Wednesday, October 1, 2014

On Hiatus

If you're stopping by for one reason or another there's not much to see of late. I have been and still will be on hiatus until I have completed my Master's of Arts degree in English Literature. Please feel free to peruse my archives; there's a lot of cool stuff in there!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Brandon to Fredericton: MB to NB: Our Epic Road Trip

Since I'll be moving the 3500km from Brandon, Manitoba to Fredericton, New Brunswick at the end of this month, Cowboy Tex (formerly known as Farmer Joe) and I planned our holidays around taking a road trip there so that I could get a feel for the place! It was lovely and I'll try my best to create a mostly-pictures-few-words blog post all about it.

I've always known Canada is a beautiful country. I've driven all the way to the West Coast and taken the ferry to Vancouver Island, but I hadn't, until this trip, driven East. (Manitoba is in the centre - kind of - of the country, for those not up to snuff on their Canadian geography).

Northern Ontario is majestic, almost as much so as Western Alberta and British Columbia. It makes up the southern portion of the Canadian Shield and it is wonderously rocky and full of coniferous forests covering rolling hills and valleys.

Lake Superior, living up to its name.

Quebec is a bit more like the prairies that I am familiar with, very much an agricultural province. Quebec intimated the heck out of me because its official language is French. Despite the fact that I wish, more than many things, that I spoke French, I do not. I feel very guilty about that. Perhaps after I complete my Master's, learning French will be the next thing on my list.

I spent a lovely, albeit swelteringly hot, day and two nights
in Montreal with a dear friend of mine. 

The city is brilliant in its historic nature and vibrant culture.
I've been told by many people that I would love Montreal and they were not wrong! 
It would have been wonderful to have taken
actual engagement photos here, but it was so
hot that I just couldn't bring myself to change
into something engagement-photo worthy.

New Brunswick was breath-taking! After a rather flat Quebec, our most eastern destination presented us with rolling hills and vibrant greenery. The St. John River runs right through Fredericton creating a consistently cool breeze to blow throughout the city. 

Fredericton, as a city, is wonderful. It is a small city (60,000 people). It is a city full of art and culture. It is a city with a strong government and military presence.
It is an old city.
It is a city with a strong university presence. 

 I felt at home there. 

Celebrate the Small Things (Aug 2 - a couple days late)

One of these days I'll actually post my weekly celebrations for VikLit's blog hop hosted over at Scribblings of an Aspiring Author on time...

On Monday I handed in my completed creative writing thesis! I am celebrating No More Edits! This coming Friday is my defence. I am excited and terrified - a very strange feeling.

This is actually a chicken egg,
but just imagine a more intricate
design on a much larger egg!
I had lunch and played catch-up with my best friend on Wednesday and got the invitations to her Bachelorette Party sent out on Thursday. Another check mark on my To-Do List!

Friday, I headed out for one more visit with my Baba before I head out East at the end of this month. During that visit she approved of the ostrich eggs I ordered on eBay which means that I can order more for her to decorate to serve as centre pieces for my wedding. She has two years to do 15...hopefully!

While I have your attention, I'd also like to add the beginning of Blogust, an initiative by Shot@Life, a United Nations Foundation. Every day in August a designated blogger posts as part of Blogust and for every comment on his or her blog a donation is made to purchase a life-saving vaccine for children around the world. Last year I visited and commented every day and this year I am doing the same. I hope you'll consider joining me!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Let's Play Catch Up - Awards Theme

Eons ago, June 4 to be exact, M.J. over at M.J. Joachim's Writing Tips passed on a beautiful award to me, Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award! Lovely, right?! M.J. runs all kinds of cool blog challenges and then showcases the winners on her Blog Hopper Marathon Wall of Fame. You should really check her out. I've won two "events" and they've been super fun! M.J. is one of five sisters - wow - and so she passed this award on to five blogging sisters. I only have one sister, a younger sister, but since I've always been the older sister, I am going to take this opportunity to pass this award along to my older sister in the blogging world, Zoe from rewritten. She's brilliant. She's zany. She's everything I could want in a real flesh and blood older sister. Lucky for me, I at least get to have an e-relationship with her!

Speaking of Zoe, she nominated me for a different award on June 12 (yes, eons ago as well), Best Moment Award. All you have to do for this award is write or record and post an acceptance speech and then pass it along to someone(s) that you feel worthy of the award. I was going to make my first attempt at a vlog for this one, but I just have to admit that I can't bring myself to make the time. So without further ado, here is my very short acceptance "speech" - Zoe, you are a beautiful soul and I love you. I hope some day we will grace each others presences in person. Thank you for this award! Some of my best blog moments come when I read your comments. Now, I am passing this along to Me from Scribblings, another beautiful soul that brightens my blog world.

