, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick
363. A Canticle for Liebowitz, Walter M. Miller, Jr
364. The Mask of Apollo, Mary Renault
365. The Gunslinger, Stephen King
366. Romeo and Juliet, William Shakespeare
367. Childhoods End, Arthur C. Clarke
368. A Season of Mists, Neil Gaiman
369. Ivanhoe, Walter Scott (also in my collection, but haven't read it)
370. The God Boy, Ian Cross
371. The Beekeepers Apprentice, Laurie R. King
372. Finn Family Moomintroll, Tove Jansson
373. Misery, Stephen King
374. Tipping the Velvet, Sarah Waters
375. Hood, Emma Donoghue
376. The Land of Spices, Kate OBrien
377. The Diary of Anne Frank
378. Regeneration, Pat Barker
379. Tender is the Night, F. Scott Fitzgerald
380. Dreaming in Cuban, Cristina Garcia
381. A Farewell to Arms, Ernest Hemingway
382. The View from Saturday, E.L. Konigsburg
383. Dealing with Dragons, Patricia Wrede
384. Eats, Shoots & Leaves, Lynne Truss
385. A Severed Wasp - Madeleine LEngle
386. Here Be Dragons - Sharon Kay Penman
387. The Mabinogion (Ancient Welsh Tales) - translated by Lady Charlotte E. Guest
388. The DaVinci Code - Dan Brown
389. Desire of the Everlasting Hills - Thomas Cahill
390. The Cloister Walk - Kathleen Norris
391. The Things We Carried, Tim OBrien
392. I Know This Much Is True, Wally Lamb
393. Choke, Chuck Palahniuk
394. Enders Shadow, Orson Scott Card
395. The Memory of Earth, Orson Scott Card
396. The Iron Tower, Dennis L. McKiernen
397. Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand
398. A Ring of Endless Light, Madeline L'Engle
399. Lords of Discipline, Pat Conroy
400. Hyperion, Dan Simmons
401. If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things, Jon McGregor
402. The Bridge, Iain Banks
403. Practical Demonkeeping, Christopher Moore
404. Promethea, Alan Moore
405. the curious incident of the dog in the night-time, Mark Haddon
406. archangel - robert harris
407. vernon god little - dbc pierre
408. ultimate spiderman - brian michael bendis
409. The Glamour, Christopher Priest
410. The Portrait of Mrs. Charbuque, Jeffrey Ford
411. The Third Person, Steve Mosby
412. Psychoville, Christopher Fowler
413. The Street of Crocodiles, Bruno Schulz
414. The Constant Gardener,John Le Carre
415. The Priestess of Avalon,Marion Bradley
416. The Mists of Avalon,Marion Bradley
417: Einstein’s Dreams – Alan Lightman
418. The Greatest Thing Since Sliced Bread – Pat Robertson
419. Abarat – Clive Barker
420. The City of Beasts – Isabel Allende
421. The House of Spirits – Isabel Allende
422. Ameican Gods – Neil Gaiman
423. Coraline – Neil Gaiman
424. Like Water for Chocolate – Laura Esquivel
425. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – JK Rowling
426. Artemis Fowl and the Eternity Code – Eoin Colfer
427. Artemis Fowl and the Arctic Incident – Eoin Colfer
428. The Sun Also Rises – Ernest Hemingway
429. The Invisible Man – Ralph Waldo Ellison
420. Ogre, Ogre – Piers Anthony
421. The Good Earth, Pearl S. Buck
422. The Original English Translation of The Arabian Nights, (translated by) Sir Richard Francis Burton
423. Veronika Decides To Die, Paulo Coelho
424. The Runaway Jury- John Grisham
425. The Red Tent- Anita Diamant
426. The Stranger- Albert Camus
427. Seabiscuit: An American Legend- Laura Hillenbrand
428. Something Borrowed- Emily Giffin
429. Ham on Rye- Charles Bukowski
430. The Giving Tree- Shel Silverstein
431. Interpreter of Maladies- Jhumpa Lahiri
432. Profiles in Courage- John F. Kennedy
433. A River Sutra- Gita Mehta
434. Gulbadan: Portrait of a Rose Princess at the Mughal Court- Rumer Godden
435. The Baburnama: Memoirs of Babur, Prince and Emperor- Babur et al
436. To Say Nothing of the Dog, Connie Willis
437. Dragonbone Chair, Tad Williams
438. Swiss Family Robinson, Johan Wyss


Kith, Kin & Clans

We had a mini reunion on the weekend and got my 93-year-old grandfather talking about family history. His grandparents emigrated from Balquhidder, Scotland, in 1847, and settled in Ontario. His grandfather was a Rennie, of Clan MacDonnell of Keppoch we think. His grandmother was a Sutherland from Glasgow (coincidentally enough, I went to Sutherland Secondary School). And my grandfather married a Cameron (one of Harry Cameron's daughters).

