Husband-face and I just enjoyed some amazing Ethiopian food followed by a walk home. The spring weather is here, and it was a pleasure to take notice of our neighbourhood, spotting new things and celebrating familiar ones. Try doing the same in your neighbourhood sometime; it’s good to actively love your world!

The curious brick-work at “Mayor Baxter’s Mansion”:   

These delightful trellis stairs:


This winning rhododendron:

This best-ever giant blooming mystery tree:    

These explosive azaleas (and that Japanese maple):


This rustic-in-the-city walkway:


Happy spring!

Friend calls me.
Friend then calls my husband, demanding “Where is your wife?!”
I text back, “Am at a physio appointment. Will call you later.”
Friend replies, “Why am I only hearing about this now. Please check with me before all appointments in case I need to call you.”
I respond, “Totally reasonable request. How about I share all my Google calendars with you? Seems like the natural next step.”
Friend responds by sending the following hilarious calendar invitation.



Perhaps it’s a stretch to say that this has anything to do with art, but I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that it’s creative.

Happy Naw Ruz!

Happy Naw Ruz (Baha’i new year) from the friends and children gathered at our celebration last night! Dinner, music, art, dancing, and uplifting, sacred words – lovely evening!

My 2014 in Books

Folks, you may or may not know that I have been struggling with tendonitis & carpal-tunnel problems for more than a year. This has kept me away from computer-centric leisure activities – including blogging – and has thrust me into a regimen of physiotherapy. But I have still been reading. I never stop reading.

A little while ago I learned of the #95books project, and idly wondered how many books I had read this year – and whether or not that number would come at all close to 95. Despite the fact that it is late in the year and I have probably forgotten much, I gave it a shot: I enumerated all the books I could recall having read since last year’s winter holiday, in half-remembered chronological order.

some of the books I read in 2014

some of the books I read in 2014

Notes on criteria:

  • I counted books only – nothing else, though I also read, for example, countless articles of news online, including long-form journalism, as well as the odd periodical. I did see fit to count novel-length fan works, but not shorter works of fanfiction.
  • As I work in publishing, I read a great deal, but for the purpose of this list I made a few distinctions: I counted only the work-related books I read full through (and whose plots/details/themes I can recall after the fact); I did not count the large number of books I skimmed or read only partially; and I distinguish in the chart below between“work-related” books (which I read for work-related purposes) and books I discovered “via work” (books published by my company, which I read for pleasure).
  • I also served as a juror and read two large binders full of trial documents … but I ultimately decided not to count those.
  • Finally, I also read much Bahá’í material, which won’t surprise anyone, but few books full through, in 2014 – and that is one example of a thing I hope to change in 2015.

Turns out I got to 61. Not bad for an inadvertent effort. 39 works of fiction, 18 works of non-fiction, and 4 collections of poetry. I’ll say this: I read more non-fiction than I thought; I expected fiction from floor to ceiling.

It feels a little strange to me to publicize a personal reading list; what an intimate relationship we have with what we read, after all. Still, here they are, for my records and perhaps your mild interest:

