03 Jan 2019, 11:14

Reading Women 2019 list

I finished a book in a few hours yesterday, The Windfall. I had started reading Descent into Night, and it’s very interesting and compelling, but has dark themes and my brain needed a break from my usual intense reads.

I’ve decided that to maximize my reading I should always have three books on the go - a fun and light fiction book, a literary fiction, and a non-fiction. That way I won’t get stuck avoiding reading, when the subject matter gets too intense, and instead, and switch back when I’m ready for it.

I also read it with the Reading Women 2019 Challenge in mind.

** Reading Women 2019 **

  1. Mystery or thriller written by a woman of color

    • ✔ A Study in Scarlet Women part of The Lady Sherlock Series by Sherry Thomas
  2. A book about a woman with a mental illness

    • ✔ Heart Berries: A Memoir by Terese Marie Mailhot
  3. A book by an author from Nigeria or New Zealand

    • Americanha by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Nigeria)
    • Pounamu, Pounamu by Witi Ihimaera (Maori New Zealand)
    • The Bone People by Keri Hulme (New Zealand)
  4. A book about or set in Appalachia

    • What you’re getting wrong about Appalachia by Elizabeth Catte
  5. A children’s book

    • ✔ I read so many wonderful children’s books everyday… the benefits of having a toddler. Anything by Monique Gray Smith ranks high for me.
  6. A multigenerational family saga

    • Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
    • The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
    • Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
    • Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
  7. A book featuring a woman in science

    • Lab Girl by Hope Jahren
    • Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel
    • ✔ Vox by Christina Dalcher
  8. A play

    • A very polite genocide or the girl who fell to earth by Melanie J. Murray
    • The Monument by Colleen Wagner
    • Angélique by Lorena Gale (also playing at the Factory Theatre this year
  9. A novella

    • Home by Toni Morrison
  10. A book about a woman athlete

    • ‘The Frailty Myth: Redefining the Physical Potential of Women and Girls’ by Colette Dowling
    • ‘Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina’ by Misty Copeland
  11. A Lambda Literary Award winner

    • Hunger by Roxane Gay
    • Small Beauty by Jia Qing Wilson-Yang
  12. A myth retelling

    • A Thousand Beginnings and Endings by Ellen Oh
  13. A translated book published before 1945

    • Himself: The Autobiography of a Hindu Lady” , Translated and Adapted by Katherine Van Akin Gates from a book written in the Marathi language by Mrs. Ramabai Ranade
  14. A book written by a South Asian author

    • ✔ The Windfall by Diksha Basu (originally from New Delhi, India)
  15. A book by an Indigenous woman

    • ✔ Heart Berries by Terese Marie Mailhot
    • Pounamu, Pounamu by Witi Ihimaera (Maori New Zealand)
  16. A book from the 2018 Reading Women Award shortlist

    • ✔ Educated by Tara Westover
    • A Place for Us: A Novel Hardcover by Fatima Farheen Mirza
    • ✔ Heart Berries by Terese Marie Mailhot
  17. A romance or love story

    • ✔ An Extraordinary Union by Alissa Cole
  18. A book about nature

    • Rural Hours by Susan Fenimore Cooper
    • Gathering Moss: A Natural and Cultural History of Mosses
    • (doesn’t count for the challenge because it’s not by a woman, but I want to read this one anyway) The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate—Discoveries From a Secret World by Peter Wohlleben
  19. A historical fiction book

    • Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset, Tiina Nunnally (Translator)
  20. A book you bought or borrowed in 2019

    • Holding Still For As Long As Possible by Zoe Whittall
      • A friend lent me this book in exchange for The Hate You Give (also excellent)
  21. A book you picked up because of the cover

    • I will do this, but eventually. It’s worth taking a trip over to my favourite bookstore and perusing the shelves.
  22. Any book from a series

    • ✔ Murder is Binding by Lorna Barret (book 1 of Booktown Mysteries)
    • ✔ A Study in Scarlet Women part of The Lady Sherlock Series by Sherry Thomas
  23. A young adult book by a woman of color

    • On the Come Up - Angie Thomas

BONUS:

  1. A book by Jesmyn Ward

    • Men We Reaped
  2. A book by Jhumpa Lahiri

    • The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri

01 Jan 2019, 11:00

new year, same great us

I’ve changed my blog over to hugo, which was a nice little experiment in static site creation, and also wordpress to static site conversion.

A big step for me was asking for help from JC. I have a technology background, but through that experience have also acquired the biggest fear of not knowing things, and having that lack of knowledge applied either to my gender, or as a result of it.