Finally, there is Deanie from Thoughts and Ideas from Deanie Humphrys-Dunne who recently (yes, July 25 is recently) awarded me with a Wonderful Team Member Readership Award. Recipients are supposed to name 14 nominees over 7 days or all at once. I really haven't been blogging much of late so I think for this one, I will just go through and list the last 14 bloggers who commented on (a.k.a read and acknowledged) my blog.
T. Drecker from Kidbits
Zoe Byrd from rewritten
Viklit from Scribblings of an Aspiring Author
Rebeccah Giltrow from Rebeccah Writes
Lara Lacombe
Kate Larkindale from Fiction and Film
Me from Scribblings
Suzanne Lucas from Times Squared
Nancy LaRonda Johnson from Writer's Mark
Mei from Diary of a Fair Weather Diver
A month of....Blog
Diana Wilder from ...about myself, by myself
Sandy from Traveling Suitcase
Vidya Sury from Coffee With Mi
Thank you all for reading my blog!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Canadian Reading Challenge Review: Several Women Dancing by Paul Dutton

When the lovely and talented author/blogger Marie Landry from Ramblings of a Daydreamer did a call out to see if people were interested in a second annual Canadian Reading Challenge, I told her that I would commit to reading and reviewing at least one book that met the criteria for the challenge. I'm a fellow Canuck after all and us igloo inhabiting, dog-sled driving (I joke, I joke, I kid, I kid) northerners have to stick together! Here it is, the last day to link up a review, and it's Brandy just under the wire.

I met author and sound poet (seriously, take a minute and check that out) Paul Dutton in 2010 when my creative writing professor invited him to do a reading as part of literary series at our university. The man is a genius, maybe a little crazy, but they say there is a fine line between genius and insanity! After hearing a very short excerpt from his novel, Several Women Dancing, I had to have it, had to read it and one cannot simply purchase a book directly from an author and not have him or her sign it. The inscription reads: "For Brandy in Brandon, Drink it in sips or gulp it down. Paul Dutton," and now for a brief review.

Move over E L James with your unrealistic virgin girl-child turned doormat nymphomaniac and abusive dictator/borderline misogynist (if you haven't guessed it yet, I hated Fifty Shades of Grey, well, the 6 chapters I actually forced myself through, anyway), and make room for some real Erotica. Several Women Dancing is not for everyone. It is raw. It is highly sexual, some might say vulgar, others might say inappropriate, but I am not one of those people. I loved it.

The novel is told in first person narrative through a male voice who frequents strip clubs and inevitably becomes obsessed with one of the dancers, Black Satin. Dutton takes the reader through fantasy after sexual fantasy and does this in such a way that the reader is never really sure if the encounters described are real or fictional. The days, cities, even seasons become muddled in the man's mind as he lives his life from one experience involving Black Satin to the next. The novel is just so honest and I think that is why I enjoyed it. I think that honesty is what makes it so believable and such a great piece of literature. It is disturbing and uncomfortable at times especially when Spencer engages in fantasies of an Oedipal nature, but it is all part of the raw honesty that I appreciated so much in this novel.

Here's my favorite passage (don't worry, it's rather tame in the grand scheme of the novel): "I blame the candles (so long since I'd had a candlelit meal); I blame the meal (thick cream soup, a subtly spiced casserole, a bottle of wine); I blame the wine (a vintage Burgundy, the last of which we sipped on the living-room couch); I blame the couch (plush and comfortable, inducing a lassitude augmented by the classical guitar playing on the stereo); I blame the stereo (at the end of the record the room filled with silence); I blame the silence (breathing a faint sigh, she leaned her head on the back of the couch, where I'd stretched out my arm); I blame my arm (lifting it a little as a prelude to moving it, I caused her head to roll slightly towards me and saw her smile); I blame her smile (it increased the flutter in my stomach, the trembling in my hands, the shortness of my breath, the dryness of my mouth, the pounding of my heart); I blame my heart." Beautiful, right?!

Overall, Several Women Dancing is riveting and fresh! If I use Marie's rating scale: I loved it! So, if you can keep an open mind, pick it up and enjoy some real literary erotica - Canadian style!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Celebrate the Small Things - July 26 (3 week back log)

Yikes, folks! I haven't written a blog post since July 5th when I Celebrate[d] the Small Things with VikLit and the other blog hoppers over at Scribblings of an Aspiring Author. That means I have three weeks of celebrations to catch up on, but I'll try to keep them brief.

