"There is no more lovely, friendly and charming relationship, communion or company than a good marriage."
--Martin Luther

Friday, 25 October 2013

Obvious Etiquette 101

This is a public service announcement.  Up until recently, I had figured that women were immune from a certain type of faux-pas.  I mean, some men are clueless and get a pass, but surely a woman knows not to ask another woman if she's pregnant, right? 

Wrong!  I witnessed this etiquette mishap last week while I was at work.  A young lady who is recently married was in the lobby, when another woman recognized her.  I watched it all go wrong quickly:  "Oh so-and-so, it's been so long!  Congrats on your wedding last summer!  Ooh, and it looks like you're expecting too, how nice!"  I wanted to cut in, pull the fire alarm, knock over a fast or something just to stop this from happening, but unfortunately, said woman had to explain that actually, she's just gained a little weight since the wedding.  I felt awful just watching this transpire.

Early this week, the same thing happened to me.  A woman asked whether I had big news.  I said no, and she, with a knowing glance, responded: "Well, it looks like you may have put on a little weight..."  And then I started crying.  Yes, it was possibly an over-reaction, but I'm sensitive about this kind of thing and being told I'm getting fat is really not the way I like to start my work day.

We shouldn't need reasons for this, but just in case you're wondering why this isn't okay, here are a couple:

1)  Women don't like being told they look fatter than before.  Even if they are fatter.  Even if they're pregnant.  Just don't do it.
2)  A woman is generally thrilled when it's time to announce a pregnancy.  If she felt like it was the right time, she'd tell you.  Since she hasn't, assume that if she is actually pregnant, she'll tell you when she feels like it, not before.  (See also Jayme's excellent post here.)
3)  Fertility issues are very sensitive to many people.  If a woman is having trouble conceiving, asking her if she is pregnant will both make her feel fat AND remind her that she's having trouble.

Bottom line:  If you see a woman, think she's expecting, and have a desire to point it out, JUST SAY NO.  :-)

Wednesday, 23 October 2013


It's crazy to believe it, but it's been two whole years since we walked down the aisle.  Yesterday, Gil and I celebrated our second wedding anniversary, so we're officially no longer newlyweds. 

I actually find anniversaries kind of sad.  The morbid part of me thinks that we're counting up from our wedding, but also with every year, we diminish the number of years we have left.  Still, it's nice to look back and remember a great day while celebrating the fact that we've made it so far.

Going to the Chapel...

The funny thing about weddings, is that so much time goes into preparing for them, and then they're over so quickly.  I barely remember anything on that day, not the speeches, not what people were wearing, and not even what I was thinking while waiting to say my vows.  (I think it was somewhere along the lines of, "Wow, we're really doing this."

Year 2 was good year overall, less eventful than Year 1 (thankfully we didn't have to move at all), and I think we really settled into this life together.  I have nothing but high hopes for the coming year.

Here's to you, Gil!

PS  In case you are wondering, my husband is very hesitant about photos of himself going on the Internet.  I can put some on Facebook, but as this is an open blog, I avoid anything with his face, hence all the back- and hand-shots of him.  :-)

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Best Books I was "Forced" to Read

October sure is flying by, and it's another Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  This week's topic is "Top Ten Books I Was Forced to Read", either by school, a friend, book club, etc.  Here's my list:

1.  One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey:  We read this in English class in high school and I found it fascinating. 

2.  To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee:  Another one from school.  This is one of the most beloved novels around, so it's no surprise that it made my list.

3.  The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas:  I actually read this for a history class in high school, but found it an exciting and entertaining read. 

4.  Fathers and Sons by Ivan Turgenev:  Read in a Russian History class in university.  I love Turgenev.  I also love it when teachers and profs assign fiction to give a glimpse into the time period and mindset. 

5.  A People's Tragedy by Orlando Figes:  This is a non-fiction look at the Russian Revolution.  I have a few issues with it, but it's an illustration of how history books can be made readable and engaging.

