Monday, September 29, 2008

Memory Lane: The First of Many

I was going through some of the boxes that I have downstairs, pulling out stuff that could be chucked, transferring other items into boxes so it was organized when I came across a file folder filled with old stories that I wrote when I was a teen.

Going through all the old stories really made me shake my head and I wonder what it was about my writing that earned me an award in high school. I have the whole teen angst, I know everything there is to know in life, thing going on but I don't think I expressed it very well.

Other times, I would start a story and then just leave it, never realizing the full potential or anything else. I have pages of pages of ramblings so I thought what better way to enjoy those ramblings than to share them with anyone who is reading my blog.

I will probably post one or two a month, whenever the mood hits. Tonight, I thought I would start off with a story that I started when I was nineteen. I remember starting it when I was at work. I worked retail and no one came in during a certain time of day so after dusting and various other tasks, I was often left twiddling my thumbs or reading. Then I got the bright idea that I could start writing again. Usually, I would just start a story and someone would come in and my train of thought would be lost. (Obviously I had a very short attention span.)

So without further introduction, here is the story (untitled) that I had started. (unedited of course to preserve the authenticity.)

As the last light of day slips gently out of my eyes, I feel the scream of anguish fill my sore throat. It is night now, the eternal shadow that clings painfully to day's side. Night, where the dead hide in shadows and the darkness clothes the damned. Why do I fear what I cannot see? Why do I feel dread at the sight of dusk? Why do I continue this impossible quest? Because I, because I, Alexander Simmons, do not have the answers. It was so clear when I was 20, even when I was 40 but now my mind and my body have out aged the answers. My body is weak and frail where it once stood strong and heavy. The answers are still there but they are not solid to an old man's ears but they may be solid to yours. Please take the time and hear my tale.


And that was it. I have no idea where the story was going or why I chose Simmons as a last name. Still, even with that, the first few sentences are pretty strong and then I wander off, singing a song of regret and fear and suddenly I introduce you to Alexander Simmons, the long lost brother of Richard Simmons and he is actually terrified that he will need to work out. And shouldn't it be outlived not out aged.

Okay, a little harsh about my own work but if I can't look back and laugh at some of the thoughts that came out of my head, I'm afraid that I will never be able to catch up with all the newest ones that try to tumble out.

I hope you enjoyed tonight's installment of memory lane, tune in next week for another story that will leave you hanging. VBG.


Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Elections are Coming!

The Elections are coming! The Elections are coming! Quick, run for your lives! Get out! Flee! Retreat! Do something, don't just stand there!

God, how I hate elections. I'm so not a fan of listening to various government officials talking out of their asses and pretending their breath doesn't stink. Not too jaded, am I.

If you aren't sure what I am talking about, the Canadian elections are scheduled for October 14th, at least I think it's the 14th. If it isn't, I know my husband will point me in the direction of the nearest polling station and like a good little civilian, I will wearily go into the voting box and make my choice.

My husband and I have made it a matter of marital harmony to not discuss who we are voting for. We used to but it was too much. I would usually end the conversation by calling him a name (rhymes with lass) and telling him that he had no sense. He would end it by shivering in revulsion at my tried and true, eenie, meenie, minie, mo form of voting. (Okay, it isn't quite that bad but I have on several occasions thrown away my vote, which is probably the same in his eyes.)

This year, we have broached the subject a few times since there really isn't any party that either of us would want to vote for. None of the leaders really strike confidence in my heart and it's become a "six in one, half dozen in the other" type of election year. I have even asked my three year old who I should vote for.

He, of course, was very helpful and decided that I should vote conservative, my husband should vote NDP and he, my youngest, would vote for Liberal since Stephan Dion sounds very silly. (His words, not mine.) I guess when your three, silly goes a long way.

This election has actually become my running ground for being silly. I have asked a three year old who to vote for (be assured that I probably won't take his advice, you know, "eenie..." still comes in handy) and I have had little running tirades on just about every party.

