Monday, November 29, 2010

Night owls

I love the night, and how everything flows after midnight. I like the idea of getting up early and greeting the sun, and when I manage this fit, I’m mostly happy about it. But nothing compares to the peace of the night.
That’s it. This is all I wanted to say today.
But then I decided to do some research on night owls. And guess what? It turns out that night owls are more creative than those other morning people. Yes! At least according to a couple of studies. But then it also said that night people tend to be more extroverted. I’m definitely closer to introversion than extraversion. But I’m still creative.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The sea port market

I don’t like the new Halifax market at the sea port. Unlike the old brewery, it doesn’t have character, at least not yet. The green roof is an admirable effort, but they really have to figure out their parking situation. The traffic jams are horrendous, and I’m not sure the green roof is able to compensate for all the exhaust.
I love the fresh goat milk that we buy there from an Aylesford farm, eggs, and nitrate free meats, but every time I go there, I regret the trip. How busy and hectic it is! How rushed! The modern building has changed the market’s pace, and its spirit.
Most Saturdays it is my heroic husband who goes there, while the kids and I sleep in. We wake up to fresh croissants and milk…Heaven.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Iqaluit calls me?

When I splashed boiling cooking oil on my fingers more than 3 years ago, when we lived in Iqaluit, I had no idea my scar would become a Harry Potter-like indicator. Though I’m not sure what it is telling me. Surely, there isn’t a cooking oil trying to kill me.
Over the years the scar has faded, and I’ve forgotten about the experience. Yesterday I was telling a friend that I miss Iqaluit. In the process of reviving this blog, I started reading my old favourite Iqaluit blogs, and my feelings about that place became quite intense. I loved the simplicity of life there, the landscapes, the pristine whiteness and the cold. I loved living at the edge of the tundra. I would want to live there again, but it is an irrational and impractical longing. My kids are older, they wouldn’t want to leave their friends, their favourite art class, the wonderful library system, the museums…They miss Iqaluit too, but I think they mostly miss our house and their friends, but the friends are no longer there.
As I was talking about Iqaluit, I glanced at my hands, and noticed the scar growing redder and redder. The skin started to itch. After about half an hour, the scar was back to its invisible self.
I’m notoriously bad at googling for obscure phenomena. Anyone has an explanation?

Friday, November 26, 2010

Hurricane Earl 2010

I like the ocean when it is windy. It’s better when it rains. Nova Scotia is full of people like me. During hurricane Earl, which actually was downgraded to tropical storm by the time it got here, but people still call it a hurricane, there were at least 20 cars parked by the entrance of the closed park. A steady stream of people in rain gear, their heads down because of the wind and flying sand, inched against the wind. To see the ocean.
 I left my kids on the side of the road (with my husband) and continued towards the beach. I couldn’t see a thing—the wind was too strong to keep my eyes open. I doubt the wind was still around 120km/h when we got there, but it was still pretty strong. Someone stopped me and yelled in my ear that if I hid behind the washroom I might be able to see something. People are very friendly here.
I expected to see bigger waves, considering all the wind.  On my way back I couldn't walk, I ran--the wind pushed me that hard. And still people were coming, pushing through the wind, then letting the wind push them. To see the ocean.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

How to bake healthy muffins

You’ll need a recipe.
Unless you’re a risk taker.
If you are,
Grab some whole wheat flower, about a cup,
Add baking powder and salt. This is what
Cook books call
Dry ingredients.
In a separate bowl
Mix together an egg
A cup of buttermilk and some butter
2 ripe bananas
Pumpkin seeds
Sunflower seeds
Poppy seeds
And maybe some nuts.
Now it looks like the muffins will be too healthy, so add chocolate chips.
Sweeten with honey because you like bees.
Turn it on 375 but not higher than 425.
Now you will see smoke
And smell something burning.
Don’t panic.
Open the window. Stir in the healthy stuff with the dry ingredients.
Pour into your silicone muffin baking cups which are shaped like jack-oh-lanterns because Halloween is your favorite holiday and bake for 15 minutes. Don’t rush to wash your bowls and spatulas. While the muffins bake, sing a song.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

November energy

I love the writing energy of the month. So many people all over the world are feverishly writing their novels. I’m sure the has the stats. 
This year I didn’t have a new project slotted for November, but I used the month to really focus on my novel number two. To push it to the finish line. Most wonderful ideas and scenes are born when my brain is in a hurry. I love being surprised with what comes up. My characters delight me.
This is what I love most about writing—the creative frenzy and how my characters shape their stories, bit by bit, like a massive puzzle.
I also love the editing part of it, but this comes later.

Monday, November 22, 2010

How to feed ducks

I buy dry corn for the ducks at Frog Pond. Defrosted peas are good too. So are seeds. When I come to the spot with the bench, the ducks hurry out of water and wait. Within a minute a raven flies over and finds a branch above.
The signs at the far end of the park, where most people who walk the trails won’t ever see them, say that feeding ducks isn’t allowed. When I’m there with my bag of duck food, I worry that someone will scold me for breaking the law. I have a response prepared: the ducks haven’t migrated anyway, and now they need their nutrition now. Most people bring them bread. It fills the ducks, but leaves them nutritionally deficient. I bring them corn.
People feel defensive when told that bread isn’t that great for the ducks. I haven’t corrected anyone, of course, but my kids have. My kids care about the ducks maybe a little bit more than I do, so they warn everyone who approaches—bread is bad for the ducks. The usual response is, but that’s what everybody does.
Year after year, poor nutrition and cold winters notwithstanding, the ducks survive.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

T-rex wasn't a fast runner, doh!

As I always suspected, just by looking at their little plastic shapes, T-rexes couldn't possible run without falling. After watching a DVD with the kids today, I found out that apparently most are found with fractured pelvises. One hypothesis is that they were slow scavengers with an extraordinary sense of olfaction. Just look at their nostrils.

My hunch was confirmed about 10 years ago by John Hutchinson of Stanford.
Nor sure if you find it as fascinating as I do, but you can find more here. 

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Fake tree is better than a dead bonsai

Today I convinced the kids to buy a fake Christmas tree. Last year we tried a live one, the one with the roots. It was a little bonsai. This is when we learned that buying a bonsai in a grocery store wasn’t a good idea. They need to be properly winterised, can’t be kept inside (and will die if kept inside), and they are more like a pet than a plant—those who are serious about the art never leave on vacation.
We also found out that most bonsais sold in grocery stores and even nurseries, are already dead. Scratch the bark with your fingernail—if what you see is brown, the tree is already dead. The healthy color is green.  Ours was also mislabelled, and it meant hours of trying to identify it, posting photos on various bonsai forums, and finding out that the experts were simply unsure.
We ended up giving it away to a friend with an unheated sunroom. Maybe it did survive.
For my daughter a cut Christmas tree is not an option. What most people would call “live” is dead to her, and she doesn’t want a tree to die just for her. So the bonsai was out too, even she understood that after the last year’s desperate attempts to save it. The only logical choice was a fake tree.
It wasn’t easy to find a tree without lights already attached. We finally found one that looked just like a real one, even from up close.
While we were shopping, it started snowing. By the time we drove home, the snow turned into rain.