On July 6, the last day at my sister's in Leduc, Alberta, she and I, and a friend of hers did the Colour Run in Edmonton. I did it for fun and to raise a few more funds for the Student Refugee Program. It's an ongoing effort of mine, so if I can twist your rubber HERE!

I thought I would be celebrating handing in the final version to the committee on Friday, July 12. I was wrong. My advisor had other plans for me the likes of a third extensive edit. Those edits along with packing for my trip on July 13 are the reasons I didn't post that week. I can celebrate, however, the completion and handing in of my third massive edit!

Friday, July 12 was also my last day of work before heading out on two weeks of holidays! Now that is really something to celebrate!

Sometime in that week between July 6 and 12, we welcomed Memphis into our home. He's an adopted 5-year old Chihuahua from a local animal rescue organisation in our city.

The whole next week, July 13 to 19, was just one massive celebration. Farmer Joe, who I have now taken to calling Cowboy Tex since we moved from the farm into the city, and I started out on a massive 3500km road trip from Brandon, Manitoba where we live, to Fredericton, New Brunswick where I will be starting my Master of Arts in English this fall. I even enjoyed the driving. The main points of smaller celebrations within this major celebration are:
-Spending two nights and a full day in Montreal with my beautifully brilliant friend, Haley.

-Spending three nights and two full days in Fredericton familiarising myself with the university and the city.

-Getting a tour of the campus (especially the library) and meeting my grad school advisor.

Other celebrations that occurred from July 13-19 include:
-finding out that I got into the mature student residence for the fall and connecting with my roommate to start planning our living arrangements.
-finding a UNB Mom t-shirt at the campus book store to bring home for my Mom.
-being offered (and, of course, accepting) a position as a Regional Coordinator for WUSC starting in September. This volunteer position comes along with two trips to Ottawa, Ontario! I am really excited about taking on this leadership role with an organisation that means so much to me.

We started the trip home from Fredericton on July 20. The biggest celebration on the return trip, short of actually getting home, snuggling with my dogs, and sleeping in my own bed, was staying in Kingston, Ontario with another brilliant friend of mine. After 5 days staying places without air conditioning when the temperatures were 35 degrees Celsius above, Yvonne had central air and provided me with my first excuse to have a hot shower. It was heaven.

All of that brings me to one more celebration for this week, July 20-26. On Wednesday, I met with my thesis advisor again and despite a few, ok a lot, more edits, she did say that this time (the fourth time) she didn't need to see the entire document again, only a few short pieces! That, my friends, is celebration worthy indeed!

Cheers, everyone! Now, to try and catch up on visits and comments! See you and your blog soon!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Celebrate the Small Things - July 5 (I'm on Holidays!)

I’ve been on holidays this last week so what better reason is there to celebrate with VikLit and the other Celebrate the Small Things blog hoppers than that?

From Friday night to Monday afternoon, I was with one of my brilliant best friends in Calgary, Alberta and that is something definitely worth celebrating!  Calgary was just hit by one of the worst flash floods that the city has ever seen. There is literally billions of dollars of damage. Some houses were completely washed away, some “only” had eleven feet of water in them. Thankfully, where my girlfriend was living was unaffected – that is something to celebrate. I think something else worth celebrating is how, in the face of disaster, an entire city can come together to help one another. Across the city, people were opening their homes to the masses of people who were forced to evacuate. Across the city, people were coming together to shovel mud and sewage from strangers’ homes. Across the city, people were coming together for the sake of helping each other, receiving nothing in return. It is altruism at its finest and I am celebrating my renewed faith in humanity.

On Monday afternoon, I took the bus from Calgary to Leduc, Alberta to visit my baby (25-year old) sister. The free wifi on the bus was definitely celebration worthy as it made the four hour bus ride fly by.

Monday was also Canada Day! Fireworks and patriotism – enough said!

I’ve been at my sister’s since Monday, relaxing, sunbathing, drinking beer, watching satellite tv, and really just vegging! My Mom got here Tuesday morning so we’ve just been having some good ol’ family time for the last week. Mom and I are doing the twelve hour drive back on Sunday which I don’t look forward to, but at least we’ll be doing it together.

Despite the fact that I am, indeed, on holidays, I did have to finish the second edit of my Creative Writing Thesis. I handed it in (electronically, of course) to my professor on Wednesday. Celebrations are in order for having accomplished that. Next Friday, when I actually hand in the finished product to the Thesis committee, will be cause for a much bigger celebration!

My final celebration for this week is the supper that I just ate: steak, crab legs, shrimp skewers, garlic toast, seasoned mashed potatoes, and Caesar salad. Yum!

Hope everyone had a wonderfully celebratable week!