I have decided that I would love to go and get all of the parties' signs and stick them in my yard. I will make an elaborate maze with them and then at the end of the maze I will stick in a sign that I make. It will have a huge question mark on it and it will say, "Are you as confused as I am?"

My husband doesn't think the parties would like my idea very much so I decided that I would need to get the Sign Bandit to come up here to start taking down all the signs. Probably not a good idea but I hate getting up each morning, looking out my window and seeing this giant face looking back at me. (One of the parties has erected this huge sign across the road from me, on public property, featuring this huge mug shot. To top it off, it's a party I haven't even heard of. Not a great way to start the day.)

My last idea was to start a whole online campaign where I have a website that people can send in their videos on why Canadians should vote for them. It could be called Vote For Me (but not me, more like vote for you). Completely satirical but this idea came too late in the whole election process and I have enough work as it is. Besides, knowing Murphy's law, I would get elected and me...Canada won't want that to happen. VBG.

Hopefully, this election will pass and Canadians will go back to never hearing from their politicians. I swear they disappear as soon as they are elected, and isn't Parliament shut down 11months of the year. Yes, I know it isn't that bad but still.

Okay, I better sign off for now. I am having a grumpy day, obviously and needed to rant a little (I guess). Hope everyone else is enjoying the elections and if you aren't, don't worry, they will pass.


Sunday, September 21, 2008

A few changes

I decided I needed to make a few changes to the blog. I have been contributing to it a bit more than I usually do so the overall appearance was starting to get to me. I have added a few things, including, ick...a picture of me, and I will be playing around with layout and everything over the next few weeks.

Hopefully, I will have everything finished up within a few weeks and no one will feel displaced by the changes.

So I hope you enjoy the changes.


Friday, September 19, 2008

Book Woes

I am an avid reader, actually I once thought I had a reading addiction after reading a sign, "Are you a compulsive reader? There is help." I was standing in the bank and I felt a moment of panic, "Oh my God!" when I realized that I must be a "compulsive reader" since I was reading the sign.

Yes, I read everything but it wasn't something I needed to do so thankfully I wasn't that bad and didn't need to seek help, although I probably should have seeked help for a few other reasons. ;o)

My oldest son, like me, loves to read. He is only 7 but he goes through books faster than I can. At first I thought he wasn't really reading when he would say, "I've read to page 64 of Journey to the Center of the Earth (the classic, not the movie version)," in the same amount of time it took me to read half that amount. It's not a light read and although there were a few words he didn't understand, mostly place names, he was retaining enough to get the just of the story.

Still, I decided that he should read to me so I was sure he was actually reading something. Much to my surprise, he was reading fluently and was even able to pronunciate the harder words, except those words that no one knows how to pronounce.

Yeah for my little boy! Unfortunately, he is often found with his nose stuck in a book. If we are driving anywhere, his nose is in the book, even a 5 minute drive to the grocery store and I find that I have to compete with a book just to talk to him.

This isn't a bad thing, he loves learning about new things but last night I wondered if maybe we were going a little too far with reading and learning.

I was in my office trying to work after the kids had gone to bed. My youngest was crashed, he'd had a meltdown earlier in the evening from being overtired and I was a little stressed by it all. My oldest was enjoying his reading time before lights out. He was curled up with a huge encyclopedia that answered questions about animals around the world from both the past and the present.

He seemed happy reading about lizards when I left until I heard a yell, "MOM!"

I went into his bedroom, hearing a loud thump as he dropped the book onto the floor, to find him laying with his face buried into his pillow and loud sobs coming from him.

My first reaction was, did he get hurt, but when I asked what was wrong, he said something I wasn't expecting, "There wasn't enough information in that book."

I had to fight to keep from laughing in relief and saying, "Is that all?"

Instead, after a few questions, I found that he was upset that the information on dinosaurs was limited, only a few pages in fact. I said, "Oh, well all that means is that you need to cross reference."


"Well, you find out the information in this book and if it doesn't cover everything or if your not sure if it is right, you find another book to see if the fact is right and to learn more."