I haven’t done much of anything from the Terminal in a while, and was out of practice, so his support really got me back to it, and feeling more comfortable again. I’m using Atom

This is my smallest blog, so it had a reasonable number of files to convert, and wouldn’t be too difficult to manually change things as needed, my other blog is over a decade old, and a bit more daunting to switch to a static site.

I followed this handy guide for switching over from Wordpress to Hugo. The Guide is over two years old, but still perfectly relevant.

The only real difference was that I didn’t have comments to export, and I don’t really want comments most of the time anyway (if only because they’re more likely to be people trying to I started by going to wordpress and exporting posts as xml.

I’m using github and netlify to store and deploy my site, and it’s been a lot of fun so far. I’ve been trying to find my passion for tech again and learning something new, based on knowledge I already had kicking around, from someone that 1. I feel safe to be wrong with, and 2. is great at non-judgemental support and advice, has been really exciting and fun.

Yesterday JC and I went out for dinner to celebrate while his mom watched the TinyHuman. We had such a nice time.

This morning I woke up bright and early and jumped in the lake.

19 Dec 2018, 15:37

Book Riot's 2019 Read Harder Challenge

I did BookRiot’s 2018 Read Harder Challenge, and it got me out of my usual genres and connected me with books I really loved that weren’t ones I would have picked up.

After our Tinyhuman was born, I had a really challenging time focusing on books for the first year or two, but in 2018, I managed to read over 40 books, at least in part as a result of the ReadHarderChallenge, but also just because my focus came back.

I don’t plan on getting too intense about checking off boxes that don’t excite me, but the newest challenge has been released, and I am getting into it again.

To get organized for next year, I’ve to started collecting some suggestions here, if you’ve any recommendations for me, I’d love to hear them!

You can see the post from bookriot here.

You can see my collection of 2019 ReadHarder books on GoodReads, arranged in no particular order right here.

I am lucky that most of these are available from the Toronto Public Library, and even luckier that many of them are available as e-books which has been my favourite and most effective way to get some read done. (And certainly makes it easier to read anywhere - when a selection of books is available right on my cellphone.)

(p.s. this list is still a work in progress)

Read Harder 2019

  1.  An epistolary novel or collection of letters

    • Microserfs - Douglas Coupland
      • I picked this book up several years ago (2015?) during the ROM’s Douglas Coupland installation, and it’s been on my “to read” list ever since.
    • Letters to a Young Poet, Ranier Maria Rilke
      • Someone mentioned this book was very inspiring to them, so I wanted to check it out.
    • I capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
    • Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff
  2. An alternate history novel

    • ✔ Naughts & Crosses by Malorie Blackman
      • I’ve gotten really excited about this genre and there is not nearly enough out there. Two young people are forced to make a stand in this thought-provoking look at racism and prejudice in an alternate society. Sephy is a Cross – a member of the dark-skinned ruling class. Callum is a Nought – a “colourless” member of the underclass who were once slaves to the Crosses.
      • I read this book and have a mixed feeling about it. The story was so interesting and compelling in the beginning, and then it felt like it sort of fizzled out by the end.
  3. A book by a woman and/or AOC (Authour of Colour) that won a literary award in 2018

    • ✔ Decent into the Night by Edem Awumey (Winner of the Governor Generals Literary Award, written in French by a male authour of colour and translated by a woman.)
    • Washington Black by Esi Edugyan (winner of the 2018 Giller Prize, Esi is also a woman authour of colour.)
  4. A humour book

    • You Can’t Touch My Hair: And Other Things I Still Have to Explain by Phoebe Robinson
    • ✔ This Is Just My Face: Try Not to Stare by Gabourey Sidibe
      • I laughed a lot reading this book - even when some of her topics weren’t ha ha funny. It’s a fun and interesting read about life as Gabourey Sidibe!
  5. A book by a journalist or about journalism

    • They Can’t Kill Us All: The Story of Black Lives Matter by Wesley Lowery a journalist with the Washington Post
    • Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou
  6. A book by an Authour of Colour set in or about space

    • Dawn by Octavia Butler
      • I’ve been working through the work of Octavia Butler, because it is all excellent, so this one was inevitable, but fits the category.
    • An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon
  7. An #ownvoices book set in Mexico or Central America

    • Umami - Laia Jufresa
  8. An #ownvoices book set in Oceania

    • Where We Once Belonged by Sia Figiel
    • Pounamu, Pounamu by Witi Ihimaera (Maori New Zealand)
    • The Bone People by Keri Hulme (New Zealand)
  9. A book published prior to January 1, 2019, with fewer than 100 reviews on Goodreads