# Title Author Publisher, Year Subject Category How I Found It
1 The Ladies of Grace Adieu and Other Stories
Susanna Clarke Bloomsbury, 2006 Fiction (Short Stories) VPL second-hand book sale; had enjoyed author’s previous book
2 Honky Dalton Conley Vintage, 2001 Non-Fiction (Memoir) recommended by a friend (YR)
3 The Salish People vol. 2 Charles Hill-Tout Talonbooks, [year unknown] Non-Fiction (Ethnography) work-related
4 The Salish People vol. 3 Charles Hill-Tout Talonbooks, [year unknown] Non-Fiction (Ethnography) work-related
5 The Salish People vol. 4 Charles Hill-Tout Talonbooks, [year unknown] Non-Fiction (Ethnography) work-related
6 Folies Past: A Prequel to Pride & Prejudice Melanie Kerr self-published, 2013 Fiction (Novel) gift from a friend (CS)
7 Pride and Prejudice Jane Austen public domain (Kobo edition), 2011 Fiction (Novel) classic [reread]
8 The World Afloat M.A.C. Farrant Talonbooks, 2014 Fiction (Short Stories) work-related
9 bpNichol: What History Teaches Stephen Scobie Talonbooks, [year unknown] Non-Fiction (Literary Criticism) work-related
10 The Valley Joan MacLeod Talonbooks, 2014 Drama work-related
11 The Stone Diaries Carol Shields Vintage, 1993 Fiction (Novel) VPL second-hand book sale
12 Lasagna: The Man Behind the Mask Ronald Cross with Helene Sevigny Talonbooks, 1991(?) Non-Fiction (Autobiography) work-related
13 Seasons: Sixth BeshterAngelus FanFiction.net, 2013 Fan-Fiction novel-length fanfiction, The X-Files
14 Seasons: Seventh BeshterAngelus FanFiction.net, 2013 Fan-Fiction novel-length fanfiction, The X-Files
15 Veronica Mars: The Thousand Dollar Tan Line Rob Thomas Knopf Doubleday, 2014 Fiction (Mystery) already a fan of the franchise
16 A Wizard of Earthsea Ursula K. LeGuin [unknown] Fiction (YA Fantasy) intended to read since Children’s Lit course in 2004
17 Girl in the Goldfish Bowl Morris Panych Talonbooks, 1999(?) Drama work-related
18 The Berlin Blues Drew Hayden Taylor Talonbooks, 1996(?) Drama via work
19 DOWNVERSE Nikki Reimer Talonbooks, 2014 Poetry via work
20 Back to the Good Fortune Diner Vicki Essex Harlequin, 2013 Romance recommended by a friend (SD)
21 Fangirl Rainbow Rowell St. Martin’s Griffin, 2013 Fiction (YA Novel) recommended by a friend (SD)
22 The Obese Christ Larry Tremblay Talonbooks, 2014 Fiction (Psychological Thriller) work-related
23 Releasing the Powers of Junior Youth (Book 5) Ruhi Institute Ruhi Institute, 2014 Non-Fiction (Religious) study circle resulting from Vancouver Youth Conference 2013 (Baha’i Community) [reread]
24 Cockroach Rawi Hage Anansi, 2008 Fiction (Novel) CBC Canada Reads 2014
25 Annabel Kathleen Winter Anansi, 2010 Fiction (Novel) CBC Canada Reads 2014
26 Hollow City Ransom Riggs Quirk Books, 2014 Fiction (YA Fantasy) bookstore browsing
27 Walking Together on a Path of Service (Book 7) Ruhi Institute Ruhi Institute, 2000s(?) Non-Fiction (Religious) invited to study circle by the tutor [reread]
28 The Orenda Joseph Boyden Hamish-Hamilton, 2013 Fiction (Novel) CBC Canada Reads 2014
29 The Porcupine Hunter and Other Stories Henry Tate (ed. Ralph Maud) Talonbooks, 1993(?) Non-Fiction (Ethnography) work-related
30 A Slight Case of Fatigue Stèphane Bourguignon Talonbooks, 1999(?) Fiction (Novel) work-related
31 Motherhouse David Fennario Talonbooks, 2014 Drama work-related
32 meanwhile: The Critical Writings of bpNichol Roy Miki (editor) Talonbooks, [year unknown] Non-Fiction (Literary Criticism) work-relatedhA`
33 Minor Expectations Garry Thomas Morse Talonbooks, 2014 Fiction (Novel – Speculative) work-related
34 Christina, The Girl King Michel-Marc Bouchard Talonbooks, 2014 Drama work-related
35 Year of the Flood Margaret Atwood Vintage, 2010 Fiction (SF/“cli-fi”) CBC Canada Reads 2014
36 Austenland Shannon Hale Bloomsbury, 2008 Fiction (Chick Lit) had seen the movie
37 Guide to BC Indian Myth & Legend Ralph Maud Talonbooks, [year unknown] Non-Fiction (Ethnography) work-related
38 Maleficium Martine Desjardins Talonbooks, 2012 Fiction (Novel) via work
39 Wild Child: Girlhoods in the Counter-Culture Chelsea Cain (editor) Seal Press, 1999 Non-Fiction (Essays) gift from a friend (HS) [reread]
40 Longbourn Jo Baker Knopf, 2013 Fiction (Novel) bookstore browsing
41 Crossing the City Michel Tremblay Talonbooks, 2014 Fiction (Novel) work-related
42 Michel & Ti-Jean George Rideout Talonbooks, 2014 Drama via work
43 Peacock Blue: The Collected Poems Phyllis Webb Talonbooks, 2014 Poetry via work
44 Odd Ducks [manuscript] Bryden MacDonald Talonbooks, 2015 (forthcoming) Drama via work
45 An Error in Judgement: Medical Care in an Indian-White Community Dara Culhane Speck Talonbooks, 2001(?) Non-Fiction (Sociology/Politics) work-related
46 The West Wing: Fantasy 8 various National-Library.net, [year unknown] Fan-Fiction novel-length fanfiction, The West Wing
47 Eleanor & Park Rainbow Rowell St. Martin’s Griffin, 2013 Fiction (YA Novel) word of mouth; recommendation (SD & JL)
48 Prisoner of Heaven Carlos Ruiz Zafon Harper Perennial Canada, 2013 Fiction (Novel) lent by a friend (VW)
49 Hosanna (3rd ed.) Michel Tremblay Talonbooks, 2013 Drama work-related
50 Bordertown Café Kelly Rebar Talonbooks, [year unknown] Drama via work
51 Loki is Buried at Stony Creek Fred Wah Talonbooks, 1970s(?) Poetry work-related
52 Pictograms From the Interior of B.C. Fred Wah Talonbooks, 1970s(?) Poetry work-related
53 The Book of Life Deborah Harkness Viking, 2014 Fiction (Novel) bookstore browsing
54 The Keeper’s Daughter  [manuscript: Finding Rose] Jean-François Caron Talonbooks, 2015 (forthcoming) Fiction (Novel) work-related
55 Half-Blood Blues Esi Edugyan HarperCollins, 2011 Fiction (Novel) CBC Canada Reads 2014
56 The Fasting Girl: A True Victorian Medical Mystery Michelle Stacey Tarcher-Putnam, 2002 Non-Fiction (History) VPL second-hand book sale
57 In Plain Sight: Reflections on Life in Downtown Eastside Vancouver Leslie A. Robertson & Dara Culhane (editors) Talonbooks, 2003 Non-Fiction (Essays) work-related
58 The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America Thomas King Doubleday Canada, 2012 Non-Fiction (History) various forms of publicity; borrowed from coworker (VW)
59 My Turquoise Years
M.A.C. Tarrant Greystone, 2004 Non-Fiction (Memoir) recommended by coworkers & VW & AM)
60 It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens Danah Boyd Yale University Press, 2014 Non-Fiction (Sociology) recommended by a conference speaker (BB at TechForum 2014)
61 The Black Notebook Michel Tremblay Talonbooks, 2006 Fiction (novel) work-related

