Amy (old posts, page 28)

Growing Pains

This is our third summer in this house and I'm finally starting to get some inkling of an idea of what to do with the garden.

Today we dug up some of that unreasonable raspberry patch and replaced it with a blueberry plant that Blake bought on impulse this weekend. we should probably mulch it, but we don't have any mulch. I also moved a few of the ostrich ferns which had been stranded between the fence and the deck when we built the deck. They were on either side of the pathway you see on the bottom right there, and they were in danger of being trampled. So I dug a nice new bed on the opposite side of the garden, by the fence about halfway back, and moved five of the ferns over there. I'm going to get some huechera to go in between and it should be quite charming. I love ostrich ferns—I told Blake I would be happy if our garden was, like, forty percent ferns. They even smell good.

We spent a lot of time cleaning out the hedge in the front yard. I don't really want that hedge but I haven't come up with anything better to do there so we're keeping it for now, but it's a mess. Lots of different things growing in it, to the extent that I had to arbitrarily decided which species was the "real" hedge and then yank out anything that wasn't that, including a truly irritating number of maple treelets. I'm not sure what the hedge is made up of, but I've noticed a few hedges of it in the neighbourhood so it must be something pretty standard. While I was checking out other people's hedges I noticed more than a few which were lousy with maple. One was mainly maple.

The last big accomplishment today was moving the composter from the neighbour's yard to ours. They are shiny urban hipsters and composting isn't really their thing—the composter was left by the previous owner—so they said we could have it. We tucked it just behind the new fern bed, not too far from the house that we won't use it, but not too close either. It's not terribly ugly and I think once the ferns grow up more it will be mostly concealed.

Incidentally, having our own compost will yet further complicate throwing stuff out, because now we'll have two categories of compost: backyard compost (fruit and veg scraps, tea and coffee, and yard waste) and city compost (leftovers, meat, kleenex, all that gross stuff). So we'll need two containers on the kitchen counter. There's gotta be a good way to do that but I haven't figured it out yet.

The Plan

Okay, "plan" is a little grandiose for something that's not much more than a collection of notions. First, as you can see I've covered a fair bit of ground with that giant playstructure. For now I'm happy to have that area be weeds and dirt, and it's happy to oblige. So that's a good 320 square foot I don't have to worry about. (Well, I planted some scarlet runner beans to grow up it just for fun.)

I want to create a path between the back gate and garage, and the front gate (which is where the path by the deck leads). Ideally that would be some kind of cool flagstone path, either with rectangular flagstones or crazy paving, but for now we'll have to settle for the leftover Unilock from those same neighbours' previous front path. It would also make sense to pave the area around the laundry dryer since I stand around there a lot and lawn doesn't stand a chance. Plus that way if I drop something it won't get all muddy.

We've got the vegetable garden going by the deck there, and I expect it will stay there because that's one of the sunniest parts of the yard, unless we give up on it altogether and just grow food in the planters on the deck.

For the rest of the garden, I'm going for a low-maintenance, woodland, bird- and butterfly-friendly mainly-native plant vibe. The only specific plants I have in mind at the moment are a Saskatoon berry plant for the birds, and something evergreen for winter interest, of which I have none at the moment. I'm finding it really hard to source native plants but I suspect I just don't know where to look. I need to keep researching them so that I have the names of native plants in my head, so I recognise them when I see them. Most garden centres and catalogues don't have any comment on whether plants are native or not.

That's the plan. It's going to take a while to get there, but at least I have some idea where I'm going so I'm no longer paralysed by my garden. Onward!

April and May Books

I was given Love Monkey by Kyle Smith by a friend who hated it. Not sure what this says about my friends, but I definitely didn't hate this book. It's your typical 30-something single New Yorker looking for love book, except the protagonist is a guy instead of a chick.