He looked up at me in hope, "Really, you can do that."

The giggle was really hard to suppress as I sat down on his bed, "Sure, most books don't have all the facts so you need to go hunting for more information and piece them all together."

"But that book hardly had any information," he pouted.

"But that book was just a general book. It wasn't a specific book about dinosaurs so if you want more information, you need to bring home books that are only about dinosaurs."

He sighed in relief, promised to bring home some dinosaur books today from school and went to sleep.

I just shook my head and wondered if I was making matters worse or better. Sometimes I am just amazed how kids are. I remember when he was only 3, he was sitting in bed reading a book (we started the habit young) and suddenly he started crying in pain. I was stuck because I was in the middle of breastfeeding but my husband raced up to his room only to find out that my son had gotten his nose caught when he had closed a book. In the middle of his tear filled screams he had yelled, "I got my nose stuck in a book."

And since that day, we haven't been able to get it unstuck.


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Sick Today

Just a little post today since I am dealing with the first cold of the new school year. My oldest brought it home with him and he was actually looking forward to being sick. I blame this little oddity on the fact that both of my kids have had great experiences with doctors and hospitals. To them, getting sick and having to go to the hospital means Popsicles and videos (the children's hospital really is amazing).

Unfortunately for my oldest, he missed getting really sick but he managed to make his little brother sick, he missed school on Monday and finally me sick today. I haven't been able to work at all, my head is all fuzzy but the worst is the sneezing. I swear I haven't sneezed so much in my life. Hopefully I will be feeling much better by the morning but for right now, I'm going to curl up with a nice cup of tea and nurse my head cold. Now that I had my little whine. ;o)

Hope everyone else makes it through the fall without a cold or anything else.


Friday, September 12, 2008


When I was a little girl, I lived near the ocean. Not right beside it but for many who live in the lower mainland of British Columbia, the closeness of the ocean is well known. I loved the ocean. Loved spending days exploring the beaches, staring at star fish, digging up sand dollars and I loved taking the ferry over to the Island. At one point in my life, I had wanted to be a Marine Biologist.

Still, even with my love of the ocean, I was partly afraid of it. This was the body of water that had sea monsters in it after all; sharks patrolled the depths, and I had heard horror stories of Blue Sharks and Mako Sharks. Forget about the Great Whites, there were lots of other monster sharks in the sea and they were all longing for a chance to taste human flesh. (I have mentioned before that I have an active imagination, now pair that with a little girl and her imagination)

Needless to say, I was terrified but it didn't drive me from the ocean and I wanted to swim through the water even more. I didn't really give any thought towards fishing sharks and after I moved away from the ocean, I didn't give much thought to sharks at all. They weren't a concern for me anymore since I was landlocked.

It seems to be a sentiment that so many people share. It's not a concern that affects me, so why be concerned. I was instinctively afraid of sharks and although I couldn't condone this instinctual fear when it was targeted against my favorite animal, the wolf, I could condone it against sharks.

It wasn't until I was an adult and living in Cincinnati that I really saw the error of how I was thinking. There I was, enjoying the Newport Aquarium in Kentucky (for those who aren't familiar with the area, Cincinnati is just across the river from Newport, Kentucky) and I decided to stop in and see the shark show. The divers in the tank seemed completely at home but they weren't what captivated my attention, it was the beautiful sharks that glided around them. They were breathtaking and I realized that my fear of them was a little outdated. My son was in awe and after the show, we quickly moved to the tunnels where the sharks would be swimming around us.

And that was amazing. I longed to be in the water, touching them as they swam past and it was almost overwhelming being in a tunnel where they swam over my head or under my feet. They were pure grace and although they were predators, I didn't feel the dislike I had as a child.

I wasn't so reformed that I rushed out to the nearest ocean and went diving. For one thing, I didn't have immediate access to the ocean, for another, I know absolutely nothing about scuba diving (although I have done snorkeling). The only thing that had changed was my opinion of them and I found myself watching documentaries about them.

