Monthly Archives: December 2003

Seasonal Skewing

As last night was the official longest night of the year, we lit our candle in our wind lantern and set it on the dresser in my room, and fell asleep.

My husband woke me up at some unearthly hour in the night from a dream that was a vivid cross between Harry Potter and the Lord of the Rings.

“We have to put the candle out,” he said. “The smoke detector in the room is giving off beeps.”

Without waking up completely, I pinched out the flame, tried to open the window, couldn’t, mumbled at my husband to do it, and sat in bed while he opened it.

“Better to open the outside window too instead of hoping the cross-draft does it,” I said.

“Er,” he said, “this is the outside window. See? Screen.” He pushed his hand against the window and lo and behold, it was screening bending beneath his fingers, and not glass.

“It’s not cold enough,” I said stupidly.

“Welcome to Canada’s banana belt,” he said. “Want to sleep with the window open?”

So we did.

It was just strange.

On Going Home

There’s something odd about going home for the holiday season as an adult. Sure, my parents now live in a different province, in a house that features in absolutely zero of my childhood memories, but there’s more to it. My parents seem to look forward to having us here, but sometimes I wonder why. I arrive with laundry to do, change their radio stations, have classical music on all the time, and light candles. I either sleep at odd times, or hide in a corner with a book, or go out to roam Oakville (they have a remarkable invention here called parking lots, making shopping a much less harrowing experience).

I look forward to coming here. There’s something terribly comforting about having familiar meals served to you by your mother. Sometimes they’re new meals instead, which I look forward to discovering just as much because my mother is a fabulous cook. Last night we had slow-cooked lamb shanks with polenta, which was divine. Some things are best left to discovering as an adult. Had my mother served me polenta as a child, I would have pushed it around my plate until it got stone cold and even less appealing, tasted a speck and decided it was too much like oatmeal, which I hated. (I’m still not fond of oatmeal; it’s something about the texture. Thin or thick, I just really have to be in the mood, and it needs plenty of salt.)

For the second year in a row, my parents haven’t put up the Christmas tree; they put white fairy lights on their six-foot-tall silk fig in the corner and gather gifts underneath it instead. I don’t have any seasonal decorations up at home, either, which might have contributed to my lack of holiday cheer. Christmas seems to have arrived awfully quickly, something like all that snow at home.

The drive down was a breeze. The three feet of snow that the Montreal city crews are ignoring gradually vanished as we drove west, disappearing completely by a half-hour past Cornwall. I’ve been going about in my cardigan over a t-shirt outside here. Last night I woke up to the sound of rain hitting the roof and the window. I had forgotten how much I love that sound.

Tonight after dinner we have a date with some popcorn and The Return of the King; tomorrow we pick up our borrowed printer and do the official seasonal dinner and the ritual opening of gifts. For the rest of this afternoon, though, I think it’s going to be dozing with a book and perhaps a Maine Coone cat.


So sleepy. I have no idea why I’m so tired when I spent most of my weekend just sitting waiting for things to happen. I got to work half an hour early for teaching yesterday, and my first class ended up being cancelled; I sat reading in the office for four hours until my second class rolled around. Then I got to work today (an hour and five minutes before I had to be) to unlock the doors, only to discover that the store was already open, and had been for two hours. No one had told me we were opening at ten AM instead of the usual 12 noon. Slightly frustrating; all the more so because if I had been asked, I would definitely had said that I wouldn’t be able to open at ten AM seeing as how I didn’t have to be there until my students gathered for their Solstice events at one PM this afternoon. Usually my class starts at noon, and I arrive a few minutes ahead of time in order to unlock the store for the girls who are working on the floor, which is fine. Today was just crossed wires, which is frustrating enough on its own.

Ah well. It just means I had a really unhurried two days of doing nothing. Which, I suppose, was slightly frustrating in and of itself, since I’ve been anti-social all weekend, desiring nothing more than to hide under the covers of my very warm bed.

We’re now on our way to Toronto for four days of seasonal quality family time. Yay us!

A Merry Solstice to you. May you all see the light at the end of the longest, darkest night of all.

Plans Foiled

Argh. I’m just pulling my hair out today. What was supposed to be a nice quiet day reading through a new 500 page spa book for fun turned into a surprise rush editing job from my publisher that’s just hit seven hours and still no end in sight.

I’ve resorted to taking Vivaldi out of my CD player and inserting Evanescence, turning up the volume, and pouring a large glass of wine to keep me going. My next break will involve creating a business card that says something along the lines of:

Autumn’s Editing Services:
Making People Sound Better Than They Are

Seriously. My confidence in my own writing abilities is skyrocketing. Copy- and content-editors everywhere will weep with joy when presented with my work, because not only do I know what I’m talking about, I know how to say it.

Back to the drawing board.

Ego Boost

If ever I needed assurance that I can write a book, the experience of editing professional authors’ work is convincing me of it. Ye gods.

And I think my cats did some odd sort of “change the rain into snow” spell. Two of them fell behind one of my short bookcases this afternoon, at different times. I am convinced that it was no accident, but arcane action of some nature.


Actually, now that I stub my toe on it, there was one fly in the weekend’s ointment: my beloved toy-like sewing machine is dead. I discovered this while crafting (I love double meanings!) the finishing touches of last night’s Yule gift for my coven-sister. This sweet little machine had two speeds, Bunny and Turtle (I kid you not, those are the icons), and has been my trusty companion through Star Trek outfits, several Renaissance faires, ritual robes, Hallowe’en costumes, curtains, skirts, dresses, coats and cloaks for eight years now. It was a gift from my parents, and I don’t know how long any of us truly expected it to last, being such lightweight plastic.

I have a couple of options: I can take it into a repair shop and pay goodness knows how much for an evaluation and/or repair, or I can think about a new sewing machine. A grown-up one. Ceri and I were talking about this when she was doing the research to invest in her own machine a couple of years ago. I ought to be responsible and take my sweet little toy in to at least be looked at. I owe it at least that much after mercilessly subjecting it to heavy tapestry fabrics and thick wool that were all theoretically too much for it to handle. With whispered words of encouragement, the occasional prayer and the even rarer swift kick or hard knock, it got the job done, though, no matter what I asked of it.

Until last night, that is. Last night’s project was completed entirely by hand, with the help of a curved needle (why haven’t I ever used one of these before?), a glue gun, and a passle of cats who were very interested in the feathers I was using.


Naturally, as my sewing machine is down for the count, I desperately want to sew again. Let’s hear it for human nature.

Go Me

I’ve had an excellent weekend all around: teaching, gathering with friends, ritual, and so forth. Artistically I have triumphed, but you’ll hear about all of that when I have visual proof for you. Not only have I triumphed, I’ve indirectly created the potential for future fun gifts, which is just fine with me.

And, as the cherry on top of the whole weekend, I have a gently used laserjet printer waiting for me in Oakville. Hurrah!