Smith sets up his protagonist, Tom Farrell, as a dick—he's rude to his mother and he's a cartoon-watching, cereal-for-dinner-eating man-boy—and then redeems him over the course of the book with self-deprecating honesty and vulnerability, and with the charming, witty conversations he has with his romantic interests, the almost-perfect Julia and the reliable back-up date Bran.

I found it interesting to get into this particular man's head. At first I was quite put off by how self-conscious Farrell is and how he overanalyses and manipulates situations to suit himself, but then I realized that I do that too—we all do. For example, I had some people over yesterday, some of my coolest and brightest friends. We all brought some books that we had enjoyed and wanted to pass on, and did a big old book swap. One of the women brought She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb, and she reported that when she chose it her husband questioned her choice: "Think of your brand!" he said. We all made fun of that but I think we all know what he meant—you have this image of yourself that you want to project to other people, and it isn't necessarily your whole, honest nitty-gritty self. You second-guess your impulses, you debate clothing choices, you carefully curate the items in your home. I will admit that the books on display in my dining room are slightly cooler and smarter (and prettier) than the books hidden upstairs. Smith unflinchingly documents Farrell's management of his brand, which could make him seem like a manipulative phony, but his vulnerability and honesty and wit won me over in the end.

Going Solo by Roald Dahl is the sequel to Dahl's childhood memoir, Boy. Going Solo documents Dahl's early twenties working for Shell in Tanzania, and in the Royal Air Force fighting in Greece during the German invasion. He talks about the people he met in Africa, the bizarre adventures he had there, his training as a pilot followed immediately by a spectacular crash which sent him to hospital for six months with a horrible head injury. Once he recovered he was sent right back into the fray, where he faced ridiculous odds against the German invasion and was one of the last of the Allied forces to flee Greece.

The only slow spot in the book was when Dahl detailed apparently every training flight he took. (I expect flying the planes was more interesting than reading about it.) The rest of the book was exciting and moving. The best part was when Dahl encountered a group of Jewish children and the man who was protecting them, hiding them in an obscure corner of Greece. Like so many people, Dahl was oblivious to the Holocaust and his bafflement about the Jews' plight was curiously charming.

The disastrous loss of almost all the men he flew with was a reminder of the idiotic nature of war. I am both thankful that Dahl made it through the war alive, and sickened by the thought of the amazing talents that we will never know about because they didn't.

I enjoyed Going Solo and would recommend it particularly to boys, although I don't know what age. (I picked it up at the school library, so obviously someone thinks that kids twelve or under would like it.) It's exciting and captures what it was to be a gentleman and adventurer in an earlier, but still fairly recent, time.

We read The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett in Book Club. I gave it a 5, which is the second-lowest rating I have given a book club book. My first exposure to this book was back when it came out in '89; it was panned horribly by a Globe and Mail reviewer and one of the English teachers at my high school used the review as an example of how to review a book negatively. I don't recall if I read that review, but ever since high school I've carried with me the idea that this is not a particularly good book, and reading it didn't turn that impression around.

My two main problems with the book are that the writing is clunky and awful, and that it has no particular Literary Value—it's not clever. I did quite like the characters, and the plot was exciting if a little relentless towards the end. The book was well-researched and Follett certainly made sure to put in plenty of historical detail so all that time doing research didn't go to waste. I enjoyed all the information about building and architecture, and I appreciate Follett's attempts to describe complicated structures without illustrations. I wish he had put a little more effort into period-appropriate language; the book is thick with anachronistic words and usages. For example, when writing from the point-of-view of a female character he refers to menstruation as having a period, a usage which didn't appear until the 1800s. The book would have been richer and more engaging if the language hadn't seemed so modern.

In the end The Pillars of the Earth didn't engross me. I read on because I wanted to know what happened, but I wasn't invested in the characters or absorbed into the action.

Get a Freelance Life:'s Insider Guide to Freelance Writing by Margit Feury Ragland Yes, you see where I'm going. I kind of hate how listing the books I've read provides a kind of window into what I'm thinking about, but there doesn't seem to be any real point in being secretive.