Which is what I did last night. I watched Sharkwater. I had wanted to see it since it was in the theatre but I rarely see anything in the theatre and the last few movies that I have seen has been children's movies. Then, much like countless other movies that I had wanted to see, I forgot about it until I saw it advertised on a movie station.

In regards to movies, I probably wouldn't say that it was a must have for me but I will say that it is definitely a must watch. Everyone should watch it because this is a problem that everyone is a part of. Whether you eat shark fin soup or not, it is up to everyone to try and save the creatures that share this planet with us.

You might not believe in evolution, you might not believe in creation, but regardless of what you believe there is an infinite truth; everything in this world has a purpose. Each life force on this planet lives off another, whether it is the herbivores that eat the plants or the carnivores that eat the herbivores, every animal has a role to fill. Sharks are an apex predator and one thing that I have always been aware of is that man usually hates apex predators. Maybe we see ourselves in them, maybe we see competition for the top spot but regardless of what it is that we see, we often fear them.

There are countless stories of the evil of wolves, countless stories about lions, countless stories about apex predators and how they will try to devour humans at any opportunity. Despite these stories, we have come to realize that these animals are merely that, animals. When they attack, it is often a case of mistaken identity, starvation, protection or even disease. It is not premeditated, it is not evil.

Ok, I'm am starting to rant so it is probably best if I stop right now. My main point of all of this is that things should be done to save sharks. Long-line fishing should be banned across the planet, much like whaling, and people should stop eating shark fin soup. I'm not overly squeamish but watching people hack off the fins of sharks, while they are still alive, made me close my eyes.

So, I am recommending that you watch Sharkwater and I also recommend that you stop by a few of the sites promoted by the movie. Regardless of your feelings about sharks, they are an apex predator and something that we have seen time and time again is the fact that apex predators are essential for the health of the eco-system around them.


Thursday, September 11, 2008

A little chat

I talked to my sister last night. Probably for most people, that phrase is pretty standard but I haven't talked to my sister in years, if you don't count one phone conversation a year or so ago. It was great to talk to her, and if you are wondering about everything, I had a conversation with my half sister.

I think I have eluded to it more than once but if I haven't, I was adopted by my aunt when I was three months old. When I was about 4, my biological mother moved to the states and I didn't see her or her children until I was close to 12. When I finally met her, I learned that I had two half sisters and a half brother (on my biological mom's side) and it was a great. My family grew even larger.

Unfortunately, I fell out of touch with everyone and finally had the clever idea to actually check facebook to see if she was on there. And she was so after sending her an "add friend" request, she sent me her number and I was able to talk to her.

It was really nice. I, of course, rambled. I find that when I am nervous I ramble. About everything, about nothing, just keep talking and you might be able to fight through those nerves, Sirena. It never works and I find it very embarrassing. I hang up the phone and wonder, sheesh did I just talk (the person's) ear off. Probably.

I long for those days when I was the quiet shy girl that had to have conversations dragged out of her but I'm not. Somewhere from there to here, I just started rambling whenever my nerves were playing havoc.

Needless to say, I rambled last night, probably a lot and I could just imagine that my sister was saying, "Damn, that girl never shuts up," because I was saying to myself, "Damn, I never shut up."

Hopefully, the nerves will be calmed a lot more the next time that I talk to her and that horrible habit of rambling can be put on hold.

Still, even with my nerves and active mouth, I had a nice conversation and I hope that we stay in touch a little bit more than we have in the past. It is great to catch up with people you haven't talked to in a long time and even better when they are family.

Well, I think I'm finished rambling for today. I just realized that I posted more than once this month. I better slow down. VBG.

Take care,


*On a side note, I found it really interesting that we gave our youngest children the same name.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Junior Kindergarten

Just a quick note today before I head off to start working. I am feeling really out of sorts since today was the first day that my youngest started school. The house seems so empty without him here and it feels strange carting two of them out the door in the morning.

