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3 Fictional Families I’d Want to Spend Family Day With

Today is Family Day for those of us who live in Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario, New Brunswick, or Saskatchewan. Family Day was first observed in 2007 in New Brunswick, and it was created in order to give people a paid day off in February to rest and spend time with their families.

Ontario first began observing it in 2008, and I’m hoping that all of the non-participating provinces will join in with the rest of us soon.

I should note that, at least here in Toronto, Family Day is not only marketed to parents and their young children. I’ve seen ads for everything from pet-friendly venues to hiking opportunities for adults in our beautiful national parks. While there’s certainly a lot of stuff for kids to do today, there are plenty of other activities for many other types of families as well. I love the diversity of that.

If it were possible to spend today with fictional families, these are the folks I’d text to see if they wanted to go ice skating, play board games, go on a hike, or listen to live music with me today.

The Weasley Family from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. 

Yes, I know I talk about the Potterverse a lot on this blog. There’s something about the characters in it that keep me coming back for more year after year, and this is especially true for the boisterous Weasley clan.

Some of the best scenes in this series happened in the Weasley’s home. They were so quick to share what they had with anyone who needed it even though they were definitely not a wealthy family by any stretch of the imagination. There’s something so endearing about that.

I also feel like they’d make for wonderful, friendly competition for a snowball fight. Well, as long as nobody knew what spell to use to make snowballs do something more mischievous than usual…

The Addams Family

When I was a kid, my family wavered between having a TV and taking breaks from living with one. When we did have a TV, it was common for us to only be able to watch the channels that could be seen for free if you had an antenna and the wind was blowing the right way. (This is only a partial joke. The weather really could influence what channels we could get on stormy days from what I recall!)

Due to this, I spent far more time watching shows that stopped airing decades before my birth than I did anything contemporary until I was in middle school.

The Addams Family was my first introduction to the scarier side of the sci-fi/fantasy genre, and I adored it. The term scary should be in parentheses there, though. I was fascinated by the monsters on this show, not frightened of them.

And the bonds between all of the members of the Addams family were so tight and loving that I was nothing but amused by their dark jokes and carnivorous pet plants. They really did have good hearts beneath their sometimes-gruff exteriors.

This isn’t even to mention the fact that it would be really cool to meet Cousin It in person! If you don’t know who that is, consider it encouragement to watch an episode or two.

The Simpson Family

Once my family got a television, (temporarily) signed up for cable service, and began watching more contemporary programs, I quickly learned which show I enjoyed the most: The Simpsons!

I loved the tongue-in-cheek humour in this cartoon. No matter what happened to any of the Simpsons, you knew they’d always be back to their old selves by the following week. The continuity of that was just as delightful as the jokes that occasionally pushed the envelope.

There was also something fascinating about the thought of a community that didn’t age and rarely changed. Bart, Lisa, and Maggie should be well into adulthood by now, but somehow they’re all still the same ages they were when we first met them.

I know there have been some changes to this universe over the years – for example, the death of one of the secondary characters, and another episode in which a different character adopted a baby from China – but it’s remained remarkably consistent outside of those moments from what I can recall.

It sure would be interesting to meet the Simpsons in person if such a thing were possible and see if they realize just how long they’ve remained more-or-less the same!

Which fictional families would you want to spend Family Day with?

Why Taking Reading Breaks Can Be a Good Idea

I haven’t been reading many books lately. It started last month when I went on vacation to someplace warm and sunny. Ontario is such a dark and cold place during the winter that I wanted to spend as much time as I could in the sun during that week without getting burned or tanned.

As is usual for my vacation habits, most of the reading I did consisted of visiting social media and checking out blog posts and short articles on my RSS feed.

Now that I’ve been back home for a couple of weeks, I’ve noticed that I still don’t have the desire to jump back into my normal reading habits. That’s okay. This happens occasionally.

You see, I spend a great deal of my reading time in the science fiction and fantasy genres. The interesting thing about staying so closely connected to a couple of genres like that is how easy it is to spot and predict patterns in them after a while. There have been multiple times when I’ve been able to correctly guess what the entire course of a story will be after finishing the first scene in it.

