Dec 5, 2016

Marchpane Monday

marchpane ~ old name for marzipan

It’s been an exciting 30 days, but I’m happy to report I have yet another NaNo win under my belt. I admit that there were days when I had serious doubts about finishing, but I was blessed with some hefty word counts towards the end there.

I’m not going to go into any more detail than that here - but if you’d like to learn more you’ll need to check out my Other Blog. There's even an excerpt from my story. :-D

But winning NaNo did not come without a price. Save for my daily babysitting, I became a virtual hermit for the last couple of weeks of November. And I missed my sister’s birthday (sorry sis! There’ll be a little something extra in your Christmas parcel). And suddenly it’s December and I’m totally unprepared for Christmas.

So ... other stuff happened during the month of November ...

One of the biggies was that we got a new (to us) car. The old car had a few problems - okay, a lot of problems, one of which was how it would shudder when you came to a stop and often times stalled - but we were hoping it would last at least until the spring. So we took it into the car place and they had a look to see what needed to be fixed immediately and what could wait. AND they finally identified the shuddering/stalling problem.

The problem was, it was going to cost more to fix everything than the car was worth. So in less time than it takes for you to say “It’s going to cost how much?” we found ourselves the proud owners of a 2012 GMC Terrain. It has six cylinders, low mileage, and is fully loaded. And I mean fully. You need to take a course to operate this thing properly.

You can control the volume of the radio - and change stations - from the steering wheel. It has heated seats; a remote starter; memory settings for the driver’s seat. The guy at the car dealership even synced my phone to it - if I want make a call while I'm driving I just press the phone button on the steering wheel and I can call using a voice command. But best of all, it has electronic windows that work! I don’t have to get out of the car to get the ticket in parking lots. I can go through drive-thrus now! It’s awesome.

We also bought a car seat for it so now the grandbaby and I get to go on road trips. Mostly to Walmart and the Dollarama, but we’ve also started going to a drop-in play group. Good times are had by all.

In the building and constructing department ... The hubby finished building the washstand for the bathroom and painting in there has commenced. He also finished the toy chest for the grandbaby - it looks amazing. And if anything happens to her crib her parents can just put a mattress inside the toy chest and let her sleep in that. LOL Sorry I don't have a picture to post but they're on my phone and they need to be cropped and lightened up and it's really late as I type this. ;-)

The other big thing that happened was the hubby gave me a surprise early Christmas present - tickets for us to see Loreena McKennitt at Massey Hall in Toronto. It was an awesome evening.

Unfortunately, the brownie points hubby earned from that were short-lived. It was after this that he decided to use an electric sander on the walls of the bathroom. To be fair, had he continued to do it by hand he’d probably still be sanding, but still ... even with the door closed we have drywall dust everywhere.

For those of you unfamiliar with the dry wall dust phenomena, let me explain. Imagine, if you will, powerful fans blowing throughout your house. Now imagine someone emptying a bag of flour in front of those fans. I think you get the idea.

One of the worst hit rooms with the dust was my office, which is almost right across the hall from the bathroom. Since the danger of more dust is now past, I started the cleanup in there today. I managed to clean the curtains, window, window wall, the top of my bank of three bookcases, and the top shelf of said bookcases. That was it. Have I mentioned I have a lot of knick knacks on those bookcases?

*sigh*

I’m thinking this is a job that can wait until I get some time off between Christmas and New Year’s.

Ho ho ho.

Nov 21, 2016

Mystacial Monday

mystacial ~ having a mustache-like stripe



Yeah, that’s pretty much me lately.

I know other stuff has been happening, but I haven’t really been keeping track of it. It’s all about the words.

The good news is, I’m slowly catching up.

The bad news is, as I type this I’m still about 6,000 words behind.

It’s still a crap shoot whether I’ll finish on time or not.

Stay tuned ...

;-)

Nov 9, 2016

Movie Time ...

. . . Is kind of cancelled this week.

