Archive for October, 2011|Monthly archive page

A Little Side Project

In Books, Girls of Canby Hall on October 30, 2011 at 7:33 pm

Most people who were pre-teen girls in the 1980s and ’90s were, I have found, rabid fans of the various Young Adult series that were out at the time: mainly The Baby-Sitters Club and Sweet Valley High. I was absolutely obsessed with the BSC, so much so that I could probably still tell you the vital statistics of all the members of the club. I was less into SVH, but still read the vast majority of the books in that series before I was old enough to know better (which is later for some people than others. For me? College.) There were a lot of other lesser-known teen series and authors I enjoyed, though: The Stepsisters, Candice F. Ransom, Lurlene McDaniel, the list goes on. My number one favourite series, though, was The Girls of Canby Hall. This series always seemed to be overshadowed by the far more well-known BSC and SVH in terms of popularity. Even when the Canby Hall books were still being published, I didn’t know anyone else in my school who read them. My awesome Grade 2 teacher, Mrs. Beck (who I have failed at finding on Google many times over the years) doubled as our school librarian and used to authorize me to leave class and go see her in the library whenever they got a new Canby Hall book in so I could check it out first. (Although jumping to the head of a line of one was hardly something to get a swelled head about.) Like I said, she was da shizzle.

I'm not sure Mrs. Beck would be all that proud.

Recently I have found that I am not alone. There is a whole group of women my age out there recapping their old teen novel favourites, and it is hilarious. I was first turned on to this phenomenon by this Washington Post article about a number of modern-day women writing Baby-Sitters Club blogs. I personally really love re-reading my old teen novels, both for the nostalgia factor and to make snarky internal comments about how ridiculously cheesy and untrue-to-life they are. No “good” character ever does anything “bad,” and vice versa. It’s preposterous, but I have to admit that their sense of moral innocence is part of their charm. These days, when I go into a Barnes & Noble and flip through a book in the YA section, I’m taken aback by how dark and R-rated they all seem to be, as if promiscuity and drug use are just accepted to be de rigueur for teens today. There’s something to be said for bringing back the campy series of our youth.

So … I’m going to start this little project I’ve had in the back of my mind for ages, and, just for fun, do a thorough series recap of my beloved Girls of Canby Hall, seen through the eyes of an (ostensible) adult. 35 entries, one for each book. If I was not alone and any of you out there also read these books, share your memories with me! Dana, Faith, Shelley, Toby, Andy and Jane … we’re dragging you into the 2000s. See you back here soon for the recap of the one that started it all, book #1.


Hunt for Fed October

In Baby Howie, Canada, Food, Peanut on October 27, 2011 at 7:49 pm

It’s my favourite month of the year, friends. (I know, and it’s the 27th day of that month, but let’s put those blinders on.) I’ve always loved October. It’s the month most closely associated with my favourite season, autumn, and I can never think of October without thinking of brilliantly-coloured leaves flaming forth from trees and blanketing the earth. The air is crisp and cool, with the muggy hair-ruining days of summer behind us and the snow-shoveling days of winter still a safe distance ahead of us. It’s the time of year when it’s not only acceptable to start thinking of ways to combine pumpkin and chocolate, it’s unacceptable not to. For some reason, October always makes me think of home.

I’m unreasonably nostalgic about everything. Because my family moved from Canada to the U.S. when I was 17, and I fought it the whole way, Canada and my entire childhood have taken on a utopian tinge in my feverish mind. Although we moved several times within Canada too, the house where I lived from the ages of 7 to 17 is unquestionably home for me. On nearly every trip back we have parked outside that house and sat in the car just looking, and no doubt attracting the suspicion of local authorities. I don’t know if I’ll ever have the nerve to knock on the door one day and ask to see the inside again; probably not. And maybe it’s better to remember it the way it was, and not see it filled with other people’s mismatched bedroom furniture. (I want my old mismatched furniture!) But anyway, back in the day, behind our house was a creek and a forest. The forest has long since been cut down and a townhouse development has been built in its place, but when I was a kid there was something so poetic about that view. It was something so romantic in the Anne of Green Gables-sense of the word, where romance doesn’t connote a relationship between lovers but a sense of being in the presence of something large and mystical. So often the weather in October would be cold, grey and rainy, and it was so cozy to come in from that weather to our warm house, an afterschool snack (ah, Jos Louis), a good book, and that view.

October is also home to my favourite holiday, Halloween. I was obsessed with Halloween when I was little. My Halloween costume-planning began sometime soon after Labour Day. I was able to come up with marginally original ideas, but alas I am no artistic genius, and thus the execution of said costumes usually left something to be desired. Among other things, I was a blob of paint, a bunch of grapes, the aforementioned-Anne of Green Gables, and a bag of trash. My cousin Ronnie, after moving to the area, often got roped into these shenanigans. Along with Baby Howie, the three of us would doll ourselves up, then go trick-or-treating for hours around the neighbourhood, occasionally making pit stops at home to empty our pillowcases and make room for more loot, and eventually come home to settle in for the next phase of the night: sorting through our bounty and trading with each other for the best stuff. We had a very elaborate value system assigned to each type of candy. I don’t remember much about it except that Coffee Crisps were at the top of the pyramid, with one of those babies being worth about 42 of anything else, and any item that could be even remotely construed as having some health value (raisins, I’m looking at you) being used as hamster cage lining. We did this until I was sixteen. That fact doesn’t even embarrass me.

An ACTUAL bag of trash may have been more appealing.

This year will be the first year that I am the parent of a trick-or-treater on Halloween. The Peanut is two, so still not really old enough to understand what’s going to happen next week, although she knows she’s going to be a lion and is taking every opportunity to practice her roar. Because, as previously mentioned, I am not all that crafty, I can’t rely on myself to make any halfway decent costume, so I have to go with what’s in the stores. But I am going to enjoy this time while I have it, these years when I am still bigger than P and can wrestle her into the ensemble of my choosing. And I’m probably not going to feel very guilty about it.

Exhibit A.

Through my extensive research, I have also learned that October is National Pork Month as well as 3D Ultrasound Awareness Month. So there you have it. 31 days is hardly long enough to cram in all these celebrations, especially if you’re getting a late start like me. Only 4 more days to find some bacon and an ultrasound technician. And to stuff myself with candy. I’ll keep you posted.