So I'm entitled to wear 3 tartans on my father's side alone (there's also a Rennie tartan, but it's a newcomer, not a true clan pattern, and a rather bilious combination of hunter green and eggplant). My mother's mother's mother was from Aberdeen, so there's probably another clan connection there.

Still, we've been in Canada long enough that our Scottish connections are tenuous at best. And I've no desire to try haggis.


Knit Wit

One scarf down, four to go.

I have finished my very first attempt at knitting. It's not exactly a thing of beauty, but it'll go around a neck and keep it somewhat warmer than it would be otherwise. And I've started on a second, more challenging one for Chickadee. Then one for her best friend. Then one for Himself. Then, and only then, will I start the scarf that started me down the endless Road of Yarn. One for me.

On the bright side, it's not like scarves are exactly difficult to knit. Or time consuming. Even I, a total novice with minimal free time, can turn one out in less than a week. The only reason the first one took so long is because I ripped it apart twice when it was 99% finished - the first time, it was very obviously the work of a total neophyte. The second attempt was passable, but a little too wide for a 3-year-old neck, and a little too short for A Busy Boy. I figured I could use the practice, so I started again on Wednesday and cast off the last stitch at about 11 last night.

So there's a slim chance I'll be starting on mine before the holidays. Hmm ... I wonder if there's a market for scarves online.


Talking Without a License

Some people shouldn't be allowed to.

In an attempt to track down some exhibitor information for a trade
show my employer is attending, I called the rep for the company that's
organizing it, in Atlanta GA. I missed him when he returned my call
this morning, so he left a message letting me know the the exhibitor
kits were being 'assimilated' today, and asking me to give him a call
back as he'd love to open a dialogue with me to solicit feedback.

I'm guessing he's a recent business school grad. Or a Borg.

Himself suggested that an appropriate response would be "Assimilate
and dialogue my ASS, sucker!"

I'd be tempted, if it wouldn't ruin my reputation as a terminally
polite Canadian.


Inherited Tastes

After dinner last night, my dad triumphantly produced a tub of Crunchy Lemon sorbet for dessert. Chickadee was dubious, but happily finished her cone once she was assured the crunchy bits were candy, not something nutritious. MonkeyBoy hoovered down one cone and asked for a second (which Grandpa, naturally, provided). I restrained myself and only had one bowlful, but could easily have polished off the entire tub.

My mother likes vanilla. If she's feeling really daring, she'll top it off with a little chocolate syrup. She would never have bought Crunchy Lemon, even if the kids had been on hand to persuade her. But it's the kind of thing my dad buys if she lets him go to the store by himself.

I used to love it when dad got to do the grocery shopping. Mom didn't often let him, with good reason. She could send him out with a carefully drafted list, and he'd come back with red licorice, Jiffy-Pop, root beer and salt-n-vinegar chips but no butter, milk or laundry soap. Himself, for the record, is a much more reliable acquirer of provisions than my father. I'm the bad one. I do buy what's on the list (it's usually my list, after all) but always come home with 10% more junk food than planned. And I'll definitely be on the lookout for Crunchy Lemon from now on.

An incomplete list of other things my dad and I like:
- licorice allsorts
- Werthers
- lemon meringue pie
- Tootsie Rolls
- very old cheddar
- olives stuffed with garlic
- Double Bubble (for the first 45 seconds, until the flavour fades)
- crackling
- tomato juice with a dash of hot sauce
- walnuts in the shell
- Hill Street Blues
- Connie Willis' Bellwether
- Monty Python
- beachcombing
- walking in the woods
- spite & malice
- backgammon
- cribbage
- hearts
- fresh peas in the pod
- green apples
- catching frogs
- going fast in his boat
- rock collecting
- talking about nothing in particular

Decisions, Decisions

Himself is thinking of moving to a hosted service for our websites/blogs/what have you. I have no problem moving my personal website which is really just photos of my kids, posted so family members around the world can see them growing.

But the blog ... now there's a dilemma. The way I see it, I have 6 choices:

1. Do nothing. Stick with Blogger and my half-assed (on a good day) efforts here.
2. Keep the sxKitten thing and start another blog, although what the hell I'd find to talk about, given my inability to post meaningfully to a single blog, I don't know.
3. Nuke sxKitten and start over.
4. Move this site to the new host.
5. Move this site's content to a new blog, and turn Diary of a sxKitten into a salacious work of fiction in a blatant attempt to build traffic.
6. Admit that I'm writing this for 2 people, one of them being me, and that I'd be better off just emailing entries to the other and skipping the whole blog process entirely.

Along with these thoughts, I'm also wondering if I should link my blog to my personal site. Would anyone who knows me be interested in what I think when they're not in the room? Would they be shocked and/or appalled by the one or 2 intimate posts? Would I enjoy shocking and/or appalling them? Would it bother me to find out that none of my friends or family want to read what I write?

It's all so very complicated.