There are actually two reasons for this. First of all, we usually watch our movie Saturday night, but this Saturday I volunteered to babysit so the daughter and her hubby could go see Dr. Strange. But even after the their movie there would have been time to watch ours, except that they got a flat tire on the way home and, well, you know how it is.

And then there's also the fact I'm doing NaNo and I'm, uh, about 10,000 words behind. So I really need to buckle down and focus if I'm going to make it to the finish.

So unless I put on an enormous spurt of words over the weekend or something, you can pretty much count on there being no movie review posts for the rest of the month.

Sorry about that.


Nov 7, 2016

Megistotherm Monday

megistotherm ~ plant requiring very high temperatures

I have to tell you, week one of NaNoWriMo did not get off to an auspicious start. I did attend a write-in at a local restaurant on November 1 where I met some fellow writers and knocked off about 1400 words in 2 hours, and that was pretty much it for the bulk of the week.

Wednesday, after I got home from babysitting, my health took a turn for the worse. I don’t know if it was food poisoning or an really bad IBS attack, but I was really sick. Wednesday night was a total write-off, the hubby was lucky I was able to make him dinner.

Thursday and Friday I managed to babysit, but I have to admit that I was rescued by the Paw Patrol. For those who do not have access to small children, Paw Patrol is the animated adventures of a team of puppies in Adventure Bay to whom everyone turns to if they have a problem. “No job is too big, no pup is too small!” The grandbaby would quite happily watch it for hours, not that she’s allowed to. But she may have got a little extra TV time for those two days.

Excessive tiredness was part of whatever I had, so I also spent a lot of time napping, when I wasn’t babysitting. Saturday I was starting to feel a little better, but it wasn’t until Sunday that I started feeling like my old self.

I got a few words in for NaNo on Saturday, but by Sunday I was 8,000 words behind. So naturally I decided that would be the day I needed to clean out my closet.:-) To be fair, it’s a job I’d been putting off for a while now and it seriously needed to be done. And it also included cleaning out my dresser and reorganizing everything.

It’s been pointed out that I haven’t made a report on the progress of the bathroom renovation lately. That’s because there’s really not much to report. Hubby’s still filling and sanding to make the walls level (for want of a better word) so he can prime them and start putting the tile up.

In the meantime, he has two other projects on the go. One is the stand for the bathroom sink:



Okay, so it’s upside down and a little hard to judge from the picture, but trust me, it’s going to be really cool. Picture it right side up, with another shelf, and painted an as yet to be determined colour. LOL

And the other project, as I believe I’ve mentioned in previous posts, is a toy chest worthy of a pirate for the grandbaby. As you can see, it’s almost finished:



This week I’m hoping to at least start catching up on my NaNo words. Every day I fall 1667 words behind, so I need to write better than 2000 words a day to even keep my head above water. Will I reach the 50,000 word goal? Only time will tell.

Nov 2, 2016

Dracula

Some movies are so bad they’re good, and some movies are just ... bad. My husband and I enjoy watching them both and I thought it would be fun to share the best of the worst. So without further ado, here’s my bad movie review of the week. I leave it up to you to decide whether the movie is bad, or just the review. ;-)



I’ve seen many vampire movies, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen this particular version of Dracula. As with Frankenstein, my review may be coloured by the fact I’ve read the book. In fact, after reading the book I did a lot of research trying to figure out how the vampire went from being the loathsome creature depicted in the book to a romantic hero. I never did find a definitive answer, so in the end I abandoned my research. But I think Hollywood had a lot to do with it, although perhaps not with this particular film.

The movie begins with a carriage travelling along a mountain road. They’re in a hurry to reach the next village before nightfall because of the nosferatu. One of the passengers, a solicitor named Renfield, insists that he needs to keep going to Borgo Pass because he’s meeting another coach there. The villagers try to warn him about the danger, but of course he doesn’t listen, and the innkeeper’s wife gives him a cross to wear for protection.