Thankfully, it's not every day but when I dropped them both off at school, and I watched my little boy (he's only three by the way, darn end of year birthdays) wander through the school door, over sized backpack on his shoulders, I had to wipe some tears from my eyes.

It is such a mixed feeling watching my boys grow up. On one hand, I am happy that they are growing up and discovering the world around them but on the other hand, I don't think they've stayed little long enough.

Still, he is overjoyed with being at school and his brother is happy that he is there (especially since his classroom is just across the hall), so that is what is important. A weepy mom will just have to get over herself. ;)

Anyway, I am off to work, writing birth stories about the little boys that are now big boys at their school. Boy, I think I should put a box of Kleenex on my desk for today.

Take care,


Tuesday, September 9, 2008

A Universal Truth

My oldest son has a very difficult time with transitions. He hates new routines and will usually fight them since he has a lot of anxiety over them. We have had him assessed and he has seen a developmental paediatrician and it basically comes down to the fact that he has a "slow to warm up" personality and he is of "superior intelligence" (as they refer to it), or as the rest of the world would say, "he's really smart."

Anyway, the new school year was causing him a little anxiety and although we have been warning him for the last three weeks that school will be starting, he was starting to get a little worked up about all the changes. Instead of complicating the matter even more, I decided I would resort to bribery and I told him he could have any meal he wanted as a special treat if he had a great first week of school.

He jumped at the chance and said he wanted me to cook a turkey. A turkey! Not, let's go to McDonald's, nope not my kid, he wants a turkey dinner. I agreed and that is why you find me today, cooking a turkey.

As I was preparing the turkey, I realized that there is a universal truth about cooking turkeys and I wanted to share it with you.

So are you ready...drum roll please....

The Universal Truth of Cooking a Turkey...

"No matter what you do, the moment you stick your hands up a turkey's butt, you will have an excruciating itch somewhere on your face."

Oh, you try to ignore it, that little itch just above the eyebrow or the little twinge on the nose, your hands are, after all, covered in turkey fat and other nastiness found on the inside of a turkey, but the little itch grows and you find that it is so annoying you just have to scratch it, even if it is just with the inside of your bicep.

This does nothing for the itch but it leaves you looking like you are rehearsing for the world's worst adaptation of the chicken dance. One foot raised up on tiptoes, your head slumped down, your arm up and covering your face as a turkey wobbles to and fro on your hands. It is just pathetic, but you don't want to take your hands out of the turkey, wash them off, scratch the itch and the moment you stick them back in a new itch begins.

So you tough it out, slightly dancing in impatience, knowing that if you don't scratch that spot soon, you are going to start crying. Then, when you are finally done, your hands are extracted from the turkey's butt (okay, it's not really the butt but it's pretty close) and you have washed away the turkey grime completely... the itch is gone (that is until you start stuffing the turkey).

And what is the moral of my universal truth...

...Probably that you should never stick your hands up a turkey's butt...


Monday, September 8, 2008

Resident EvilER

My husband is a huge fan of zombie movies. I swear that I have read more zombie books and seen more zombie movies than I ever cared to see simply so I could share an interest with him. After having some pretty nasty nightmares, I decided that we would need to find a different interest.

I detest zombies. Can't stand them and I prefer to not watch anything with a zombie in it. I'm not sure why I feel this strongly but I think it has something to do with the whole flesh eating thing. Give me a zombie that doesn't devour flesh and hey, I'm cool with it. "Who cares if you are the walking dead, just eat vegetarian please."

Regardless of how I feel about zombies, whenever my husband brings in a new book, I'll usually read it. Sometimes the stories are very clever and the writers are very talented at crafting their genre. It makes for a fun (can't believe I used that word with an apocalyptic genre) read and I can usually cope with all the "mmm...brains" scenes that fill the books. Movies, not so much, thank you Hollywood and all your special effects.

Still, I watched the Resident Evil movies, and I am Legend, and Shaun of the Dead (very funny movie actually and I am a fan of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost now because of it.) So I have had my fill of zombie movies.