This is the second book I've read on writing as a job, so you might suppose that I'm contemplating a new career direction. Well, maybe I am. If I were this would be a very helpful book, perhaps even one to buy and keep around. It has plenty of advice on how to launch your writing career, how to focus on a speciality, how to do research, pitching ideas, the editing process and all the many varieties of editor that can be found in the wild, and much more besides. The book is aimed mainly at magazine and book writing, with only one chapter about business writing.

I started reading Make a REAL Living As A Freelance Writer: How to Win Top Writing Assignments by Jenna Glatzer but right at the beginning of the book she says something about how you could make a living writing for businesses, but would you rather tell your friends that your byline is on an article in People, or that you wrote the piece of junk mail they just tore up. Well, first off I'm not a pathetic celebrity whore, and second not all business writing is junk mail. I don't even think I have any friends who read People! (My problem with writing for magazines is that I don't really read them: I read Toronto Life, New Scientist, Today's Parent and Chirp. I'd be happy to write for any of those publications, but a potential market of four magazines is hardly going to put bread on the table.)

Between that, the ALL-CAPS EMPHASIS in the title, and some snotty comment about how it's so unprofessional to have children crying in the background when you're on a business call (because God forbid you should want to earn a living after having reproduced) and I just gave up on this book. If I ever develop a burning desire to write in magazines for fame and fortune, I will know where to look for advice.

Your Five- and Six-Year-Old by the editors of Parents magazine. Delphine has gone all weird and cranky lately, so I sought out books about six-year-olds to see if it's a Thing, and apparently it's a Thing. Six-year-olds are all neurotic because they're trying to detach from their parents and become independent but at the same time they totally adore us, so that creates this horrible inner conflict which causes them to be psychotic bitches half the time and completely adorable, enthusiastic sweethearts the rest of it. It's exhausting. It's funny how before you have kids everyone tells you about the Terrible Twos, but they don't mention the Fucking Fours or the Psycho Sixes. Two was easy, dude. At least Two doesn't tell you she hates you.

This was a helpful book, nice and pragmatic. Lots of stuff about praise, which is kind of anti-Kohn, but then apparently six-year-olds eat up praise and so much of parenting a six-year-old is about easing them through this horrible stage (they're not enjoying it any more than you are) so maybe a little judicious praise, or at least unbridled adoration, would go a long way.

The Fine Art of Copyediting by Elsie Myers Stainton When I mentioned to Greg Wilson that I was pondering a writing career he suggested I consider editing as well, so I got a couple of copyediting books out of the library. If you imagine that a book about copyediting would be quite boring, you'd be right. I think this book is probably as exciting as a copyediting book could be, and it was still pretty dry. Stainton does a great job giving an overview of the copyeditor's job, as well as providing plenty of concrete reference material such as editor's marks and grammatical rules. The best part, though, is her defense of the art of copyediting, of the importance of it and the satisfaction of being part of the intellectual discourse.

I learned some things about editing which I didn't know: I didn't realize that editors are responsible for identifying poor reasoning and flawed arguments, nor did I realize that they are supposed to identify racist and sexist language. It's not just grammatical nitpicking! (It's other kinds of nitpicking too!) That made me much more interested in copyediting, although I'm not sure I am detail-oriented enough to be a good copyeditor. It's worth contemplating further.

Further Thoughts on Guides

I've been thinking some more about Guides. There's a lot more to it than I first thought. The problems I wrote about yesterday, with the badges and the structure, those are problems of unmet potential. Guides could be a fantastically cool opportunity for girls to explore their interests and challenge themselves, but in fact it's a leader-centred crafts-and-activities club. Some of the crafts and activities are cool, some of them are pretty lame, but they're seldom actively damaging. (Although I wish Delphine's troop hadn't chosen to do a bridal shower for a leader in one of the meetings.)