As the sun sets we’re treated to a shot of inside the castle where rats and possums and insects all scurry for cover as a coffin begins to open. Out climbs a woman in a long, filmy dress. Dracula is seen just standing on the stairs and we get a close-up of his intense stare.

Renfield and his luggage are practically thrown from the coach when they reach the Borgo Pass, but Dracula’s coach is waiting for him. He continues his journey at breakneck speed and as they drive up a long, narrow mountain road we see a bat flying over the heads of the horses. When the coach stops, Renfield starts to scold the driver, then realizes the driver is gone.

The door to the castle opens by itself. For some reason there are a couple of armadillos wandering around, and three very cheesy looking bats hover by a stained glass window. Dracula glides down the long staircase to bid Renfield welcome and leads the way upstairs.

They discuss Dracula’s intention to lease Carfax Abbey in England. Renfield has brought the papers with him for Dracula to sign, and Dracula tells him he’s already booked passage on a ship. After pouring Renfield a glass of wine to have with his dinner, Dracula takes his leave. Needing some air, Renfield opens one of the French doors leading outside and then promptly faints. Dracula’s three wives are closing in on him when Dracula himself appears and shoos them away.

Next we cut to the ship that’s being tossed about by a storm at sea. When it reaches port, the only one still alive is Renfield, and he’s now batshit crazy (pun intended). He’s taken to a sanatorium run by Dr. Seward that just happens to be adjacent to Carfax Abbey.

It’s a foggy night in London and we seen Dracula strolling about. After draining a flower seller, he ends up at the symphony, were he ingratiates himself with Dr. Seward who introduces him to his daughter Mina, her friend Lucy, and Mina’s fiancé Jonathan. Lucy seems especially smitten with Dracula.

Late that night Dracula pays Lucy a visit and the next day we catch a glimpse of the operating theatre where Lucy is pronounced dead from blood loss. This is where we first see Van Helsing, who points out that there’s been several victims all dying of the same thing, and all with two small puncture wounds on their necks. He tells them they’re dealing with a nosferatu.

Meanwhile, at the sanatorium, Renfield begs Dr. Seward to send him away so he doesn’t “give Mina bad dreams” with his nightly cries. Van Helsing wants to help Renfield, but Renfield gets very upset when Van Helsing shows him some wolfsbane, which is known to ward off vampires. Van Helsing tells Dr. Seward to keep an eye on Renfield, especially at night.

That night, Dracula pays Mina a visit. The next morning she’s describing the dream she had about the mist to Jonathan and Van Helsing insists on looking at her neck. There are two marks on it, just like the others had.

When Dracula comes to pay a social call, Van Helsing glances at the mirror in the music box and Dracula has no reflection. He does this many, many times, just to make sure the audience gets the point, then shows it to Jonathan. Dr. Seward sends Mina off to bed and Van Helsing turns the music box so Dracula can see it. Dracula sweeps it from his grasp, then apologizes and leaves.

Van Helsing tells Dr. Seward and Jonathan that Dracula is the vampire they’re looking for. Meanwhile, Mina sneaks out to the garden where Dracula is waiting to bite her again. She’s found later by a maid. Then we hear a report of a woman in white luring children from a park and biting them. Mina believes it’s Lucy, who’s risen as a vampire.

Jonathan is all for taking Mina away, but Van Helsing convinces him that she’ll be safer under his protection. He hangs wolfsbane in her room and a wreath of it around her neck. The men discuss vampires and Van Helsing says they have to discover Dracula’s resting place if they are to save Mina.

Van Helsing is alone when Dracula comes in and tells him that Mina is his now and he should go back to his own country. Van Helsing in turn vows to destroy him. Dracula tries to mesmerize him but Van Helsing’s mind is too strong. He pulls out a crucifix and Dracula is scared off.

