Category Archives: Personal Life

Search Engine Questions From 2021

Man looking quizzical as he holds a cup with a string attached to it up to his ear. Every year I take the last two weeks of December off from serious blogging to recharge. One of the lighthearted topics I write ahead of time and save for the end of the year is related to answering search engine questions.

The phrases and sentences in bold below are the most amusing and thought-provoking queries that have sent new readers to this site over the last year that didn’t quite warrant their own blog posts.

There are a few mild spoilers for The Handmaid’s Tale, The Others, and The Little Stranger in this post, so reader beware. Oh, and this post will be a long one, so settle in for about two thousand words of frivolity.

 

Hope Santa brings you lots of presents

This one is about a week late, but I was pleased with my haul this year. It included the perfect amounts of chocolate, tea, and warm socks. Ha!

 

What does autumn taste like?

I think autumn tastes like candy corn, fresh breezes, fun-sized Halloween candy bars, apple cider, all of the produce that ripens then, and, if you catch any of the illnesses that are so easily passed around during cold and flu season, cough drops.

 

 If you liked the fall you will like….

I was going to say Halloween, but I know that not everyone loves that holiday the way I do.

I think people who like the fall might also like:

  • The mild, friendly temperatures of spring
  • Places on Earth that have mild temperatures in general like Vancouver or Seattle
  • Endings (since autumn happens at the end of the year)
  • Looking back at your accomplishments
  • Long, dark evenings
  • Rainy days

 

 

How much perfume is too much

Too much cologne

Strong, heavily-applied scents can make me wheeze and, even worse, trigger a migraine.

I hope that anyone who wears them remains mindful of how much they use and how their choices affect others. A little spritz or dab is plenty.

Ariana Grande spraying copious amounts of perfume on herself

 

Don’t brag about your morals.

Agreed. I’m always a little suspicious of people or organizations who loudly proclaim how moral and upstanding they are.

Shouldn’t that be self-evident through their actions? Why are they drawing attention to themselves Iike that? Are they trying to divert our attention away from something with all of this humble bragging?

 

Wholesome succubus

Someone needs to write a story about this immediately! I’d never think to put these two words together.

 

Man meditating while sitting on a blue yoga mat How long should I meditate each day?

My name is Lydia, and I might be the world’s worst meditator. That is to say, I only do it occasionally and generally not for more than 10-15 minutes.

How long you should meditate depends on your attention span. May it be better than mine in this scenario!

 

Does baby Angela die in The Handmaid’s Tale?

In the book, a medical professional discovered birth defects in baby Angela soon after she was born. She did not survive them, although it was never clear if the birth defects alone killed her or if someone helped that process along.

In the TV series, she was born healthy and has thrived so far.

 

Is voting worth it? 

Yes, I’d say that it is.

Voting is not a panacea or a quick fix, but it is one of the ways we can share our wishes with elected officials. I mean, would there really be so many attempts to suppress voting if it didn’t work?

 

A frothy pineapple drink in a pineapple. The pineapple is sitting on sand at a tropical beach. Fantasy winter holidays

Is this question asking what my fantasy winter vacation would be like? Is it asking which winter holidays I like? Or maybe it’s asking what the winter vacations and/or winter celebrations are like in fantasy worlds?

My fantasy winter vacation would involve bringing my side of the family to somewhere warm and tropical for a few weeks. I miss them terribly, and what better place to connect than on a beach or in a villa that has never so much as heard of words like freezing rain or blizzard?

I don’t really do traditional celebrations of any winter holidays, but I do like to take note of the Winter Solstice due to my Seasonal Affective Disorder. It’s nice to know that more sunlight is on the way. I also enjoy things like eating feasts, baking cookies, and pretending that the socks and chocolates I gave to myself on Christmas morning came from Santa.

As far as winter vacations and celebrations in fantasy worlds go, it really depends on the fantasy world and when exactly you visit it. Narnia was a very different place when the White Witch made it perpetually winter there for a hundred years in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe than it was, say, when her spell began to break down and Father Christmas was finally allowed to visit once again.