But failed potential is only that; it doesn't mean Sparks has no value. It's an all-girl group of friends separate from Delphine's school friends, which is important. It's good for kids to have more than one group of friends; if one group goes wrong with bitchiness or drama, you have other friends to fall back on. And it's valuable for kids of either gender to spend significant amounts of time in same-sex groups. On both those counts, Sparks stacks up in a way that I don't think will be easy to find elsewhere.

The other nice thing about Sparks/Brownies/Guides is that it taps into the Guiding infrastructure. They have programs, they have funding, they have summer camps and campsites. (Sparks don't go camping, but Brownies do.) Camping with Brownies and Guides was my first exposure to real camping, and it had a lasting impact on me as it did on Kat.

Guides is also an organization with a rich history, and it's represented throughout the world. When I was a kid I remember thinking it was pretty cool that there were Girl Guides just like me in places like India and Australia.

I've tried, largely in vain, to find other clubs or organizations which would fit the bill: a (preferably) girls-only organization which will provide community and allow my girls to explore their interests and challenge themselves in a supportive, pedagogically progressive environment. In the States they have Earth Scouts and Camp Fire Boys and Girls, which seem to be much more sciency, and more child-centred, than Guides. Camp Fire Boys and Girls is US only. The Earth Scouts website is pretty horrifying and they do that stupid badge thing too. (Maybe my standards are too high.) I've thought about seeing if the ROM or the OSC have any kind of generic Science or Discovery clubs, but they wouldn't provide that continuity of community that I'm hoping for. I've even thought about starting something up myself, but I don't care about this enough to invest that kind of time and effort into it. (Not that I don't care very much, but it would be a lot of time and effort.)

In conclusion, Sparks seems to be the best of a bad lot of options. Is that good enough? I'm still thinking about it.

Guides or Not?

I'm trying to decide if we should keep Delphine in Sparks next year. (Sparks is the precursor to Brownies, for 5- to 6-year-olds.) Delphine has been in Sparks for the last year, and now the time has come to sign up for next year. But I have serious qualms.

Guides is supposed to be about empowering girls and allowing them to build confidence, and yet they're going about it all wrong. The organization decides what girls should be interested in (by making badges available), decides how they should go about exploring those interests (the bullet-point items you have to fulfill before getting a badge) and then rewards them for their interest. Rewarding kids for things is a proven demotivator. And worse, in Sparks the girls haven't even had a chance to express their own interests: the meetings are predetermined at the beginning of the year. The girls' interests don't even come into play! It's incredibly disappointing to see a great opportunity to excite and engage girls be squandered because the adults involved lack the knowledge or imagination to do things differently.

Of course it's a giant crapshoot how good your troop is going to be because the Guide organization doesn't provide all that much, well, guidance on how to plan and run meetings. You might get amazing leaders who do know how to motivate and engage kids, or your girls might be stuck with a group of unruly kids led by frustrated adults yelling at them to shut up and get on with the Pointless Craft of the Day.

And if that weren't annoying enough, you have to sign an idiotic release form every time the troop does anything out of the ordinary. If the organization is that risk-averse, how are they going to help my girls become fearless?

Finally it's expensive. The annual fee is $125, there's a $1 dues charge at every meeting, and twice a year we have to pay $96 for those lousy cookies (and then dispose of them as we see fit). Plus we had to buy a shirt and sash. I suppose compared to the $250 or so that we spend on most 12-week programs Guides isn't actually all the pricey, but they seem to keep leeching at us all year instead of just once up front.

On the plus side, Delphine really enjoys it. But then she really enjoys watching Backyardigans and eating gummy worms too.