Part of this is due to the fact that readers expect certain things from their favourite genres. If a character mentions the existence of a long-lost magical amulet on page one, any writer worth his or her salt is going to make sure that amulet shows up again  later on in the storyline.

I’ve spent so much time in these genres that I’ve become well-versed in the numerous tropes that exist in both of them. I also know how their various types of storylines generally flow and can pick up on authors who decide to buck those trends pretty early on.

These are all things I’m saying with love for the science fiction and fantasy genres. This happens in every other genre out there, too, and it’s not a bad thing. There’s something reassuring about knowing that, unless you’ve stumbled across one of those rare authors who has put a lot of work into purposefully disrupting these conventions, the chosen one is going to prevail in the end no matter how dire his or her predicament may seem right before the climax.

The nice thing about reading breaks is that they give you a chance to step away from these patterns if you also tend to stick to the same genre(s) with every new title you pick up. Sometimes my breaks are short and punctuated by a stack of non-fiction books about history, food, medicine, or other topics I find appealing. Other breaks find me not reading any full-length books at all or visiting portions of the library that I typically skip over altogether.

Some of the book-lovers I know have never talked about their need to take breaks from reading. I don’t know if this is because they’re always interested in starting something new or because they simply don’t mention it when they wait a while between finishing one book and starting the next one.

It would be interesting to somehow gather statistics on this, don’t you think? Oh, the things I could do with that data in Numbers. There would be more pie charts and graphs floating around in there than you could shake a stick at.

Fellow readers, do you ever take reading breaks? If so, how often do they happen? What do you do when you’re not immersed in your favourite genre(s)?

Weekly Wednesday Blogging Challenge: Most Romantic Memory

Hosted by Long and Short Reviews.

As I mentioned in yesterday’s Top Ten Tuesday post, I am not a very romantic person. For example, my wonderful spouse and I have been together for going on 15 years now, yet we have never once celebrated Valentine’s Day. It’s simply not a holiday that appeals to either of us.

So you might not be surprised to hear that my most romantic memory has nothing to do with chocolates, jewelry, roses, or whispering sweet nothings into anyone’s ears.

Instead, it’s about wisdom teeth and what happens after you’ve had all four of them extracted in the same surgery. Let’s just say that I was swollen, in pain, dreaming about bizarre things, and loopy from the medications I’d been prescribed for the recovery process. At one point, I was convinced that I’d just seen a terse news broadcast about how Canada had stolen Alaska from the United States and refused to give it back again.

So along with typical, post-surgical tasks like making sure I took my pills at the right time and had soft food to eat until the stitches in my mouth could be removed, my spouse got to have what must have been a pretty funny conversation with me about how our country would definitely be returning Alaska to the Americans. I was not convinced at first that our government was going to be willing to do that, but he reassured me that all would be well in North America the next time I woke up. And it was.

The rest of my memories from those first few days after that surgery are pretty hazy. As soon as the latest dose of medicine finally kicked in, I’d slip in and out of sleep for hours. When the meds started wearing off and the pain grew stronger, I’d wake up enough to eat or drink something. At one point, I do remember being spoon-fed applesauce. It was more delicious than any applesauce I’ve had before or since then. I was so grateful to not have to do complicated stuff like hold the spoon or guide it into my mouth without spilling.

Falling in love is amazing, but long term relationships are about so much more than the butterflies you feel in the beginning. I think it’s a beautiful, romantic thing when people take good care of their spouses/life partners every day of the year, especially when it involves eating applesauce and convincing Canada to give up her thieving ways. 😉

How about all of you?

Top Ten Tuesday: Favourite Couples in Books

Hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

I’m not a romantic person in real life, and I don’t generally find myself that interested in romance novels or stories spend a lot of time talking about characters falling in love. (Y’all, how on Earth did I ever manage to get married? Ha!)

