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Summer reading

I’m behind. I signed up for a Goodreads 2014 Reading Challenge and am 6 books behind my self-imposed schedule of one-a-week. I found myself going through old posts tagged books for inspiration when I came across my science fiction reading project post from 2012. In it I wrote of wanting to get through all of NPR’s Top 100 Science Fiction & Fantasy books.

As of right now I have read 78 on that list (Note: I count a series as read if I’ve gone through at least 2 books. Some series I will or have finished. Some I won’t). I have stalled a bit, but maybe I can put a dent in the 22 remaining this summer, which are:

38. Flowers For Algernon, by Daniel Keys
40. The Chronicles Of Amber, by Roger Zelazny
41. The Belgariad, by David Eddings *
44. Ringworld, by Larry Niven *
50. Contact, by Carl Sagan.
55. The Last Unicorn, by Peter S. Beagle
56. The Forever War, by Joe Haldeman
61. The Mote In God’s Eye, by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle (Kindle)
66. The Riftwar Saga, by Raymond E. Feist
68. The Conan The Barbarian Series, by R.E. Howard
69. The Farseer Trilogy, by Robin Hobb
73. The Legend Of Drizzt Series, by R.A. Salvatore
76. Rendezvous With Rama, by Arthur C. Clarke (TPL)
78. The Dispossessed, by Ursula K. LeGuin
81. The Malazan Book Of The Fallen Series, by Steven Erikson
86. The Codex Alera Series, by Jim Butcher
87. The Book Of The New Sun, by Gene Wolfe
88. The Thrawn Trilogy, by Timothy Zahn
95. The Mars Trilogy, by Kim Stanley Robinson *
96. Lucifer’s Hammer, by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle
97. Doomsday Book, by Connie Willis (TPL)
100. The Space Trilogy, by C.S. Lewis (Kindle)

All are downloaded or ordered through the stellar Toronto Public Library system (TPL) and ready to go. Maybe this time I can get through The Dispossessed. Wish me luck.

* I think I’ve read these already but I could be wrong.

catching up

Yes, I did get in to the Brewmaster Program at Niagara College. And yes, I’ve almost got my Second Career application ready to send off to see if I can get any help to pay for it. Accommodations and transportation have been sorted out. I’ll be renting a room from our pal Moose during the week and commuting with our old car (Keith bought a newer Mazda 3 for him to use). I’m kinda looking forward to being back in the place I grew up – Moose’s house is about 2 concessions away from my old high school. Plus his backyard has a hammock and a firepit, so what’s not to like?

2014-06-04 12.25.38

Moose’s backyard in early spring. Looks much greener now.

I have a new blog, this time one related to all things beer-y. It was called Goodale and Beer, but I have forsaken that for the much snappier Hop Kat. For anyone still counting, this brings the total number of blogs started since 2005 up to 9, with three still being active: HopKat (beer), Katitude (photo-a-day), and this one.

I’m working part time now at the Bulk Barn. I was given a promotion and a raise after about 3 weeks, and am  now a cashier supervisor. It’s close enough to walk to, so between walking there and back, and being on my feet for most of a 6-hour shift, I’m over my 10,000 step fitness goal every day that I work. I come home smelling of candy and spices, which is not nearly as nice you would think it would be.

I’ve signed up to take the Fresh Meat skating course again through Toronto Roller derby. This is the third time. I have informed The Knee that I will be finishing it this time whether it likes it or not. It replied by pointing out that I will need to get my ass off the couch and away from Netflix if I want this to happen. I am taking its advice as I wish to keep walking when I get old(er).

The motorcycle is uncovered and I’ve been out on it a few times. I’m noticing that the anxiety and borderline panic is returning. Awesome.

Putting together my summer list for 2014. There’s lots to do. I would really like it if “worrying about money” didn’t make it on the list, but I fear that’s the only given.

Overall, life is good. There are flies in the ointment, but when isn’t there?



After all the craziness of January and February, I thought that slowing down for March would be a welcome change. The chemistry course is done, marks and portfolio have been submitted for the college application, the 4 websites for clients are either done or on track, and all blogs are caught up.

It feels weird. I’m fidgety. I’m laying in bed right now, at 11:23 on a Saturday morning, wondering what it is I should be/could be doing. I’ve been awake since 6, having taken Keith to the airport. He won’t be back until Monday night, so I don’t have him to bump around with.

I am feeling overwhelmed by waiting right now, if that can be a thing, instead of doing. Waiting for mid-March when I’ll find out if I’ve been accepted or not, waiting to find out which way my life is going to go in the short term, Plan A or Plan B/C/D. Waiting for someone, anyone to look at my resume and at least call me in for an interview. Waiting for next week. Waiting until I need to go to tonight’s derby double-header. Even waiting until I get hungry enough to drag my ass out of bed and find something to eat.