Later (or maybe it’s the next evening) Jonathan is sitting with Mina on the terrace and she’s telling him how much she loves the night. Dr. Seward and Van Helsing are off to the side discussing how best to help her. A bat flies overhead, squeaking, and the next thing you know, Mina is leaning into Jonathan trying to bite him. The other two men pull her off.

That evening Dracula hypnotizes the nurse looking after Mina and she takes down the wolfsbane and opens the window for him. He comes in and bites Mina (who’s already taken off the wolfsbane she was wearing).

Van Helsing and Jonathan follow Renfield to Carfax Abbey and then see Dracula there with Mina. They call out to her and Dracula, assuming Renfield has led them there, kills Renfield. By the time Van Helsing and Jonathan are able to break into the abbey, Dracula has carried Mina down to the crypt.

The sun is coming up and the men find Dracula in a box full of dirt. The other box holds nothing but dirt so while Van Helsing makes a wooden stake Jonathan goes looking for Mina. Though we don’t see Van Helsing actually stake Dracula, we do hear a lot of groaning. Mina is off standing in a corner and with Dracula’s death she regains her senses.

Van Helsing tells Jonathan and Mina to go ahead without him, he “has things to do.” They leave and that’s the end. Seriously, what is it about these 1930s movies and their abrupt endings? Hubby suggested that it was like Bela Lugosi died during the filming of it and they couldn’t finish it.

The underlying story in this film is rather choppy. After showing Dracula’s wives at the beginning, they’re never mentioned again. We have no idea who Renfield is when we first see him. We have no idea where Van Helsing came from or why he’s there . . . And we never find out what happened to Lucy or even if that really was her wandering around the park. And what the heck was with the armadillos wandering around Dracula’s castle?

The original Nosferatu, which closely followed the book, did so without permission. Stoker’s estate sued the filmmakers for copyright infringement and won their case. All the copies of the film were to be destroyed. However one copy survived and was duplicated over the years and was restored in 1996.

The producer of the 1931 version was wise enough to legally obtain the rights to adapt the book to film. It’s just too bad he didn’t stick closer to the true story.

Oct 31, 2016

Maschalephidrosis Monday

maschalephidrosis ~ massive sweating of the armpits

Continuing on the theme from last week of mother’s curses . . . The daughter had another convention she had to attend last week, so I put in some extra babysitting time. But unlike the previous week, this time I had the use of the daughter’s car, and more importantly, the car seat.

Wednesday was story time at the library and I figured it was the perfect opportunity to get out and be sociable. Unfortunately the woman in charge of the program was not very friendly and the kids were kind of standoffish. So afterwards we indulged in a little shopping therapy to make us feel better. :-)

Thursday we decided to give the drop-in playgroup at the YMCA a try and had a much better time.



The people running it were friendly and welcoming. There were just enough kids to make it interesting and an endless supply of toys. The grandbaby’s favourite was the playhouse in the picture. And the small, indoor slide. It may take some finagling with the car seat, but we’ll definitely be going back again.

In fact, there’s a Halloween party there today that we’re planning to attend. And yes, I’m dressing up too. If I can find my witch’s hat. Grandbaby, of course, will be wearing the Ewok costume her doting Grammy made her.



It’s not the best picture of the costume, but the smile says it all.

On the weekend I finally started catching up on my book reviews so I could log the books I’ve read into my Goodreads account. Fourteen down and six to go. I’ve been meaning to do this since July, and to keep better track. Like, update once a month or so.

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it here or not, but I’ve decided to do NaNo this year. NaNo, for those of you who are new, is short for NaNoWriMo - National Novel Writing Month. The idea is to write a 50,000 word novel during the 30 days of November.

This will be my tenth year, but my eighth win (if I complete the challenge). I did not win the very first year I did it - my story ran out at 30,000 words and try as I did, I just couldn’t make it any longer. And I didn’t do it last year, and really missed it. It just didn’t seem like November without those massive word counts.