So this week’s list required some thought, and I was a little short of the full 10 books we were supposed to come up with once I finished it.  Honestly, I like it when blog hops make you think, though. It’s nice when you can automically come up with a dozen or more books to fit a Top Ten Tuesday theme, but there’s also something to be said for digging deeply to get one of these posts put together.

You’re going to see several friends-turned-lovers on today’s list. On the rare occasions that I get excited about a fictional romance, a friendship evolving into something more than that is often the biggest reason why I’m thrilled. Most of the people I’ve developed crushes on or fallen in love with have started out as friends first, so it’s always nice to see characters have that same wonderful experience.

1. Jo and Laurie from Louisa May Alcott’s “Little Women.”

I really like it when characters who have similar personalities end up in flirtatious or romantic situations. Jo and Laurie not only acted a lot alike, they had some of the same flaws. That can be a good thing for certain couples! If you both struggle with the same bad habit, it can be easier to show empathy when your partner messes up in that area.

2. Alice and her partner in Claire Kann’s “Let’s Talk About Love.”

To the best of my knowledge, this was the first book about an asexual character I ever read. (I’m purposefully not mentioning her partner’s name for spoiler purposes). While there were parts of the plot I didn’t find so interesting, I was fascinated by the idea of someone having a romantic relationship without ever wanting to have sex with them. It’s not something that’s talked about very often in mainstream fiction, and I don’t know anyone in real life who is asexual to the best of my knowledge, so it’s nice to see an example of how these types of relationships work.

3. Ron and Hermione from the Harry Potter series. 

Most people seemed to think Hermione would end up with Harry. I personally assumed she’d end up with Ron’s wickedly intelligent older brother, Percy, because they were both so bookish in the very best sense of that term.

I do see the logic in Ron and Hermione ending up together, though, and I like the thought of them raising a couple of bright and probably terribly mischievous kids.

4. Annie and Liza from Nancy Garden’sAnnie on My Mind.”

There’s something about young love that’s always interesting to read. I developed crushes on others so rarely when I was in school that my dating history was almost non-existent until I was in my 20s. It was nice to read about girls who had a totally different adolescence than mine.

5. Anne and Gilbert from L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables series. 

I did not like the thought of Anne and Gilbert dating when they were teenagers because of how fiercely competitive they were, but my opinion changed once they’d both had a chance to grow up and experience life a little more. They were both smart, compassionate, and very kind. I don’t know about all of you, but I always cheer at the thought of these sorts of folks ending up together.

6.Valancy and her partner in L.M. Montgomery’s “The Blue Castle.”

Once again, I can’t say who the main character ended up with for spoiler reasons, but I thought Valancy and her lover made a wonderful couple. Valancy’s life had been so drab, strictly controlled, and sometimes even peppered with emotional abuse when we first met her that this twist in her fate was a true breath of fresh air.

7. Josh and Emma from Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler’s “The Future of Us.”

Imagine getting glimpses of your possible futures through the Internet! I loved this premise just as much as I did trying to figure out if these two friends were actually going to one day end up together. The fact that it was set in the 90’s only made it better. There haven’t been too many contemporary stories set in that decade yet, so I’m happy whenever I find one.

8. Jane and Mr. Rochester from Charlotte Bronte’s “Jane Eyre.” 

The romantic subplot wasn’t one I knew about in advance because I read this book on my own for the sheer joy of it instead of  for a class assignment. Due to this, Jane’s relationship with Mr. Rochester came as a huge surprise to me. Her neglectful childhood was oddly a nice match for all of the troubles Mr. Rochester had been through. I hope they’d find some happiness in each other after all of the hard times they’d both know. There’s something so emotionally satisfying about that, don’t you think?

9. Ennis and Jack from Annie Proulx’s “Brokeback Mountain.”

I saw the film version of this tale long before reading the short story it was based on. Ennis and Jack’s gruff and pragmatic personalities worked so well together. They were perfect for each other. If only they’d live in a time and place where it was easier for two people of the same gender to share a life together.

What would you recommend I add to my list to bring it to up to 10 books? I tried so hard to think of one final couple, but I just couldn’t do it.