I consider it a good year. And the desire to read (as well as available free time for reading) does tend to ebb and flow to some degree from year to year. I may not get to 60 in 2015 – but I will endeavour to keep a more accurate list as I go.

I wish I had time to write reviews or commentary about these books, many of which were excellent, but I don’t. I’ll share just a bit of the cream:

  • I was most emotionally affected by Atwood’s Year of the Flood. I won’t get into how or why, because that is a whole other ball game, as they say. If you haven’t read any so-called cli-fi, I urge you to do so. In my case cli-fi essentially preaches to the choir, but it’s sometimes important to remind yourself of why you joined the choir in the first place. Say yes to this series.
  • The worst by far was Austenland, which I read as an experiment after watching the mildly amusing movie (best part of which was casting Brett Mackenzie in a romantic role; please, Hollywood, do that again sometime). I do not have the stomach for chick lit, and I found this book unctuous. Mercifully, it was a quick read.
  • The book I would most recommend is Danah Boyd’s It’s Complicated. Teachers, parents, and anyone who lives, works with, or serves the needs of youth and young people would benefit from reading this book. Anyone flustered by or concerned about or interested in the social and sociological impacts of an increasingly networked world would benefit from reading this book.

The rest was gravy, essentially.

(Gravy, too, is important. Check out this news, published in 2013, which found that readers of literary fiction make good empathizers.)

If you’re interested in tracking your own reading habits, check out the 50 Book Pledge, which I found out about while writing this post. If you’re curious about how and why people choose to buy the books they buy, you might peruse BookNet Canada’s latest report, “The Canadian Book Consumer 2013 – Coast to Coast: Book Buyers Across Canada” (PDF). Last but not least, if you’ve read any of the books above and would like to chat about them, leave a comment!

You may not hear (read) from me for a while, owing to the above-outlined circumstances, but I trust you’ll be doing your share of reading excellent things.

Happy reading in 2015, everyone!

It’s been a while, hasn’t it? I have a year-end post brewing that explains my absence in more detail, but for now here’s a quick photo of a mobile my husband and I built as a gift for friends of ours who are expecting their first baby in early 2015. He whittled a long branch into three sticks, then we both folded a number of paper cranes out of large sheets of scrapbooking paper, and finally I rigged it all up with some bakers’ twine. With lovely results!


In a most excellent denouement, the mother-to-be tells me the cranes match the new baby’s new room perfectly.


I recently received the below sneak preview of the baby’s room. This baby is going to be one classy lady!



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