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English: Actors at the Anne of Green Gables mu...

I was watching Bomb Girls last night when I saw a clip of a news piece. I wasn’t paying attention, so I only heard a brief snippet of the anchorman saying something about a “controversial new Anne of Green Gables cover.” I haven’t been feeling well, and I could tell from the thumbnail that I was unlikely to like the new cover, so I turned off the TV and went to bed and continued reading another LM Montgomery book. I had every intention of ignoring the story, but I just couldn’t help myself from searching it out this morning, and now I can’t stop looking at it.

If you’ve ever read this blog before you know that I love Anne. I’ve loved Anne since I first read the book and saw the movie. I can’t bare to see her desecrated in this way. Turned into a sexpot, this blond, lounging creature with the confident, provocative smile can’t possibly be my friend Anne. It’s such a train wreck that I can’t take my eyes off it, much as I’d like to.

The publisher has shown complete disregard for the details presented in the novel, and the time period in which the novel was set. (Are we supposed to believe that Marilla would allow Anne to lounge like that in a small town in Edwardian PEI?) But this cover has done something worse than just disregard the content; it undermines the spirit of the story.

Anne of Green Gables is a coming of age story; it’s about growing up, learning how to behave, how to do things for yourself, how to fail, and how to succeed. The genius of the novel is that Anne is a hilariously imperfect main character who is relatable outside of her own community. She grows into her looks, learns to love and accept herself, learns to live in a family, to manage house work and school work, and to trust her peers, first Diana, then Gilbert.

This is story of a young woman finding herself and finding her way. However, this lurid cover  isn’t a cover about a young woman’s story, it’s the cover of a story about a young woman who is being used. It’s creepy, to say the least, to sexualize a 13-year-old girl in any medium, but all the more unsettling to do it in a novel geared to 13-year-old girls. The story is a classic because it speaks to the fundamental struggles about growing up, and it gives girls a space where they can figure themselves out, and where they can see themselves in someone else, and in the other girls in the story. This is a space where girls don’t need to be “on.” They don’t need to worry if they’re pretty enough, or attractive enough to boys, or (shudder) sexy enough. This cover undoes all of the things that the narrative sets out to accomplish. For that reason, I don’t thinks that this cover is controversial, it’s an epic fail!

What do you think? Do we, as a society, need to create space for young men and young women to think about and talk about the expectations they will face as adults? Can literature play this role or is it too prescriptive?

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painting1

This week, as I was frantically working, I happened to come across a video on my newsfeed. A friend had shared a short video of Beaker singing Ode to Joy. I’m always up for a laugh, particularly at work when I’m mired in my professional problems and a little frustrated. The video was a short, and funny, and I was hooked.

In the end, I think I watched this video 20 times. I was so caught up in it that at one point I took off my headphones, only to discover that every one of my coworkers had left me. They had abandoned me to my own devices, and frankly my devices had me in complete abandon as I listened to Beaker and then various other groups play this song.

I know it sounds trite, but I love the Ode to Joy. It definitely marks me as someone who doesn’t really understand classical music that I would count this song among my favourite classical pieces. But I just can’t resist it. There is something so infectious about this music. The way it builds, and becomes lighter. The way the notes soar upwards. I can’t help but go along for the ride.

Listening to this song makes me wish I hadn’t given up on music; it makes me wish that I had stuck it out, found a new teacher, one who could actually teach me to read music, and then learned how to express my joy by joining in. I move my feet, my hips and my arms. No other piece of music can make me want to interact with it the way this one does.

And I do, and I don’t think I’m alone. In my travels through YouTube I found another video, this one of a flash mob in Spain. The music builds in a familiar way, getting ever lighter, faster and always more joyful. As the musicians gather in a public square, and the music becomes more powerful, and harder to ignore, people out for drinks, walking their dogs, or doing their shopping stopped to take a moment to enjoy the music. I was struck by how joyful the crowd became, and how so many people felt the urge to be part of that music too. They danced, they sang, they climbed poles and retaining walls, while pretending to conduct, or at least keeping time. When it’s all over, you realize that nearly everyone has participated in this performance in some way, and everyone is happier for it.

I won’t lie, I spent most of the next day listening to and watching parts of this video. I then went home and downloaded 10 different versions of Ode to Joy. I’m completely addicted!

While this has been a great year for me, I know that it has been a difficult year for many, including some of the people I love the most. We’ve all lost people close to us, we’ve had to deal with change and loss of different kinds and at different levels of intensity, but I hope that you can watch these videos and take the time to enjoy and celebrate the peace of the season, and the feeling of joy that this music can give us, if we open ourself up to it.