 

The Little Stranger plot explained

An elegant, old mansion might be haunted by the malevolent ghost of a child who died from a disease that young infants are now routinely vaccinated against.

Then again, the people who live there might be imagining things and/or accidentally misinterpreting perfectly ordinary accidents. (Go read my review of it for a deeper analysis).

 

How to say jólakötturinn?

This site gives a pronunciation guide, but to heck if I know how accurate it is. Icelandic readers, can you help?

 

The Others husband explained.

He most likely died in battle. His spirit eventually returned home to be reunited with his wife and children, but he was too traumatized by his last moments on the battlefield to reconnect to them.

I choose to believe he eventually healed enough emotionally to seek them out again. (My review of it is here).

 

National bird of Canada 

Canada has no official bird, although we tried to change that in 2017.

I think that pigeons should be our national bird. They thrive here in Toronto, and I think they’re kind of pretty.

Pigeons walking on a cobbled stone path

 

Is it unprofessional to not wear makeup?

Y’all, I mentioned this once on my blog about a decade ago and still get hits on the topic. Isn’t the Internet a funny place?

In some workplaces, it would be considered unprofessional for a woman not to wear makeup. Those companies are sexist and ableist in my opinion. Some of us are allergic to makeup, or have sensory difficulties with it, or have any number of other medical reasons why we can’t wear it. No one should be pressured to wear (or not to wear it) no matter what their sex or gender identity happens to be.  It has nothing at all do with how effective someone is at answering calls, stocking shelves, frying eggs, writing TPS reports, or making sales goals.

If someone enjoys wearing makeup, good for them! However, I think we should all be judged on the actual metrics of our jobs instead of what colour our lips are.

 

The Land of Painted Caves movie

On several occasions, I’ve blogged about my desire to see a miniseries or film series on Jean M. Abel’s Earth’s Children. I would still love to see the first few books in this series brought to the small or big screen. If the later books could be transformed into scripts that explored the themes and conflicts that were present in the beginning, I’d happily watch them as well.

 

 Is being late acceptable in your culture?

No. I grew up in a family that was generally 10-15 minutes early for everything. It was interesting to grow up and meet people from other cultures who have completely different thoughts on what it means to arrive on time. I’ve met some people who will show up at 3pm when you originally agreed to meet at 1 or 2pm due to assumptions they make about the meaning of time and how closely it should be kept track of!

If these things are clearly communicated ahead of time, I’m cool with it and will simply mark down a later time in my calendar because I am a stickler for arriving when my calendar says I ought to even if the people I’m meeting have a much more flexible interpretation of our meeting time.

I don’t socialize with people who are habitually hours late, refuse to communicate about it, and will make me miss something like dinner or a movie because they can’t arrive on time for things that only happen at certain times or that will cause my blood sugar to crash. (I’m a bit hypoglycaemic, so skipping meals makes me feel sick).

 

Fairies with fangs

Wouldn’t that make them tiny little flying vampires?

 

Describe me in a gif

I have no idea how to describe someone with a gif when I don’t know who I’m describing or what they’re like.

My brother once said that Merida from the animated cartoon “Brave”  reminded him a little of me.

Merida from Brave tossing her curls around.

 

Maybe my readers will respond to this post with gifs that are somehow similar to their looks, personalities, interests, or hobbies?

 

schoch soda

I have no idea why anyone would search for this, but I do have a cute family story about it.

When I was a kid, we’d sometimes ask my dad to open cans of soda for us. He’d always agree so long as he could have the first sip of it. Seeing him drink a little bit of our treats gave us the motivation to learn how to open aluminum tabs as soon as possible!

 

A toy robot walking ominously on a reflective black surface. What happens when computers get smarter than we are?

I’d argue that some of them already are more intelligent than some of us. Eventually, this will happen more routinely. It’s nothing to worry about so long as we program them correctly and treat them kindly.

 

What rhymes with Lydia

Plenty of words rhyme with Lydia, but most of them aren’t words you’d hear in most ordinary conversations. For example, telosporidia or Numidia both rhyme with Lydia.