Garbage In, Garbage Out

Here is the how I throw thing out:

I recycle: plastic containers and glass (the plastic containers with their lids on but not the glass containers), tin cans, styrofoam, cardboard cans with their metal lids, plastic bags but only the ones from stores, and not the bags that milk bags come in which are completely identical but for some reason unacceptable. That's okay, I save them for cat litter. Also plastic bags must be recycled in bunches, not one by one. Further I save the bags without holes in them to contain regular garbage and compost, which means that I have three separate streams into which plastic bags can possibly go. Also recyclable are newspapers, magazines, and regular paper but not paper that the girls have glued random crap onto, nor stickers (too sticky, they gum up the recycling works).

Speaking of compost, that's the City of Toronto compost which accepts all the usual vegetable matter as well as any other food (except gum), paper plates and napkins (but not paper cups from coffee shops), diapers, kleenex and paper towels, tea bags, cat litter and dog poo but not cotton balls, q-tips, or hair and fingernail clippings. (Because that would be gross.)

Outside, there's yard waste, which is weeds and leaves and twigs and stuff but not grass clippings.

Then there's the stuff which isn't garbage yet, the clothes and toys and furniture and housewares we don't need. Some of that I'm saving for the school's fundraising garage sale, some of it goes into the Goodwill bag for when Andy does a Goodwill run, and some of the toys I'm saving for that mythical day when I sort out all their pieces and find their manuals and take them to the consignment store.

Finally, as a last resort, there's regular garbage: anything that doesn't fit into the above categories, mainly rejected plastic bags and other plastic packaging, and broken things.

I hate throwing things out because it's complicated. It's hard to believe that fifty years ago people just threw everything away in one container. How simple! Which is exactly why it's dangerous — it can't be that easy to get rid of things. You have to be mindful of whether your trash still has value, as a source of energy or materials, or to someone else in its current form. And when I'm feeling sorry for myself because it's so hard to throw something out I remind myself that I wouldn't have this problem if I didn't bring that thing into my house in the first place.

Apocalypse When?

In the last few weeks I have had no fewer than four conversations about the impending apocalypse. Not ironic conversations, either. (Well, one of them involved zombies, but the others were in earnest.) One of my friends has a plan for what to do if America annexes Canada. Another is trying to work out how to feed her family with what she can grow in her backyard.

We are all serious. We all believe that the world is going to change drastically in the next twenty to fifty years, and it's by no means clear that the changes will go smoothly. We face climate change, a crisis in the food distribution networks, a global pandemic, peak oil, economic collapse, and even (this one is new!) loss of electrical service due to a massive solar storm. There's a palpable sense among my peer group that we're living in a fantasy, that the life we live is too good to last. We've built an edifice so high, so fragile and so glorious that it is bound to come tumbling down.

Does anyone else feel this way? Is it just me and my weird friends? Admittedly we all tend to be overthinkers, we are all a little fringey and cynical and mistrustful of common knowledge and received wisdom. The mainstream media seems oblivious: articles in the Globe only occasionally mention climate change, apart from the articles on climate change off in the "Science" ghetto. There was fear of a flu pandemic a few years ago, but after it died down no-one mentioned the danger again until this latest outbreak of swine flu, despite the fact that the risk of a flu pandemic never actually changed. As for the food thing, no-one seems to be acting on the fact that our food production and distribution system is a house of cards, apart from a few urban foodies who are willing to pay hundreds of dollars for a share in a nearby farm. There doesn't seem to be a meaningful political response to any of these threats, perhaps because the time-frame is so vague, so unfittable into four-year terms.

Ever since the 9/11 / blackout / SARS conflagration of debacles the Government has been encouraging us to have an emergency preparedness kit containing enough food, water, flashlights, blankets and medical supplies to last 72 hours. That's a good start, but that's so not the scale of emergency I'm worrying about. I'm talking weeks or months or years of upheaval followed by an entirely new way of life.

So what am I doing? Well, mainly just worrying, and speculating. What's gonna happen if... the power goes out? How long before Toronto cuts down all its famous trees for heat and cooking? What if... Canada is deluged by climate refugees? How many people will we have to share our 2700 square foot of land with in order to live sustainably? What if... there's a flu epidemic? Will the grocery store shelves be empty? Should I buy more flour?