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Little Acts of Greatness

Couple des arts

Saturday night was a bad night for me. It came out of nowhere, but there I was sitting alone on the couch watching some dreadful movie, sewing my Christmas presents, when all of sudden it hit me. A wave of bitterness and aggression washed over me, pulled me down, and then my needle started to go through the fabric and batting with so much more force  than was necessary. As I say, it took me by surprise, because I wasn’t able to fixate on a single thing that was upsetting me. Semi-formed sentences tumbled around in my head, and died as I started to think about writing them down. I wanted so much to write them down, and send them to the people who had upset me, but my issues with two or three different men jumbled on top of each other, and I was having trouble keeping everything straight.

So instead I developed a coping mechanism. I call it the Bitter box. It’s a box that sits beside the couch, where I can write down my issues with different people and throw them in. I needed to get this negativity out of my head, out of my body, and as far away from me as possible. Within an hour I had thrown two handfuls of thoughts and feelings. The plan is to write these horrible things down and throw them in the box. Once these thoughts and feelings are away from me, I can meditate for peace, for better control of my anger, and to heal. Finally, I will destroy these thoughts. I don’t know when, and I don’t know how (being afraid of fire means that a bonfire is out of the question). But I digress…the point is that what I am doing to handle the emotions that my past raises isn’t working, so I need to try something different. This is different.

Get out of my head!

My deep, dark secret is that I hate men. I know, it’s totally irrational, it will lead me nowhere good, and most importantly, it’s totally unfair. I try, I’ve tried, I want to put myself out there, to believe that this next guy will be the exception, if not “Mister Right,” then at least “Mister-I-Won’t-Steal-From-You-or-Ignore-You.” I haven’t dared to think that “Mister I-Respect-What-You’ve-Accomplished-and-Enjoy-Spending-Time-With-You” could be waiting for me.

But, as I’ve said before, blogging is supposed to be a positive space; a place where I can focus on the things that are really good, while simultaneously pushing the bad out of my mind and spirit. Which means that I can’t bitch and complain about the less than stellar men I’ve known here. Instead I’m going to take some advice a friend once gave me, and focus on the good relationships I see around me. So today, instead of trying to dissect my insecurities I am going to take the time to build up and praise all of the great men in my connection, and talk about a smattering of the things that make them truly wonderful.

These men, my friends’ husbands, haven’t ever done anything that would be worthy of a feature film—by which I mean that they may not always say the perfect thing, or engage in dramatic, over-the-top exhibitions of love and devotion, but rather they demonstrate their love every day by their respect for their families. The first man I want to highlight is my friend’s husband Dave. Dave is the kind of rock that we should all be looking for. He is steady, even-tempered, and often able to see the humour in life. I met Dave when I worked for and started my friendship with Fiona. I remember that I was out of the office to serve in a disastrous wedding. After the bride left and I helped the hosts clean up I limped up the gigantic hill to my home, where I sat down and wrote a lengthy email to Fiona. It was peppered with the inappropriate, and frankly shocking moments from this wedding party I had witnessed, and I’m sorry to say, participated in. Fiona later confided to me that Dave got so much enjoyment from my email that she caught him sneaking back to the computer to read it a couple more times. It’s not just Dave’s appreciation for good anecdotes that sets him apart. He brings the same good-natured approach to most of life’s hiccups. Not to say that he doesn’t get angry, but he is more likely to see the humour in any given situation. If nothing else, he knows how to direct his anger so that you never feel that you are the cause of it. Hats off to a man who doesn’t sweat the small stuff!

I would also like to celebrate Steve. Steve is the first instance I know of where a girl married her highschool sweetheart. And Steve is a nice man. I live a couple of hours away from Terri Anne and Steve, and when I come for a visit I have to stay over. Steve has never made me feel that I was intruding; he’s gone out of his way to include me in conversation and special events. I lost some friends in my mid-twenties, when their husbands couldn’t accept their wives’ friends. Hats off to a man who can feel comfortable meeting new people, and welcoming everyone into the fold!

My friend Whitney has gone  through a pretty tough year. I don’t want to be overly personal, but her husband Ian helped her get through it as best they could. Ian manned command central while Whitney attended to all the other things that needed to be looked after. I don’t mean to be vague, but I do want to respect their family’s privacy. The point is really that Ian and Whitney were a team; they prioritized getting their family back on track, and ensuring that they kept their relationship healthy and were able to lean on each other. Hats off to a man who knows what needs to be done, and just does it!