 

When mindfulness is a bad idea

Anything can be a bad idea in excess.

I’d say mindfulness is a bad idea if you dwell in a moment that needs decisive action. For example, if someone is choking or if you’re in some other situation that requires you to get up and do something about it right now.

 

Tips and hints for aspiring writers.

Stop calling yourself an aspiring writer.

if you write, you’re a writer.

You don’t have to be traditionally published, hybrid published, or self published.

Writers write. That’s all you need to know.

 

Is William Golding still alive?

Only if you’re a time traveler from 1993.

 

Let’s end this very long post on a cheerful note.

 

There’s always hope gif

Aragorn saying “there’s always hope” to another character in Lord of the Rings

This is the perfect gif to end this post and this year with.

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Bookish Wintry Gifs and Photos

Hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

A snow-covered bench in a snow-covered park. I’m going to be achingly honest with all of you here. The winter holiday season is hard for me for a few different reasons.

One, I have seasonal depression that usually kicks in by early November when Ontario’s days grow short and our sunlight is weak and brief at best.

Two, I live thousands of miles away from the safe and loving relatives that I’d otherwise get to see during the various winter holidays we celebrate.  That homesickness is tough, especially since I haven’t been able to see those family members in a few years now thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Three, I used to work in an industry that was extremely busy in November and December and have some bad memories of those stressful months that felt like they’d never end.

When you combine all of these factors together, I basically begin counting down the days until January 1 arrives as soon as the leaves begin to change colour. In the meantime, I am happy for all of you who enjoy this time of year and hope it’s wonderful for you.

What I really want to do for the next few weeks is curl up and think happy bookish thoughts as winter approaches. Maybe some bookish wintry gifs and photos will suffice? I will be including brief alt-text descriptions of everything in this post for readers who are sight-impaired or who can’t see the photos and gifs for some other reason.

 

Person reading a book while sitting next to a crackling fireplace.

Reading by a fireplace sounds nice.

 

Olaf making a snow angel.

So does making a snow angel. That always feels like it should be the beginning of a story to me. Maybe it’s because you leave behind such pretty imprints in the snow when you’re done.

 

Snoopy characters caroling.

I went carolling a few times with friends as a teenager. I might be too shy to do it now, although I’d happy listen to others do it or help pick out the songs! Once again, this sounds like the opening scene of a book. I’m sure the closing scene would involve the main character performing a solo or something similar.

 

A weeping willow tree covered in icicles and snow.

There is a certain beauty to seeing trees covered in ice and snow. It’s almost like seeing a poem come to life.

 

Stock photo of a gigantic stone statue covered in snow and ice. It’s sitting in a valley next to a small cabin that has smoke coming out of its chimney and one light glowing from a window.

And some of the winter stock images of fantasy scenes are delightful.

 

Person wearing a heavy winter coat and scarf carrying a mug of hot chocolate.

It’s also nice to be entering the tea, hot chocolate, and other beverages time of year. There’s nothing like sipping a cup of something warm and soothing while you read.

 

Snoopy blowing a streamer and saying Happy New Year.

I’ll end this post with a question. Is it too soon to start thinking about what to read in 2022? The new year will be here sooner than we might think!

What do you all think of the winter holiday season?

Top Ten Tuesday: Bookish Memories

Hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

I don’t know if I’ll be able to come up with a full ten answers for this week’s prompt, but I do have some fun bookish memories to share with you all.

 


Bookish Memory #1
: Falling asleep while waiting for my dad to come home from a late night at work. I always wanted him to tell me stories about his childhood again. He had a marvellous way of turning his childhood into something just as exciting as any novel! I especially loved his story about accidentally setting his bed on fire when he was pretending to be big and powerful like Superman. He threw one lit match on it and then tried to blow it out just like Superman would do. (The fire was soon put out, and he never tried anything like that again. It was truly an innocent mistake). Sometimes I’d quietly retell his stories to myself as I waited to see ifPerson holding an annotated paperback book open. The book has a sticky note in it that says remember. he’d be home soon!

