Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Monday, July 25, 2011

This is more like it

Probably all that feeling sorry for myself paid off - not only did I score two new pairs of shoes at the mall this afternoon (hard at work here, obviously), but I've also checked into a new hotel for the next two days and it's none too shabby!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

One year (plus two days) of the GGs

One year and 2 days ago, I challenged myself to read all the winners of Canada's Governor General's Award for Fiction. All 73 of them.

Why, you might ask? Trust me, I've asked myself the same thing over the last 367 days. I suppose it was mostly for the challenge, but also to read books I wouldn't have chosen for myself. I enjoy Canadian literature, and it was a way to discover new writers - possibly ones I had never heard of.

Am I done? No. I'm currently on #46, The Watch That Ends the Night (1959) by Hugh MacLennan.

Have I learned anything? I'm not sure. I suppose I've learned something about what kinds of genres and styles seemed popular in different times, and what kinds of themes seemed to be on the collective cultural conscience.

Have I found new authors, and do I have favorites so far? For sure. Of course, many of the winners are some of the greats who I loved before - Robertson Davies, Margaret Atwood, Alison Munro, Michael Ondaatje, etc. But I've found some new favorites - Richard B. Wright's Clara Callan stands out, as does Douglas Glover's Elle and Gabrielle Roy's The Street of Riches.

I've grown a new appreciation for short stories during this endeavor. In the past I had avoided them; felt that I couldn't get into them before they ended. At times, I still have troubles. I'm a subway reader - I've read most of the books on the commute in to and out of Manhattan - and when the commute ends before the story does, I find that I return to the story confused, unable to pick up the pace. But still, there have been some short story collections on the list that I've enjoyed, particularly those of Alice Munro.

I've also hated some of them. There are been a few books that I had to push myself through with bribes; where I had the number of pages to the end on my mind at all times. I'm looking at you, The Fall of the Titan. Where do you get off writing a 600 page book like that?

And here I am, one year in, with 28 titles to go. Probably 29, since the next winner will be announced this autumn. While 28 books to go seems like a lot - having come this far it doesn't seem so bad from where I'm sitting. What will I do when I finish these? Well, I might have a go at reading the Giller Prize winners, but only after a couple months of reading all things non-Canadian.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Dear Target at Atlantic Terminal, Brooklyn

Dear, Dear Target at Atlantic Terminal, Brooklyn,

I remember when you first opened, and I was so excited that you were coming to Brooklyn. Having been to Targets in other cities, I knew I loved you. I wanted you, and your stuff, so bad.

But Target in Atlantic Terminal? I'm afraid you are the black sheep of the Target family. Visiting you is an exercise in patience and disappointment. Your shelves are empty, over-picked and in complete disarray. What's left has had it's packaging opened, or is the one last ugly color, or just isn't what I was looking for, exactly.

I know that there are still things I love about you. Saturday mornings with you are sometimes so peaceful and satisfying; before the crowds have plundered your wares and I can see the (almost) full selection of your goods. And, I love the Archer Farms brand, truly, I do. Your Archer Farms organic milk tastes delightful. Archer Farms coffee is cheap and fair trade! And best of all, Archer Farms dill pickle cashews are beyond amazing.

So, you see why I come? Why I don't just go to Kmart? I want to love you, Target at Atlantic Terminal. I try to love you, and I forgive you over and over again.

Sometimes when I arrive at the Target at Atlantic Terminal, I am ready to spend money. These are usually times when I've left the husband at home and I have time to peruse to my heart's content. In those times, when I am ready to spend lots of money on things I probably don't need - I try to get a cart. A cart to fill with things! Things that cost money! However, finding a cart in this store is like looking for an endangered parrot in the Amazon. You see, besides the customers using those few carts, your employees fill those carts with stuff - I assume to stock the shelves - but instead they leave abandoned carts around the store while they congregate. And you see, when I don't have a cart, I will not buy so much stuff.

Furthermore, when I want to buy some things, but not so many things, I will look for a basket. A basket! At Target, Atlantic Terminal! If you've ever been there, right now you're calling me a madwoman! Because baskets are not to be had at this Target!

It's not just your mess, though. It's not just that you are shockingly badly stocked. It's not just that there are no carts or baskets to be found. It's your employees. Few of them are good, some of them are fine, and several of them are absolutely shockingly bad and should probably not be employed in a job that deals with customers.