Now might be a good time to address some other projects that have been shelved; writing, editing the novel, knitting a sweater. I might even take another course, maybe the grade 12 Writers’s Craft, Canadian History or Philosophy courses.

Now might be a good time to review the referee hand signals and penalty codes for tonight.

Not would also be a good time to stop waiting and just get the fuck out of bed.

Did it!

Feeling quite proud of this.


Instructions for a perfect day

There’s a certain feeling that accompanies a planned Thanksgiving long weekend away to a Northern cottage when the weatherman says words like sunny, unseasonably warm, Indian summer. The dawning realization that you can take the motorcycle rather than the car brings with it an anticipation of joy that is exactly like what you felt the night before Christmas or your birthday.

I can ride up on Thursday, you think. And smile.

You grab the sidebags and start playing packing Tetris, trying to get as much in the two hard cases as possible, paring it down to that which is absolutely necessary. One sweatshirt, one long-sleeve shirt, one book, etc. You roll jeans and shirts around two growlers of beer and pull out the extra pair of shoes; beer is more important than shoes.

thanksgiving rideYou open up old maps of your Dad’s, folded and unfolded so many times that the folds are close to dissolving, leaving you with so many loose rectangular puzzle pieces. You compare the layout of the old highways to the new ones on Google Maps to see if there are any places where the old roads remain to be explored. You plan a route by finding the roads with the most curvy squiggly lines and connecting them, and so are able to make a trip that would take 4 hours by car on 4-lane highway turn into something that will be closer to 7 hours from door to door.

Continue reading

2013 Retrospective

plot twist


I’m going to look at 2013 as the year of the plot twist, and move on. I’m not saying that life went wrong, but it certainly had an unexpected detour. I thank my beloved, my family and my friends for all the times they talked me off the ledge by reminding me that I have both mad skills, intelligence and the support of the people around me.

I like this representation of my year, a mosaic of all of the daily photos. Going by this, 2013 wasn’t as bad as all that.

2013 collagesm

Click to embiggen.

the Trip

We booked the trip in April, exactly 3 weeks before I was let go from my teaching job. I can’t tell you how many time’s I’d thought we should cancel it as more and more resumes went out with less response. I did bring it up to Keith a few times, that we should maybe cancel it as there was no way I could pay for any of it, but he just smiled his Keith smile and said, that’s what nest eggs are for, isn’t it, and we found ourselves at Toronto Pearson International Airport on December 22, our 10th anniversary and also the day of one helluva ice storm.

I’m pretty sure you don’t care to hear about our flights that got cancelled (2), the lines we waited in (4), or the people we talked to (lots). We watched the departure board as flight after flight got cancelled and watched people being ushered through the doors that would lead them back through Canadian customs and then home again. I wish I’d taken a picture of the departure board – everything was cancelled except for our new flight to Cleveland. Which we got to just as the much-delayed flight to Vegas was boarding. Our luggage didn’t make the transfer in time, but we got to our room a the MGM Grand exactly when we thought we would.

All we had to do is swing by McCarran the next day to get our suitcase that had come in on the next flight, and the road trip started. So glad we had unlimited mileage on the rental car.


Our road trip: Vegas > Grand Canyon > Monument Valley > Zion National Park > San Luis Obispo > Half Moon Bay > Ridgecrest > Vegas

I’ve had people ask me when we got back, what was the best part of the vacation, and I try hard to answer it but it was all so great. Of course there were all kinds of standout moments, like drinking a nice stout while watching the sun set from our hotel room in Monument Valley, challenging my agoraphobia by standing 10′ away from the sans-guardrail edge of Horseshoe Bend, walking along Lone Rock Beach aka Lake Silencio from Doctor Who. There was the amazing Christmas dinner at Zion Mountain Ranch and the starlit walk back to our cabin, where we awoke to a view of grazing buffalo outside our window. The drive along Highway 1 from San Luis Obispo north along the coast was incredibly lovely, and was capped off in Half Moon Bay by the best sunset I have every seen and the best pizza I have ever eaten. The drive back to Las Vegas through Death Valley was surreal and stark, and we finished the trip with the after dark tour at the Neon Museum.

In the end, I’m glad we didn’t cancel it. We hadn’t gone anywhere together for a while, and we needed it.

Some of the trip photos; more can be found here

Some of the trip photos; more can be found here

Trading card time

It has been a week of doing that thing I most hate doing – writing about myself.

I know, I know, I write about myself all the time; there’s Twitter, Facebook and here. But those are different, fun. Writing something serious or semi-serious about myself for other people to read makes my procrastination gene work overtime.

