Thursday, February 23, 2012

colourful february

Even when February is mild, like ours has been (for the most part), the colours are always so drab and depressing.  At its best, the grass is soggy, brown, and yellow.  There is mud everywhere.  No leaves, no flowers.  Leftover slush.  In other words, yuck.  At least it's not blizzarding, I suppose.  In any case, I thought I'd bring a splash (literally) of colour into our lives this February, with a few shots from an experiment my younger brother showed us. Basically, you take a bowl of milk, drop in some food colouring, add a little dish soap in the middle, and voila, a beautiful swirly pattern is formed.  It even looked nice when we dumped it all out!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

a smashing good time

I am a memory collecting addict.  Yes, I am one of those people who keeps almost everything I pick up -- generally paper things though.  Business cards from artists, pamphlets and brochures, tickets from concerts, plays, and movies.  I kept the majority of the notes passed to me in boring high school classes, photobooth pictures, letters from penpals, Valentines from friends and my brothers that harken back to the '90s.  I'm also a journaler, and even though there are those inevitable gaps of a month or two here and there, I've regularly journaled since eighth grade, making that...about eight years.  There are a few problems with this though.  The first is that I have memory box upon memory box that stand in teetering stacks in the basement and in my room (and trust me, there is not nearly enough room in either place for the number of boxes I have).  The other problem is that I've been very concerned about journaling with a "traditional look".  That means cursive writing in black pen only.  Of course I've tucked little keepsakes into the pages, like pressed flowers and leaves, subway tickets from Montreal, even a Yugioh card from a little boy at a camp I counselled.  I realized that as much as I love bygone eras, I'm not a part of them.  Of course I still draw influence from them, but there are plenty of things from my own generation that I love.  And when I came across these Smash Journals, which are essentially a notebook meant to keep all of those bits of ephemera in one place, I thought that this was the perfect opportunity to get out of my left-brained journaling rut, condense my memory boxes, and have a place to collect memories of my own time.  I have to say, that while I'm not nearly as messy (the good kind of messsy) when it comes to scrapbooking as a lot of other people, the fact that I'm overlapping corners is a big step for me.  Plus, there are so many cool products, like journaling spots, date stamps, funky tape, and pockets from Smash that it makes it that much more fun!  So here's a few of the pages I've been working on in the past couple weeks!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

the voracious reader

As I'm sure everyone knows, I love to read.  But every now and then, I go through a phase where all I want to do is read, and that isn't really an exaggeration.  Usually it starts when I come across a really good book, and I motor my way through it, until I'm left with that deflated feeling of, "Now what?"  Because you know, I have a hard time slowing down when a book is exciting, so it's always over much too soon.  So then I go hunting for another really good book, and when I finish that one, I look for another, and the cycle continues on and on into oblivion until I've read myself out and take a bit of a break.  And by "break", I really mean I find a book to read that is good, but not so good that I literally can't put it down.

It was the Hunger Games that started my current reading jubilee.  I read the trilogy in under a week, and am now going through it a second time, reading it aloud to Luke.  But reading the same books twice isn't quite satisfying when you're in the reading zone.  So I picked up a book that had been sitting on my shelf for probably three or four months (if not more): The Heretic Queen by Michelle Moran.  I'd picked it up from the bargain section of Chapters because I'd read one of her other books, Nefertiti.  I loved the latter, so I figured I would love the other one, but I wasn't in the right "mood" for it at the time (just like I picked up To Kill a Mockingbird, hated it, picked it up a year later, and absolutely loved it).  I guess I was in a better mindset for it, because I zipped through it, reading late into the night, and immediately put in a hold at the library for one of her other books, Cleopatra's Daughter.

I will admit I am usually skeptical of historical fiction.  It usually takes that one slip up that turns me off completely, and I can't read any further.  Now, I don't mean artistic liberties, because when it comes to writing about actual historical figures, particularly from ancient times, you absolutely have to.  I mean, you wouldn't have much of a book if you confined yourself to only what is known "for sure".  What I mean by slip ups, is when someone in Victorian London says, "Wow, that's so cool!"

I think Michelle Moran gets a lot of flack for taking artistic liberties.  At least, that's what I've gathered from reviews I've read on her books.  I think she does it well though, and she makes a point of mentioning in a historical note at the end of the book the key things that she changed and why.  It's kind of like how I've always wanted to write a story from the perspective of King Tut's wife, Ankhesenamun, after Tut's death.  If I'm writing a book that's meant to be dramatic, suspenseful, and borderline thriller, am I going to go with the accepted theory that Tut died from infection caused by a broken leg, or the more exciting murder theory?  Frankly guys, I'm going to go with the murder, but I'm not going to walk around pretending like that is definitely what happened.  I also detest when readers try to thrust their 21st century feminist agendas on historical fiction.  Please don't whine about the fact that Nefertari, the heroine of Heretic Queen, is in competition with Iset to win the affections and favour of Pharaoh Ramesses II, because that's how it was. Can we not just read things in context?!

I wouldn't go so far as to say this is the best that contemporary literature has to offer.  But I will say that for popular lit, it's pretty darn good, and I love the life she brings to these truly fascinating women of the ancient world.   managed to get me totally obsessed with Ancient Egypt and Rome all over again (this happens about once or twice a year, and has since I was about eight).  It makes me glad that I've invested in a few non-fiction books on the subject too.  But I'm afraid soon I'll be making a departure from the ancient world, in favour of Moran's novel about Madame Tussaud.  Exciting!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

wings of paradise

Today my mom, my younger brother (Jesse), and I made the short trek out to our local butterfly conservatory.  I used to go there once a year with my area class (an enrichment school program) back in elementary school, and I loved it.  The last time I went was with my friend Anna a couple years ago.  Even though it really hasn't changed at all, it's still a different experience every time.  When I went with Anna, the butterflies were very sleepy, and actually rather hard to come by.  This time they were buzzing (not literally) with life.  A few of them attached to themselves to my mom and brother, and one latched onto my shirt and showed no signs of letting go until I eased him onto a plant.  I think he was a little desperate, because he had just come out of his chrysalis, and his wings hadn't yet unfolded all the way.  You can see something similar in the shot of my mom with her butterfly friend.  There was also a big, pretty yellow one that landed on my camera!  It flew away before my mom could take a picture on her phone though, which was too bad.  It was nice to get a few hours of reprieve from the cold though -- they have to keep it very warm in the conservatory for the butterflies, birds, and tropical plants.