6.  The Best Laid Plans by Terry Fallis:  My mom lent me this book out of the blue, saying it was hilarious.  To my surprise, it was fantastic and I've to the sequel on my TBR list.

7.  The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins:  Okay, no one forced me to read it, but we were on a road trip and I was in the back seat with my friend's copy of THG.  I was picked it up because I was bored, and suddenly I'd read 50 pages and was hooked.

8.  Half the Sky by Nicolas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn:  My friend bought me this book for Christmas, so I felt obliged to read it, though was worried it would just be depressing.  It certainly has its sad parts, but also tells stories of hope and encourages readers to make a difference.

9.  State of Wonder by Ann Patchett:  We read this in my book club and I wasn't really looking forward to it.  I ended up being drawn into the strange story and really enjoying the read.

Monday, 7 October 2013

Medical Mondays: Sometimes There Is No "We"

It's the first Monday of October (already?) and that means it's Medical Monday, hosted this month by Jane at From a Doctor's Wife, Emma at Your Doctor's Wife, and Lisa at Life of Ray Doc's Life.  This time I'm posting about home maintenance as a medical spouse.  It's meant to be taken lightly, and not as a criticism of my very busy husband.

Last weekend, while I was in the throes of gardening, I suddenly thought to myself that home ownership is like a gateway drug. You think it will satisfy you, but it ends up bring more work and stress than you anticipated. For example, about 18 months ago, we were so excited to move into our brand new house. After spending most of adulthood in apartments, dorms, and condos, it was thrilling to have a whole house to ourselves. No more listening to the upstairs neighbour's chihuahua barking or opening three or four doors before being home.  We had space!  We had freedom!

We moved in and it was bliss. Well, that is until we realised that our house had a lawn. Of course, we knew that before, but apparently you need to mow a lawn regularly or it looks terrible and you start finding maintenance flyers stuck in your door on a daily basis. We also discovered that we had no idea how to operate the mower we had bought from the previous owners. Thankfully, my husband's colleague recommended a good lawn service, and we breathed a sign of relief.

This year, Gil had the wonderful suggestion that we should start a garden. He was really excited about this project that we would undertake, but it turns out that by “we”, that meant that he borrowed some books from his secretary and I did all the purchasing, digging, planting, and minimal harvesting. For hours of labour, we seem to have exacted several handfuls of cherry tomatoes and three small onions. Still, I was excited at this new venture and despite the lacklustre results, I'm happy that “we” tried it out.

As soon as the garden was started, Gil decided we needed to begin composting. Luckily, our city provides composters at only a minimal delivery cost. Of course, I postponed ordering one until late summer and it wasn't delivered until two weeks later, but now we can finally get started and will hopefully have great soil for next year's garden.  It turns out, however, that composting is actual work.  You don't just put it on your lawn and dump items into it.  Instead, you need to mix the compost material with leaves, twigs, and plants.  In short, to set up the composted we needed to spend considerable time raking and weeding to get enough for the base of the compost.  And by "we", I mean "me", because Gil was once again at the hospital on a Saturday.

Then something strange happened. Apples emerged on the lovely tree in our yard which last year produced lovely blossoms but no fruit. It would have been wonderful, except that we didn't realise how quickly the apples would ripen and by the time I got around to buying a “fruit-picker”, most of the apples had fallen and begun rotting on our lawn. This is why I found myself on a lovely fall Saturday bending over to pick up rotten apples and deposit them into our brand new composter. To make matters worse, many of the rotting apples were covered in bees. [Gil's comment:  "That's great!  We need to maintain a healthy bee population in the neighbourhood!"]

All this to say: We love our house, but be careful what you wish for. And now I've learned that whenever my doctor husband says “we” should start a project, it probably means I'll be doing most of it!

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Rediscovering My Inner Music Geek

I have a confession:  I love musical theatre.  When I was a kid, my dad would take me to a show at least once a year.  We saw Cats, The Secret Garden, Showboat, and several other shows.  I was full-on obsessed with Phantom of the Opera and Les Mis for several years.  I played the saxophone in band and went to music camp.  In fact, I even joined the marching band in university and played in parades all through the Christmas season.  Yes, I was that girl.