We've done all the major things we can afford to do. We live centrally so we don't need a car. Just by sheer luck we happen to live in the middle of one of the best patches of arable land in Canada, so provided they don't build McMansions all over it we should be well-placed for a mainly-local-food diet. We have a tiny house which is cheap to heat and stays pretty cool in summer. We're trying to grow our own vegetables. One day we'll get some solar panels so we aren't entirely dependent on the electrical grid.

But we're not that crazy! We're not stockpiling food, or medicine, or seeds, or guns. We're not going off the grid. We're not building a bunker. It's hard for me to discern what's too crazy. I was wondering if it would be worth learning how to salt-cure meat, in case the power goes off when we have a freezer full of beef. But then I'd have to stockpile a lot of salt, and that seems to be beyond the too-crazy mark. On the other hand I do intend to find out how to purify water so we can drink the water from the rain barrel if the taps dry out.

Sometimes I feel stupid, worrying about this stuff. Other people don't seem to. What if everything turns out fine? Won't I look silly then? But stupid doesn't begin to describe how I'll feel if something does happen and I'm not prepared, at least as prepared as I can be. In the meantime, life goes on; I shave my legs and get my hair cut and sing and take my children to school. I carry on. I bet you can't even tell I'm crazy.

What I Do

That last post got me thinking about what I do. Is this interesting to anyone else? I don't know.

At Home
  • cook
  • clean
  • laundry
  • read to and play with the girls
  • read
  • watch TV
  • write
  • play on the Internet: mainly read blogs, Twitter
  • sleep
  • garden
  • hang out with friends

Out and About

  • take girls to school and other activities
  • choir
  • run
  • grocery shopping and other errands
  • PTA meetings
  • book club meetings
  • visit friends

That's it, apart from occasional major chores like painting, and occasional events like weddings and parties. Seems like a pretty simple life, which is the way I like it. Otherwise I get confused.

Imbalance, Rebalance

Something's not quite right in my life; I'm out of balance. Fortunately — and I know this is rare — I know what's wrong and I have a pretty good idea how to fix it.

A few months ago I got this laptop. It's a Toshiba Satellite with a Celeron (celery!) processor and 192 MB of RAM. It's running Windows XP and it's really, really slow. (I should probably switch to Ubuntu.) Nevertheless, it's a laptop, and that means I can fart around on the Internet while we watch TV, after the girls are in bed. That's good because it adds an extra couple of hours to my Internet day, giving me time to blog and Twitter. It's bad because somehow the combination of TV and Internet makes it very, very hard for me to get off my butt and go to bed at a reasonable hour, leaving me cranky and exhausted the next day. The other bad is that I don't write particularly well when I'm watching TV, and I don't watch TV particularly well when I'm writing. The TV I watch tends to reward attentive viewing, and half-watching it is worse than either watching it or not watching it at all.

Simple problem, simple fix: I'm going to stop using the laptop in the evenings, and instead watch TV properly, or read if it's one of Blake's shows. I'll go to bed at a decent hour, which will give me the energy to write in the afternoons. Currently my afternoons are spent either napping (on the really bad days) or reading, with a little light housekeeping if I absolutely have to. I'm not sure whether writing in the afternoon will deal too much of a blow to my reading time; I hope I will be able to get to bed by ten and read until eleven, and maybe read in the mornings sometimes too.

All this is temporary, of course: once Cordelia is in school everything will change again and I'll have to find a new balance.

April Books

Getting Started As A Freelance Writer by Robert Bly (2008) is about... well, just guess what it's about. It was on the "new" cart at the library so I thought I would check it out. Maybe I can be a freelance writer! Here's how!

Robert Bly has written about a million books, almost all of which you undoubtedly haven't heard of, and he also writes magazine articles, marketing material, annual reports, brochures, junk email... pretty much anything you can make money at. He's not an "author" or a "novelist", he's a writer, and in this book he tells you how you can make a living as a writer too.