Bookish Memory #2: My mother reading the first few Little House on the Prairie books to me. I took over reading them as soon as my reading skills were strong enough because I couldn’t wait to find out what happened next and she needed to look after my younger siblings.

Bookish Memory #3: Being so bored in church that I read portions of the Bible that weren’t being discussed during that week’s sermon. I was a preacher’s kid, so I had plenty of opportunities to “read ahead” so to speak.

Bookish Memory #4: Occasionally getting away with reading secular books during long church services. Shh, don’t tell my parents. 😉

Bookish Memory #5: Discovering a fairy tale my aunt had started writing but not finished when she was a little girl. So far as I can recall, it was about a princess and a magic necklace.  I added a few more scenes to it and then tucked it away where I found it. Maybe someday another little girl in our family will find it in that cupboard and finish it!

Bookish Memory #6: Being excited to start high school and later on college because of the wonderful new school libraries I was about to gain access to! I remember staring into the dark windows of those still-empty libraries just before the school year began and wishing they’d open early for me. I would have promised to leave everything exactly how I’d found if I could only browse the shelves for an hour and take note of which books I’d hope to check out first.

Bookish Memory #7: Memorizing the summer hours of our local public library and timing my walks there so I could arrive first thing in the morning or later in the evening depending on my work schedule. I knew exactly how long that walk took and was often the first (or last) patron of the day.  Let’s just say that July and August are quite hot and humid in the Midwestern portion of the United States. You do not want to be walking around in the full heat of the day for too long. Sunburns and heat strokes can happen terribly quickly if you’re not careful.

Bookish Memory #8: Attending the annual book sale and book/art festival in support of that same local library. I’d often find a few secondhand books that piqued my interest after I’d bought a slice or pie or some other treat.  We lived in a small, sleepy town, so events like this were a big deal for everyone who loved the local library!

 

A Photo Essay Update on Damaged Toronto Trees

Last year I shared photos from one of the parks in Toronto once a month to show my readers what our landscape looks like throughout the year. This is an update to two trees in that series that were badly damaged in a winter storm in early 2020.

Click on February, MarchAprilMayJune, July, August, September, October, November, and December, and January to read the earlier posts and see what the park is like throughout the year.

Welcome back to this photo essay series! This post will be shorter than previous instalments in it since I’m only focusing on the two damaged trees that some readers requested an update on after the winter of 2020-2021 ended.

Photo of a damaged tree whose branches are curving downward.

Let’s begin with the tree that lost a third of its leaves in that storm last year.

Look at how nearly all of its branches continue to bend down. You rarely see anything like that here.

 

A large branch that has fallen off of a sick tree.

A week or two ago, I noticed a branch that was taller than me lying on the ground next to it. I suspect that it fell off during a recent storm due to the lack of cut marks on it and the way the bark was peeled off, but I can’t say for certain.

A large bare tree branch lying on the ground.

On a more recent visit, I saw this. I thought it was the same branch but also couldn’t confirm it.

A possibly rotting trunk of a tree.

The trunk looks like it’s beginning to split open, and something appears to be growing inside of it. Maybe it’s mould or a fungus of some sort?

I worry about the survival of this tree as well as the possibility of someone getting hurt if a large branch falls on them while they’re standing near it.

Closeup of a tree that lost half of it's branches.

In happier news, the tree that originally lost half of its branches and a good chunk of its trunk is not showing any signs of mould (or whatever that stringy stuff was) growing in it. The wound on its drunk appears to be dry. There are no deep cracks in the wood, and all of it’s branches are as straight as the branches on healthy trees nearby. Landscape shot of a tree that lost half of it's branches in a storm in 2020. It's just beginning to bud again.

And to think I originally assumed this tree had been killed in that storm! Nature is full of surprises.

Side view of tree that lost half of it's branches in a 2020 storm. The branches that still remain are just beginning to sprout many new leaves.

 

May it stick around for many years to come.

I’ll continue to keep an eye on these trees and will provide another update in this series if either one of them experiences a dramatic change in health for the better or the worse. My hope is that any future update in this series will only contain good news, but we’ll have to see what happens.