To be perfectly honest, the writing hasn’t been going well lately. I haven’t been writing much of anything, other than blog posts. And yet I’m starting to feel pretty excited about NaNo. I’ve even ordered a NaNo tee-shirt online - this will be my third one, but I’ve already got the thermos, travel mug, hoodie, and USB bracelet.

There’s just something magical about NaNo, although you really can’t understand it unless you’ve tried it. But it’s so magical that I was even able to persuade three out of four friends (who’ve done it before) to join me.

Tomorrow night I’ll be attending a write-in being thrown by our official Municipal Liaisons and hopefully I’ll be meeting other like-minded writers. I may end up being a crazy person for the month, but it’ll be fun.

Trust me. :-D

Oct 26, 2016

The Wolf Man

Some movies are so bad they’re good, and some movies are just ... bad. My husband and I enjoy watching them both and I thought it would be fun to share the best of the worst. So without further ado, here’s my bad movie review of the week. I leave it up to you to decide whether the movie is bad, or just the review. ;-)



Even a man who is pure of heart
and says his prayers by night
may become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms
and the autumn moon is bright.


I have to admit, I wasn’t sure what I was getting into with this movie. While I hadn’t seen it before, I have seen The Werewolf of Washington, which was just plain stupid. So I was pleasantly surprised - I really enjoyed this movie.

There were a lot of big names in this one: Claude Rains, Lon Chaney Jr., Ralph Bellamy, Bela Lugosi. And as a refreshing change, we’re introduced to them all during the opening credits - a quick clip from the movie with a label to name them. It made it a lot easier to keep the characters straight.

The story begins with Larry Talbot (Lon Chaney), returning to the family estate after the death of his older brother during a hunting accident. In the grand scheme of things it doesn’t really matter why he’s been gone for 18 years or what he’s been doing, what matters is that his father, Sir John Talbot (Claude Rains), is happy to see him and wants them to be closer. To that end, Larry helps him finish building a telescope up in the new observatory.

The first thing Larry observes is the nearby village, specifically, a pretty girl primping in her room over a shop. Not wasting any time, he goes to the shop where she’s a clerk and asks to see some earrings, describing the ones on her dresser. That’s not creepy at all (said with sarcasm). He ends up buying a cane that’s topped with a silver wolf’s head and she recites the werewolf rhyme for him. He finally leaves, insisting that he’s coming back later to go for a walk with her, and a group of gypsies pass by on their way to set up camp.

Later the girl, named Gwen, waits outside the shop for him, wearing the earrings he liked. Joke’s on him because she has a girlfriend with her. They're going to the gypsies to have their fortunes told. The trio walk through the dark woods where the wolfbane is growing and Jenny (the friend) goes in first to have her fortune read by Bela (Bela Lugosi).

Larry and Gwen go for a walk in the fog and he admits to spying on her through the telescope. She’s not impressed (but not creeped out by it either), and tells him she’s engaged. Meanwhile, Bela is not happy about whatever he sees in the cards for Jenny. As he brushes his hair out of his eyes we see a pentagram mark on his forehead, and then we see the same mark on Jenny’s hand. He tells her to run away, and she does.

Outside of the wagon a black horse pulls at its tether. A wolf begins to howl. A woman screams.

Larry ditches Gwen to run to Jenny’s aid. She’s being savaged by a wolf and he starts beating on it with his walking stick. The wolf turns on him but he beats it off. Gwen arrives on the scene to find Larry barely conscious. An old gypsy woman from the camp - who just happens to be passing by with her horse and cart - helps Gwen get Larry home.

A group of men - including gamekeeper Frank (Gwen’s fiancé), Colonal Montford (an old friend of Larry’s who’s now the police chief), and Dr. Lloyd (a friend of his father’s) - find Jenny, her throat torn out, and nearby is Bela, whose head has been bashed in. Larry’s cane is found close at hand.

Next morning Larry wakes up in bed, a little confused and a whole lot frightened. His father, the Colonel, and the doctor pay him a visit. Larry identifies the walking stick as his, and tells them he used it to kill the wolf. But although the clothes he wore the night before are torn and bloody, there’s no sign of the wolf bite on him nor were they able to find the wolf. Larry is even more confused and frightened.