    • Sanaaq by Mitiarjuk Nappaaluk, translated Bernard Saladin d’Anglure
    • Worldwalk by Steven Newman
  10. A translated book written by and/or translated by a woman

    • ✔ Decent into the Night by Edem Awumey (Winner of the Governor Generals Literary Award, written in French and translated by Phyllis Aronoff & Howard Scott.)
    • Sanaaq by Mitiarjuk Nappaaluk (written in inuktitut, translated Bernard Saladin d’Anglure)
    • The Life-Changing Manga of Tidying Up: A Magical Story. by Marie Kondo and Yuka Uramoto, trans. from the Japanese by Cathy Hirano
    • Visitation by Jenny Erpenbeck, Susan Bernofsky (Translator)
  11. A book of manga

    • The Life-Changing Manga of Tidying Up: A Magical Story. by Marie Kondo and Yuka Uramoto, trans. from the Japanese by Cathy Hirano
    • Library Wars by Hiro Arikawa
    • Red: A Haida Manda by Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas
  12. A book in which an animal or inanimate object is a point-of-view character

    • The Overstory by Richard Powers
    • Visitation by Jenny Erpenbeck, Susan Bernofsky (Translator)
  13. A book by or about someone that identifies as neurodiverse

    • The Psychopath Inside: A Neuroscientist’s Personal Journey into the Dark Side of the Brain by James H. Fallon
    • Too Loud, Too Bright, Too Fast, Too Tight: What to Do If You Are Sensory Defensive in an Overstimulating World by Sharon Heller
    • The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang (fiction about a neurodiverse character by a neurodiverse woman authour.)
    • ✔ Heartberries by Terese Marie Mailhot
  14. A cozy mystery

    • ✔ Murder is Binding (Booktown Mystery Series, Book #1) by Lorraine Bartlett
      • really enjoyed this one, super cozy mystery. I was a bit surprised at a few instances of casual ablism. It was written in 2008, and I don’t think the r-word was okay back then either. I’d probably read more from the Booktown series though.
    • Still Life by Louise Penny
    • ✔ Study in Scarlet Women part of The Lady Sherlock Series by Sherry Thomas
  15. A book of mythology or folklore

    • A Thousand Beginnings and Endings by Ellen Oh
  16. An historical romance by an AOC

    • ✔ An Extraordinary Union by Alyssa Cole
      • this book is something special. I just couldn’t put it down, and it was fun and sexy, while set in civil war times. Really well written and engaging characters I cared about. (and care about, and as a result, I’m interested in reading more of her work)
    • Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho
  17. A business book

    • It Doesn’t Have To Be Crazy at Work by David Heinemeier Hansson and Jason Fried
  18. A novel by a trans or non-binary author

    • I’ve Got a Time Bomb by Sybil lamb
    • All the birds in the sky by Charlie Jane Anders
    • Small Beauty by Jia Qing Wilson-Yang
  19. A book of nonviolent true crime

    • Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou
  20. A book written in prison

    • The House of the Dead by Dostoevsky
    • Life After Death By Damien Echols
  21. A comic by an LGBTQIA creator

    • Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
  22. A children’s or middle grade book (not YA) that has won a diversity award since 2009

    • This category is basically where most of our son’s books fit in.
    •  George by Kate Pavao
  23. A self-published book

    •  The Summer We Got Free
  24. A collection of poetry published since 2014

    • Night Sky with Exit Wounds by Ocean Vuong
    • Blackbird Song by Randy Lundy
    • ✔ The Sun and Her Flowers | Paperback Rupi Kaur
    • a place called No Homeland by Kai Cheng Thom

11 Oct 2018, 14:49

Field-trips with Friends

Today my adventure began bright and early. I went downtown (by myself) to take part in the Sunrise Ceremony at the IRSS Legacy Celebration at Nathan Phillips Square. I was late arriving and stood back and watched, I think I could have joined in. I probably should have, but felt uncomfortable and disrespectful about being late for it. (I have this thing with time.)

But it felt meaningful and with intention, as a fairly large group gathered to acknowledge the day. Tkaronto was projected on the left tower of City Hall. 

I met my partner at his office, picked up the small human, and we went back to City Hall to take in some of the programming. And I wanted to vote in the advanced polls that started today. We got it all done.