Finally, we get to B, Penelope’s husband. I have saved B to the end because I owe him an apology. I was not a big fan of B’s when Penelope first introduced us. He spent the better part of the night talking about a variety of practical jokes that he had played at no less than 3 universities. I didn’t really get why Penelope was attracted to him; he just seemed kind of goofy, a big joker. But jokers are wild, B is still goofy, but now I see that under all of that goofiness is a very nice man, who is totally practical, sensitive and reliable. B’s impressive collection of Transformers, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, comic books and video games is second only to his impressive love and devotion for Penelope, Momo, and their little dog Toby. Hats off to the man who has his priorities straight.

Thank you for bearing with me, I know we usually save our praise for wonderful men and hold onto it for June–right before Father’s day–but I needed to go through it tonight. I needed to remind myself that it isn’t all bad, that there are men out there who love and respect their wives, girlfriends and families, all we have to do is know how to recognize the good ones. I would love it if you could share some of the things that the wonderful men in your life do for you.

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English: Fortune Teller, Colin Campbell Cooper...

What does the future hold? Would you like to know? Do you prefer to be surprised, or do you like knowing exactly where you’re headed? I’ve always been in awe of people who set goals and then manage to live up to them. The first time I became aware of this phenomenon I was 26 or 27, having brunch with a girlfriend from out of town. She was 25 and going through her first pregnancy. We were sitting in a dark café in a back street in the deserted financial district on a Sunday morning. She took a sip of her cappuccino, looked up over my head, and calmly explained that her goal was to be married by 24 with a baby by 25. She told me she was a little off the mark, seeing as the baby wouldn’t be born until after her 26th birthday, but she considered it for a moment, and then declared “not bad, I mean I almost made it.”

I was shocked. I grew up in a home where my parents repeatedly told me that you can’t make these kinds of plans. You can’t because something will always get in the way, something you can’t predict. But yet, Emma was able to predict her future, and to make it come true to within a year of her goals.

I must have missed something; maybe I was set up to fail. Maybe if my parents had told me to chase my personal and professional goals more doggedly I would have achieved a few more of them. It’s hard to speak in hypotheticals, and frankly “coulda” “woulda” “shoulda” should be left alone. So I’ve made my way, and I have nothing to complain about, but every now and then I’d like to know what the future holds. I know that it’s silly, but sometimes I feel like everyone around me has it all figured out. They went to university, they got jobs, they got married, they bought houses, and now they are having kids. They know how many kids they’d like to have, and they are working towards setting their lives up according to their goals. WE were on the same track until the marriage part. I made my plans, and they promptly fell apart, not that I’ve suffered, it’s just the feeling of being left behind is all.

As I said , it’s not that I’m unhappy with my life, but, as you know, I have some challenges that I’m working on as well. At times, I wish I had a plan; I wish I knew where I was headed.

It’s charity week at my office, and one of the fundraising activities that we have going on here is a psychic. For 15 dollars you can go and have 20 minutes with a Taro card reader (with the proceeds going to charity). She told me a variety of things:

  • Some information about my brothers that I will share with them
  • That I am a talented writer, with a lot to say
  • She told me about my financial problems
  • She told me that I will hone my craft over the next year, and that this will be successful, and profitable for me
  • She told me that I will work very hard between now and July
  • But that in August or September I will meet a nice guy, who is very strong, and leadership oriented
  • She told me that I need to let go of the past
  • She warned me to try not to get mired in processes, but rather, I should just start writing and see where it takes me.

The psychic is urging me to take stock of where I’m at in my life, and take more direct action that will help me get to wherever it is I’m going. I guess that’s one of the biggest problems I have: I’m not even sure where it is I want to go. So it’s not a blow by blow of my future, but it’s teh beginning of a plan.

That being said, I know what the future holds for Penelope; her little guy Momo turns 1 on Sunday, so she will welcome a house-full of visitors Saturday afternoon. Now that she has an almost-one-year-old, she’ll be heading back to work on Thursday. Happy last day of mat leave.

And happy Halloween.

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Please excuse our year-long absence, but it’s been a busy year for both Penelope and I. Penelope is now the proud mummy to a very cute and happy little boy. Penelope’s son Momo takes up a lot of her time, and some of mine, as I get to go over and be the doting aunt.

Still, you might say, why not share Penelope’s new son with the world? So many people do it, and you’re right, if ever there was a shareable baby it’s Momo (which is not his real name by the way).

Momo and mum, enjoying a sunny autumn day.

So, since this kid is cute, and babies are such a blessing, why the lengthy delay? The answer is two-pronged.

1) Penelope has been far too busy to write. Babies need a lot of attention!

2) I had what was very nearly the worst year of my life, and I shut down.