As an adult, though, music ceased to be a hobby any more.  Without a band to play with, I rarely picked up my saxophone, and going to the theatre was too expensive to do regularly.  I didn't even realize how much I missed it except in rare moments when I would hear a show tune and immediately break into chorus.

Recently, however, it seems I've re-discovered my inner music geek.  In August, Gil surprised me with tickets to The Wizard of Oz as an early birthday present.  There was even a real live dog playing Toto!  Then I went to New York City to meet up with friends and we ended up getting half-price tickets to Rock of Ages.  For my birthday last month, my sister-in-law promised to take me to see Les Mis (yes, it's BACK!) and my mom bought opera tickets for the two of us.

As my musical theatre interests have re-emerged, so has my appreciation for classical music.  I've found myself listening to the classical station while driving, which seems to calm my frustration with slower or less cautious drivers.  :-)  On the flip side, I'm starting to feel much older than 33 as this radio station features product spots for Viagra, constipation relief, and nursing homes.

All this to say, I'm enjoying how the move back home has awakened interests that I'd forgotten.  So readers, are you theatre geeks too?  What's your favourite musical?

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Top Ten Tuesdays: Things that Tempt Me to Stop Reading

Well, it's another Tuesday, so it's time for another Top Ten list.  Today's topic, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, is book turn-offs.  We talked previously about things which make us not want to pick up a book, but this week we're discussing things that annoy us or make us consider shutting the book rather than continuing on.  Here are some of mine:

1.  Cheating:  I can't root for a character who is unfaithful to their partner.  This also applies to most love triangles (since it's hard to be in love with two people without cheating on one or both of them).

2.  Lack of consequences:  Of course, not every teenage girl who has sex gets AIDS, and not everyone who tries drugs will die a horrible death.  Still, certain lifestyles have consequences, and it irks me to no end when characters (especially teenagers) take dangerous risks but nothing negative results from them.  (This rant brought to you by the time I flipped through some Gossip Girl novels at my old job.)

3.  Improbable knowledge:  This especially bugs me with teenage characters.  Even a precocious character should be given a level of knowledge that is realistic.  There was a scene in a Robert Sawyer novel in which two 15-year-olds discussed why Tim Hortons restaurants don't have an apostrophe in the name.  Seriously, what kind of teens know/care about this?

4.  Unnecessary/graphic sex scenes:  There are ways to portray intimacy that don't read like a Harlequin romance novel.  I try to avoid books that are full of sex scenes, so it annoys me when a graphic one shows up out of nowhere.

5.  Bad grammar or bad writing:  This is what editors are for.  Use them.

6.  Weird/improbable names:  Okay, so I'm a name nerd, but it bugs me when the characters are all 25 and older, but have names that are popular right now.  One outlier is fine, but if a group of characters my age are named Isabella, Mason, Jackson, and Addison, I'll be tempted to throw the book across the room.  A good author will do research on names from the period to make the book seem authentic.  I also have only so much patience with weird names in fantasy.

7.   Last names/first names:  This is kind of weird and it's mostly found in thrillers, but it really bugs me when all the male characters are referred to by surnames, while women are referred to by their first names.  This irked me so much reading The DaVinci Code.

8.  Overly detailed or technical (to a point):  This phenomenon was epitomized by Stieg Larsson.  Thrilling series of books, but no one cares about the details of Lisbeth's computer.  It also applies to clothing/brand names.  I understand dropping brand names to show the character is wealthy, but I don't need to know every detail of their ensemble.

9.  Unhealthy relationships:  I can handle this if the author is obviously trying to show that the relationship is unhealthy.  I can't do unhealthy relationships that are romanticized.  (I'm looking at you, Twilight.) 

10.  Unlikeable characters:  I have to like someone in the book to get into it.  This is why I almost didn't finish Vanity Fair.  I couldn't really stand anyone, with the slight exception of Dobbin.