Let me share a recent experience. As I was checking out, my check-out boy was chit-chatting with his neighbor, complaining about a previous customer, about how she was "a retard". How charming! I love hearing people both bitch about customers (in front of customers), but also use offensive language!

And here we come to yesterday. As I was wandering the aisles on the second floor, lamp in hand, looking for a cart, I saw a customer, cell-phone to ear, approach a congregation of Target employees (they love to hang out at the top of the escalators) and ask the group where the down escalator was. Yes, he was on his phone and that's annoying, and yes the escalator was right behind him, but, dear Target employees, I'm pretty sure the answer to his question was NOT "How did you get up here, motherfucker?" I'm thinking that wasn't the customer-servicey way of answering the question. I mean, it's been awhile for me, but I'm pretty sure that's frowned upon.To be fair! To the employee, the customer had turned around by that point, and with his cellphone to his ear probably didn't hear him. But I did. And the other customers nearby did. And your fellow colleagues, with whom you were laughing about it, also did. And you know what, that was pretty tacky.

But, hey! That is just you being you, Target at Atlantic Terminal.

And, I know working with customers, and people in general sucks. And I know this is Brooklyn! This is a 'fuggedaboutit' and big city attitude. But really, you're a Target, so act like it.

Yours truly,
A Customer Looking to Spend Money

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

More Yellow Options

I ordered two more yellow samples from Flor.

I haven't put them against my bedsheets or curtains, because that would entail cleaning my room and making my bed.

#1 is Rake Me Over Yellow

#2 is Toy Poodle Yellow

# 3 is Feelin' Groovy Yellow (the original).

It's possible that these are all the same yellow, but numbers 1 and 2 seem to me to be slightly more full of yellow. The Feelin' Groovy is slightly paler, and so color-wise, I prefer the two new ones.

Rake Me Over and Toy Poodle are, of course, more expensive. I seem to have a sixth sense for choosing/wanting the expensive things.

How about a feel test? And a cat test?


These news samples are more plush. Rake Me Over is a bit too shaggy for my liking, but Toy Poodle feels pretty good. I think #2 - Toy Poodle is the favorite. But, am I crazy? Are these three samples the same yellow, just different thicknesses?

Friday, July 1, 2011

Cottage Life

This long weekend, like every long weekend - and every day in summer - I'm dreaming about being at the cottage.

Like most Canadians, visiting the cottage in the summer is a tradition. Growing up, we'd visit my grandmother's cottage near Ottawa - a secluded cabin on a peninsula, with no bathroom. Just an outhouse for two out in the woods. Terrifying at night. Who needs a two-seater outhouse? Do you want to bring your friend? 

The other night I was babysitting, and to entertain myself while the wee one slept, I stocked up on a bunch of magazines. I picked up House and Home, which had a tour of dancer Karen Kain's beautiful cottage.

From House and Home

As glamorous as it is, I bet she wishes she had a two-seater outhouse. If she does have one, it wasn't showcased in House and Home.

While beautiful, her cottage lacks a cottage feel to me. It looks like West Elm, not a rustic retreat. Her cottage kitchen is pretty much my dream kitchen, though.

From House and Home
These days, my parents have a cottage near Parry Sound, ON. It lacks the sophistication of Kain's place, but when it comes to character, it wins out. Our cottage decor could be described as a place where furniture goes to die. Imagine, if you will, a beige couch (chesterfield is a better description), with flowers in various shades of orange. Imagine said chesterfield to have the feel of a burlap sack, and the firmness of a rock. The cottage is also the end of the road for any book that my parents read - a jumble of things to read, including every issue of Toronto Life and Cottage Life ever published in the last 8 years. Among the books are usually a selection of power tools (decor by Dad), and always at least one dog.

Although it's not glamorous, it is absolute heaven. A place to go where there isn't even anything to do, but read, nap, have endless Trivial Pursuit championships and eat. And, on a warm day, enjoy a swim.

One of the hardest things about living far away from home (besides, you know, missing my family) is that I can't just pop up to the cottage on a weekend. A trip there takes planning, and a good chunk of time. This summer we won't make it up there, and that's heartbreaking for me. And so, this long weekend, I'm left with only daydreaming about a quiet lake and a jumble of old books.

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