Gwen’s pretty upset over her friend’s death, and she’s in the backroom of her father’s store when Jenny’s mother enters with a few of her cronies and starts mouthing off. Enter Larry, who chases them off and tries to comfort Gwen. Enter Frank, Gwen’s fiancé, who doesn’t seem to like Larry much. Gee, I wonder why?

Now it’s later that evening and the gypsies are holding some kind of a carnival at their camp. Frank and Gwen are there having a good time. Larry’s there too, only not quite as happy as everyone else. There’s a lot of music and dancing and general merriment.

Larry crosses paths with the old gypsy woman who tells him that he killed the wolf and the wolf was her son Bela. She also tells him the wolf can only be killed by silver and “whoever is bitten by a werewolf and lives will become a werewolf themselves”. She gives him a pentagram charm to wear for protection.

Larry leaves, then the old woman comes out of her tent and whispers to another gypsy, who whispers to another, and whatever’s being said spreads like wildfire. Larry runs into Gwen, and tells her about the old woman and how she said he’s a werewolf now and gives her the charm.

Next thing you know, the gypsies are packing up and leaving. Gwen leaves on her own and Larry has a mini melt down. He thinks he’s becoming unhinged and doesn’t know what to believe. Back home he strips off his shirt and is relieved to see he’s not sprouting any extra hair. But then he takes off his shoes and we see his legs and feet are getting really hairy.

Now we have a completely transformed Larry wandering through the foggy grave yard. He attacks and kills the grave digger. Wolf howls wake up the villagers and some men go to the grave yard and find the man with his throat torn out.

Larry wakes up sprawled on his back across his bed. There’s a pentagram tattoo on his chest and he’s horrified when he sees the animal prints leading from the window to the bed. Clearly he’s having some kind of mental breakdown, which is why his father disregards his concerns about werewolves. Off they go to church together but Larry doesn’t stay. When he arrives home, his father and their friends are discussing the wolf problem. Larry insists it’s not just a wolf, it’s a werewolf.

That night, Larry (in werewolf form) is caught in one of the wolf traps. When he hears Frank and the other hunters he struggles until he passes out. The old gypsy woman finds him and he turns human again. Freeing himself from the trap, he wanders barefoot into the village to talk to Gwen. He tells her he’s going away, and even though he’s positive he’s the killer, she wants to go with him. As he holds her hand he sees the pentagram appear and he runs away.

He ends up back home where his father tells him he’s just suffering from mental stress, brought on by the gypsy woman and her fantastical stories. To prove it’s all in Larry’s head, he ties him to a chair while he goes to help with the wolf hunt. Larry begs him to take the silver headed cane with him and he does.

While the hunters lay in wait for the wolf, Sir John crosses paths with the gypsy woman. They’re arguing when they hear shots being fired. The hunters are positive the wolf was hit, but can’t find it. Gwen’s running through the woods looking for Larry and encounters the gypsy. Against the gypsy’s advice, she keeps looking.

Of course she runs right into the werewolf, who attacks her. Sir John is the first one to the rescue and hits the werewolf with the cane to get him away from Gwen. The monster then turns on him and he keeps beating it, in self defense. Then Sir John watches, horrified, as the gypsy woman speaks her blessing over the beast’s body and it transforms back into his son. She drives off in her cart and the others come running up.

The Colonel takes charge and it’s decided that the wolf attacked Gwen and Larry died defending her. Well done Larry.

At first I thought Lon Chaney’s portrayal of Larry was a little over the top, but actually, it helped show the mental breakdown of the character. You begin to wonder yourself if there really is a werewolf or if it’s all in his head. This movie really is a classic.

The only version of this movie I could find on YouTube is pretty dark, but if you can lighten up your screen this would be the perfect movie to watch while you’re passing out Halloween candy.