So where am I going with this. Okay, now I need to set the scene because, of course, there is a story behind all this rambling. I was flipping through the PVR guide (similar to tivo) and I noticed a movie called Doomsday. I mentioned off hand that there was a movie that I figured my husband would want to see. He came running into the living room (okay, he didn't really run but he scampered...hurried...shuffled like the undead into the living room).

"Yeah, I wanted to see that," he shuffles from one foot to the next before sitting on the arm of the couch (yes, I allow that awful habit and it's actually one of my preferred spots to perch).

I ignore him and continue to flip through the tv guide. Yep, nothing on...oh wait a minute...the sequel to Dirty Dancing is on. DH laughs before I can even say anything, "I can't believe they made a sequel to that movie...I guess I shouldn't be, lots of people liked it."

I grin, "I was a closet Dirty Dancing lover. I wouldn't let anyone know that I loved that movie and only watched it when no one was around."

This makes him laugh. Of all the things to be ashamed about but the thing is, I was a bit of a tomboy growing up and if I always felt that liking "girlie" things made me less of one.

Anyway, back to the story. After I cycled through all the stations, DH still sitting on his perch, waiting for me to give in, I finally say, "Do you want me to record it for you?"

Without missing a beat since we both knew what movie I was talking about he says, "Yeah sure, but it will probably suck."

"They all suck. I mean even Resident Evil-er sucked."

He shakes his head, "Resident Evil-er?"

"Yeah, the third one. It was called Resident Evil-er, wasn't it."


"Oh yeah, it wasn't," I pause deep in thought," You know, they should make a movie and call it Resident Evil-er. You could have the deep voice over guy say," I clear my throat and try to create a masculine voice-over-guy tone," You've seen Resident Evil, now prepare for the scare of your life with Resident Evil-ER."

At that, DH laughed at me (something he does a lot) and I lost my train of thought but I could totally (yeah, like totally) see a movie called Resident Evil-ER. You have to stress the errrrrr because those zombies aren't just evil in my movie, they are evilerrrrr.

Needless to say, DH will be watching another zombie type movie and I will be doing something else tonight. Maybe I will be working on my manuscript for Resident Evil-ER but probably not.

At least I got on here to post, although I am sure at this moment, you are probably wishing that I took another two months off.

Happy Zombie-ing!

Sirena Van Schaik

*Edited to say that as it turned out Doomsday did not have Zombies but did have cannibals and it was bad, bad, bad, bad.*

Thursday, September 4, 2008


Okay, I hate starting blogs up again after I have been absent for a while. I know I always say the same thing, I'll keep up on blog posts but when it comes to my personal blog, I just don't think I have anything interesting to update.

Just to give you a quick update, I am working on many freelance projects right now. Over the summer, I finished a recipe book and a baby name book for two separate clients. Loved the former, and really berated myself about the latter. If I ever see someone looking for another baby name book, I am going to turn off the computer and run away.

I just started an online writing course on how to write sexual tension into a scene. Generally, I don't write much in the way of romance but any story can have sexual tension and the one novel idea that I have been researching for the last 3 months will rely on some of the elements that I learn about in this course. It is a dark suspense and really has nothing to do with romance but there are a few elements here and there. I am, after all, a woman so I tend to enjoy the occasional romantic gesture.

September, wait it's September now, my article for Mothering Magazine will be published. If you can get your hands on it, pick up a copy and let me know how it is. I haven't received contributors copies yet but hopefully soon. It takes time but I am so eager to see it, I will have to hunt it down. According to Mothering Magazine, they are sold in Chapters in Canada so I will have to take a trip over to Chapters when I get 5 minutes.

And there is a little recap. I'm not going to promise to write everyday; let's face it, I don't stick to that promise but I will stop by when my schedule allows it or I have a thought I want to share.

Actually, I often have a thought to share but it is always when I am away from home or busy doing something else and by the time I can write something here, the thought is gone or I don't have the time to punch in a few words. '

So bear with me and maybe, just maybe, I will be blogging away happily about all the misadventures of being me.

Take care,