This morning, I emailed my portfolio for the Brewmaster application. It’s been proofread and edited by 3 people other than myself, and I still found a grammar issue this morning upon the eleventy-hundredth reading. *head desk. I did the two tricks I was shown when I worked at the print shop – read it out loud (2 more issues) and read it backwards word by word (no more issues). I could re-write sentences forever, so made myself finally hit the Send button. I only checked 5 times before sending that I had attached the right file. And so far, 4 times after sending. Yes, I am that paranoid about it.

Then on to the other one. This is substantially less critical, but still needs to be right. It’s time to write my copy for the Toronto Roller Derby trading cards. I couldn’t help but laugh at the typo on last year’s – it’s so me. What made it funnier was the fact that it wasn’t my typo!

After much thought, this is what I’m going with:

Spirit Animal: Grumpy Cat*

Three Likes: Beer, motorcycles and Doctor Who

Three dislikes: Bad coffee, romantic comedies and To Do lists

Is known for: Refusing to act her age

I’ve decided to go with last year’s picture as it’s one of the few pictures of me that I like. That and the fact I’ve put on weight during my unemployment, and I can’t keep denying how much if I have actual proof, now can I?


*Keith asked me why Grumpy Cat – she can’t help the fact that she looks so grumpy all the time, and apparently is quite a lovely and sweet cat. Not that I’m saying I’m lovely and sweet, but I’m a damn sight nicer than my Resting Bitch Face  would lead people to believe.

December madness

Cross posted from, because I’m lazy right now.

I tell myself every year that this year will be different, this year I will be as prepared for the December holiday madness as it is possible to be.

I was on the right track; I realized early on that there would be no way to knit gifts for my nieces and nephews. This decision coincided with an email from the World Wildlife Fund, and the gifts were purchased and sent in record time. We are not going to be around for the holiday itself, so the usual travel itinerary between Stratford, Sudbury and Oakville does not need to be sorted, hostess gifts, presents and food do not need to be organized.

And yet, I am still discombobulated. Because of the misunderstanding in the due dates for my marks, I’ve had to drop the teacher-led class for a self-paced online grade 12 chemistry class. To say it has been difficult is an understatement; the frustration of not understanding it as quickly as I would like combined with the stress of the expedited timeline reduced me to tears in lesson two. Phone calls from far-off bff’s shook me out of it, and I have learned (again) to ask for help. I now know that I know not one but THREE people with chemistry-related degrees, and the science teacher at my old school has offered to help me with my homework.


Then on to the application to Niagara College itself, and I am stressing out over every aspect of the portfolio submission. The little voice in the back of my head whispers that I am too old, too late and without enough relevant experience to get it. The little voice would rather I not try than be turned down. Words fail to express how much I hate that little voice.

I am also trying not to slip in to my usual winter hermit mode. Have met some former colleagues for lunch, and went out on Monday with Jen from Ltd Supply to check out the Indie Ale House. It’s hard to say which was more delicious, the burger or the Christmas porter. Like I said to Jen, a good burger should fall apart before you’re finished which this one did in spades. The porter had a lovely warn gingerbread taste going for it, making it a perfect dessert for the meal.

We headed over to the Hole in the Wall where it is very possible that I may have drank a little too much of the Yuletide Cherry porter from Barley Days Brewery. Good conversation over good beer in a good locale – definitely worth braving the cold for!


And that is why I have not made my Mocha Stout yet. I’m going to take a look at the timing and plan it so there’s nothing that needs attention for the week we’re away on our southwest road trip. It might have to wait until we get back.

It’s that time again

It’s that time again, where like-minded individuals meet in Las Vegas and indulge in all manner of bad but very fun behaviour involving fine food, alcohol and poker. Others of the group are heading to New Orleans for the same kind of bad behaviour, minus the poker. Me, I’m staying home as the EI pittance does not allow for weekend trips to Vegas. I am going to spend the weekend trying to stay away from social media and the hashtags #WPBT and #WPBTeast.

I hope you all have fun. Bastards.


The holidays are creeping up on me. While I don’t have marking and report cards looming over me any more, I’m still behind. I took an honest look at the calendar last week and tossed away any delusions that I could knit gifts for my three nieces and one nephew in time. Just then, an email from the World Wildlife Fund landed in my inbox. Perfect timing. Christmas shopping = done. Well, mostly done anyway.


Getting most anxious about my college application. I have about two weeks left to pull together my portfolio, and another week has slipped by without me being able to start my online grade 12 chemistry course. Not exactly sure what the hold up is, other than something is wrong about the way they digitized the information from when I took another course through them IN 1980!!! 

Must take deep breaths. Do not freak out on underpaid woman on the help desk.

As of today, I have exactly 87 days to take the course, with all quizzes and unit assignments (there are 5 units), write the final exam and get my final mark to the college admissions department. I can’t think about it too much or my brain shuts down and basically does this:


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