I started blogging so that I could focus on what was good in my life, and not worry about what was bad, or missing. My first blog was a simple blog, written by me, cataloguing my adventures with Cadie. But I started to realize that I wanted to talk about more than just dog walking, dog grooming, and dogs on television, so I started this blog with my best bud. Here we could talk about lifestyle, and we could be adventurous about sports, food, and social activities. But then I also started a blog detailing my love of vintage porcelain and glass. From there I had a scary moment with my finances, and I had to take on a part-time job, and then my weekday job became a nightmare. Suffice it to say that my plate was full, my outlook was bleak, and I needed to retreat.

Blogging for me was about seeing the positives in my life, focusing on what was working (Cadie and porcelain) rather than what wasn’t (my weight, my finances). I was determined to keep blogging a positive space for myself: I was going to “fake it [being happy]! until I made it!”

And I tried. I took copious amounts of pictures; every time I passed a cute little house, made a new treat, or tried something new I documented it. My plan was always to come back to this place, and to be the happy, positive person that I thought I could be.

2011 came to an end, and 2012 started out with some good and some bad. Before the 3rd of the month I was offered a new weekday job. I LOVE it! It’s the perfect environment for me, and I feel that my career is finally starting to get back on track. However, with the good, we must take the bad, and sadly my grandmother died in early January. I miss her every day, but I’m glad that she is now at peace, and no longer lonely or depressed. My grandmother and my mother also conspired to give me a little financial assistance that has allowed me to downgrade my commitment to my part-time job, and it has even opened up some new professional opportunities for me.

After a year plus of hard-core purging my home is finally starting to come together, and I am starting to feel calm and happy and I am once again looking forward to a pleasant future.

The plan.

Penelope and I have been talking about starting this back up again for quite some time, so the plan is to do two posts this week–just a little something to get us started again. From there we will do one post every week, probably on Wednesdays. Life has changed, and it’s more complicated now, so we’re not going to make this a weight loss blog; instead this is a blog about navigating life. Eating foods that make us drool, figuring out how to manage a housekeeping schedule, some talk about our hobbies, and of course we’ll keep you posted on what we did over our weekends, and why they were awesome.

I’ve been sewing. Wait until you see what I’m making Momo for his birthday.

If any of you are still left, I hope you’ll stay with us as we move into the next stage of our life and blogging adventures.

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Happy Friday!

Happy Friday everyone! May your weekend be filled with good friends, great times, and delicious foods.

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So I had word yesterday morning from Fort Myers, Florida that my crafter has received her gifts (are these gifts? I don’t know, but let’s call them gifts.) Anyhow, Jhenna (http://deeringness.blogspot.com/) and I were put in contact through Zoe (http://agiraffeinascarf.wordpress.com/). Zoe is the organizer of the exchange.

Anyhow, as you know I started late. But I was lucky; I had some really pretty scraps of fabric lying around, so I got started with that. After reading Jhenna’s blog I decided that I would make her shoe bags. Jhenna was busy organizing her shoe collection so I decided that I would make her some drawstring storage bags that she could use for safe keeping. As I said I had some scraps left over from my tablecloth, so I started with this really pretty fabric, printed in England.

It’s good that I was able to get a jump on this project because it took me another 2 weeks to get to the fabric store. Once I was there I chose one of my favourite fabrics. It’s from Provence, and it’s just so classic and cheerful. I think everyone should have something made out of this. I have napkins. I think these last two fabrics go together really nicely.

But then I wanted something else to go with these two fabulous finds so I chose this fabric with the nice little red roses. It’s so pretty, and it was so soft that my needle went through it like butter. I have no idea where it was printed; my guess is the US.

What I don’t imagine Zoe could have ever guessed is that Fort Myers is a popular winter vacation spot for many Torontonians, and I wanted to make sure that Jhenna got something truly international, so I splurged on these fabulous fabrics, and I’m really happy with the way the whole project has turned out.

I had planned to send Jhenna 10 bags. I figured the average woman stores between 8 to 10 pairs of shoes, and I got through all 10 bags before the end of August. (It’s funny how long it takes to get to the post office sometimes.) Anyhow, I don’t know if you know this, but I don ‘t have a sewing machine, I sewed it all my hand. And I have to tell you, if you don’t do needle work, and you have a lot of stress in your life, you should start doing needle work. You can really sort through a lot of negative emotions shoving a needle in and out of an innocent piece of fabric.

The good news, Jhenna love the bags, and it has inspired her to continue working on her gift for her crafter. My next project? That will be a  couple of tablecloths for Penelope and my friend Bene. But I’m thinking I should send something to Zoe too. Zoe, can you use 10 drawstring bags?

My last question is, what do you think I should do with this fabric?

 

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