Obviously it's hard for me to say whether his advice is any good since I'm not a writer, nor have I ever read any other books on making a living as a writer. It seems pretty sensible - he offers practical advice on how to set up your office, how to market yourself, how to manage your writing business, how to find work - but then this guy makes most of his living writing "direct mail marketing" copy, ie, snake oil ads. Bly also makes lots of money through self-published ebooks, booklets, giving speeches, selling CDs of his speeches... basically regurgitating the same content in as many ways as possible to get more money out of it.

The book also contains sections on gettings cartoons, personal essays, and poems published.

Ironically, the book could have been better written, or perhaps better edited. There were a couple of times where he introduced the same concept twice within a page or two, as if he had rearranged some paragraphs and then not checked it closely enough. (This, I suppose, supports his contention that you don't have to be a good writer to make a living at it.) The section on the Internet was terribly dated; "If you think, as some people do, that there's any future in the Internet". (That's a paraphrase, I forgot to write down the exact quote.) This edition was a rework of the 1997 edition, and clearly he should have paid more attention to the Internet section.

I'm not sure whether this book convinced me that you can make good money writing, or whether it just showed that you can make money doing just about anything if you are willing to work hard enough at selling yourself, and repackaging your material in lots of different ways. The more I think about it the more it seems what made Bob Bly rich wasn't being a writer but being an entrepreneur, which is not to say that you can't make money writing, but Bly's path to riches isn't exactly the path I want to take.

One more thing - Bob Bly makes lots of money selling books about how to be a copywriter, and on further investigation there's a whole online cottage industry of ebooks, email newsletters, etc about writing. Doesn't that seem like a pyramid scheme? Bly sells a book about writing to 2000 people, those people write and sell 2000 books each - what happens when everyone who wants to be a writer has bought a book about it? Doesn't someone, at some point, have to write about something else?

Thomas Foster mentioned the novels of Reginald Hill a few times in How to Read Novels Like A Professor, so when I found Pictures of Perfection in a plastic bag at someone's curb, I picked it up. It says on the cover that it's a Dalziel/Pascoe mystery, but Dalziel and Pascoe are fairly minor players; the main investigator is a policeman (I can never remember people's rank) named Wield who is sent off to an odd little village in Yorkshire - odd not in the usual Yorkshire way - to discover the whereabouts of the missing village bobby. On the way to locating the missing policeman, Wield meets various peculiar village characters and has to sort out their relationships, their history, and their intentions.

Reginald Hill writes for an intelligent reader - this book is rich with references to literature and music. He has a knack for describing things in a way which makes you pay attention. Here he is saying someone has a good memory:

Wield's brain, which his CID chief, Andy Dalziel, opinied should be picked in strong ale and and sold to IBM after the sergeant's death, had been punching up references to Enscombe.

And here he says the same character is hairy:

Wield barked the sound which his friends recognized as his way of expressing amusement - though others often took it as a sign that the interrupted lycanthropic process suggested by his face was about to be resumed.

This is not writing for a lazy reader.

I very much enjoyed this book; I liked the characters, I liked the relationships, I liked the mystery.

Delphine's Meal Plan

Delphine has gotten to be pretty picky at the dinner table, and after one too many "I hate this!"es, Blake and I decided to let Delphine pick every dinner this week. Blake walked her through picking things that are on sale, and he also advised her on the standard protein-vegetable-starch distribution of a meal.

So this is what we're having this week. Try and guess which words Delphine wrote and which were Blake's (Blake likes Random Capitalization and Punctuation):

  • Mashed Potatoes & Hot Dogs AND (charred) ESPARAGIS
  • Pizza with Pepperoni & Tomato
  • Chicken Sandwiches & cut up apples & Corn on the cob.
  • Burritos (Beans, tomato, cooked carrots, cheese)

Should be a tasty week.