The kiddo was a hit at the polling area, and was excited to participate in a process we’ve talked about a bit. There was also a Daniel Tiger episode about voting for swings or a slide, and voting for a class pet ( a bunny or a turtle ) so the process of selection has been touched on in a variety of ways already.

He watched me fill in my ballot, and asked me what I was doing - I told him I was selecting the person who I thought would do the best possible job. 

A friend met us with their kiddo, and we got to watch a Lacrosse demonstration from The Toronto Rock, and admire some of artistry of the commemorative teepees and play in the adjoining open spaces. 

And my favourite part of the day - watching our kids play together.

There is nothing better than that. 

10 Oct 2018, 16:11

A Forest School Day

This morning after my partner left for work, we quickly got ready to get outside and go to the forest nearby. We’re lucky to hour our little forest, and I feel grateful to say things like “let’s visit our trees” on a regular basis. 

There was so much to learn and so much to do. We walked hand in hand for most of the trip to the park, but once we got past the traffic gates I let him go and he asked if he could run. I’m unsure how to feel about this question, or why he’s asking it, but I told him of course, but un-fun mom had to ask him to stay out of the puddles until after we had finished our walk, and were coming back home. 

We went to visit “our” trees, but our visit there was brief because in the distance, we saw a group of kids playing and yelling, and my TinyHuman was there for it. 

He asked “can I go play with them?” - I told him we could go over there, but it would be up to all of them if they played together. Can’t escape a lesson in consent I guess. 

So we all stayed together for a while, walking through the forest, and through paths that we normally didn’t go on. I love seeing the TinyHuman with other kids, because we don’t really do that often enough. Working on it, but I could be more diligent about setting up playdates and going to them. 

Eventually we parted ways at the zoo (because free or not, we do not go there,) and me and the little one went over to the gardens. We came across a tree with a strange growth and wondered what it was - he pointed and asked “What’s that?” I took 1 semester of botany in university, and vaguely remembered that it was the result infection - it’s called a Burl. So I told him that it was because the tree had been sick. But when we got home, I had to double check that information. 

I took 1 semester of botany in university, and vaguely remembered that it was the result infection - it’s called a Burl. So I told him that it was because the tree had been sick, but that we could look it up when we got home to make sure.

this is a picture of a burl

Burls, ,which look like weird growths on trees, happen as a result of the tree experiencing a stress of some sort - so things like injury, infection by a virus or fungus, or other environmental factors.

I think he found the idea that trees can get sick especially fascinating - because he repeated “trees get sick” in a sort of wonderfully awestruck and curious way while looking at this tree growth. Also ties into our very recent lesson of Mom gets sick too

We enjoyed the day running around tree trunks, and walked through the gardens, towards Grenadier Pond. I spotted a wooly bear caterpillar (aka Pyrrharctia isabella, aka Isabelle tiger moth) so we stopped in our tracks to watch them zoom across the trail way. 

Wooly bear caterpillars turn into isabelle tiger moths and I think I prefer them in caterpillar form - but that’s not my call, ha ha ha. 

Another person with a toddler came by, and decided to move the caterpillar off the trail, to a tree. I’m not sure if that was the right call, but her heart was in the right place, so I guess that’s as good as can be expected. Me and the little human were keeping the fuzzy dude safe on his journey up to that point. 

We read Lois Ehlert’s “Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf” a few times, which I hadn’t noticed was about an urban transplanted tree when I put it in my bag this morning - it was a bit funny to be reading it in this forest full of old trees - albeit still relevant because there are also many transplanted trees in High Park and the book has a bunch of more in depth (but simplified) information about trees and leaves.

We have a really lovely book about why leaves change colour appropriately called…. “Why Do Leaves Change Colour” (by Besty Maestro) which of course, I haven’t been able to find in the house yet this fall.

There are lots of really fantastic resources online about why leaves change colour, but I like this one.

One final thing before we went home - there was a sign near Grenadier pond, and the Tinyhuman asked me to read it. It’s a wordy, but interesting background on how Grenadier Pond came to be - history of waterways and shorelines and I learned what a weir is. _(A weir or low head dam is a barrier across the horizontal width of a river that alters the flow characteristics of water and usually results in a change in the height of the river level.)_ They suggest visiting their website to learn more - so we totally did. Well, I did. The tiny human was already napping.

We walked back around, up a very tall staircase, around the High Park children’s teaching garden, and behind Colbourne Lodge, and walked back on a well worn trail to our trees, to play and build nests and watch fat squirrels diligently collecting acorns for the winter. 

It was a lovely morning of hiking, learning, and fun.