If you’ve ever seen trees in your area go through similar injuries, I’d love to hear about your experiences there.

My reduction in blogging time will continue on for now. As much as I miss interacting with all of you more often, I’m enjoying the quieter schedule and using that writing time to focus on my speculative fiction.

Why I’m Reducing My Blogging Frequency

Content warning: this post includes references to seasonal depression, people who died from Covid-19, and people who are permanently disabled from Covid-19. 

I’ve been blogging for many years now. It’s been my experience that blogging can be a cyclical hobby or profession.

Sometimes bloggers have plenty of time to write and so many topics we can’t imagine how we’ll find room in our editorial calendars for everything we want to say. In other seasons of life, things change.

I Need to Rest

Brown and white bunny in a wicker basket on a bed
Not my bunny or basket, but I grok this feeling.

In some ways, it has felt like March of 2020 never ended. All of the events and trips I looked forward to when the long, dark days of winter feel never-ending were cancelled last year and they are beginning to be rapidly cancelled again this year.

To be perfectly clear, I completely understand why this is necessary for public health and safety and in no way sympathize with the anti-lockdown, anti-mask, and anti-science protestors.

Honestly, I have had a much easier experience during this pandemic than many people out there. I have safe housing, a loving marriage, plenty of food, and money to pay the bills.

Out of all of my relatives who have caught Covid-19 so far, only one distant relation has passed away from it and only one or maybe two closer relatives have what are probably permanent health effects from it.

I’m very grateful for my and our good fortune in these troubled times. So many people are dealing with much harder situations.

With that being said, I’m also bone-tired. For anyone taking notes out there, the winter blues do not mix well with pandemics at all. This combination should be avoided at all costs in both real life and fiction. I’d give it zero stars out of ten even if you have somehow personally have managed not to know anyone who caught Covid-19. It’s exhausting.

I Need to Write Fiction

Closeup photo of person typing on laptop keyboardMy other reason for trimming back on new blog posts here is a cheerful one.I need to preserve more energy and creative juice for writing my speculative fiction stories!

It’s been several years since my last tale was published. That must change. I have pages of notes and rough drafts for future stories. All I need is the time and creative juice to bring them to life.

It is my hope that this new blogging schedule will facilitate that once my mood perks up in the spring.

Longterm readers might remember that I’ve gone through similar periods of cutting back on blogging here before. It’s something I really don’t like doing, but sometimes it’s necessary even if it makes me want to go sit in the Naughty Blogger corner for daring to change my posting schedule. LOL!

I’ll revisit this decision later on this year to see how I’m feeling and how sustainable the new blogging schedule is.

The New Blogging Schedule

Snapshot of an iPad that is opened to a page that says "my weekly priorities" and has a numbered list on it.
My hope is to eventually return to my usual Monday – Thursday schedule, but I’m cutting out all Monday posts for now. They generally tend to take up as much writing time as two to three of my other weekly posts combined.

If you follow me on Twitter, I will continue to share several posts from my archives each Monday for #MondayBlogs. Thank goodness that past me wrote plenty of them to cycle through while current me rests.

(Some? Most?) Tuesdays – Top Ten Tuesday posts. I love the TTT community, so I’ll do my best to stay connected to it when my energy levels and other commitments allow for that.

Wednesdays – Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge posts

Thursdays -speculative fiction book reviews, but probably only for short stories.

This is the hardest part of the year for me even during non-pandemic times. April is always better for my mental health, especially once I’ve had multiple long walks in the warm sunshine and my brain realizes spring truly has arrived.

If only I had a crystal ball that could tell us all exactly when this pandemic will end and life will feel more predictable again.

How has Covid-19 impacted your blogging and writing habits? How are you all feeling now that we’re over one year into this pandemic? Do you also feel guilty about changing your blogging routines?

What I Read in 2020

In January of 2013, I began blogging once a year about everything I’d read that previous year.  This tradition began when my dad asked me how many books I’ve read in my entire lifetime. I couldn’t begin to give him an answer to that question, but it did make me decide to start keeping track… Read More