allison wonderland

"But I don't want to go among mad people," Alice remarked. "Oh, you can't help that," said the Cat: "we're all mad here. I'm mad. You're mad."
"How do you know I'm mad?" said Alice. "You must be," said the Cat, "or you wouldn't have come here."

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Location: Ontario, Canada

Saturday, November 05, 2011

NaNo Fail

Yeah, I really meant to, but then I forgot.

But I still want to make a conscious effort to blog this month. Scalzi inspired for about 10 minutes with his Thanksgiving theme, but since I am in Canada, that doesn't really work. Maybe next October...

In the meantime, I feel like I should be writing something because the house is quiet and about half of my chores for the day are done, but I can't seem to make the words come today. So, instead, I am going to recommend someone who is absolutely brilliant with words.

If you are a fantasy fan, you really need to check out N.K. Jemison's Inheritance Trilogy. This is the first book in the series; the 3rd one just came out.

You can thank me later.

Monday, October 31, 2011

It's Halloween!!

And for the first time, our house is totally decked out. Such is the influence of the toddler...

and the scary sheltie and the stealthy dachshund.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Mi Vida Loca

To say that the last two months have been busy would be an understatement of epic proportions! Jam-packed, hectic, life-altering and exhausting might come close, but let’s recap, shall we?

At some point during the summer, Grant and I decided to start looking for a cottage. For those of you who don’t live in Ontario or Canada, this is a particular objective of great many Canadians: to have a weekend retreat, preferably on a body of water somewhere, where friends and family can bbq, swim and play euchre until the wee hours of the morning. And drink beer. So, we discovered that, if we worked our finances carefully, we just might be able to achieve that objective.

We looked casually most of the summer and in August decided to take a weekend and go do some serious looking. We found a cottage in an area called the Kawarthas, near the town of Fenelon Falls, on a river. It was just about a perfect as it could be without costing us an arm and a leg. So we bought it with a 15 day closing, just in time for Labour Day.

Closing a house in 15 days is a challenge. Closing a cottage in that amount of time is insane. Luckily, I was still on summer holiday, so we managed to keep up with all the details (water tests, inspections, insurance, etc.), but it was crazy intense. And to cap it all off, Grant decided to invite all the kids up to our new cottage for the long weekend when we were closing 3 days before.

But it all got done and we moved in (another long story featuring packing up the boat, moving furniture and boxes from two places, and much heavy lifting). Our first weekend was amazing; great weather, friendly neighbours, happy family. Then over the next weekends we started fixing stuff up. Roof: check. Trees removed: check. New flooring: check. Moisture barrier under the foundation: check. New toilet and vanity: check. We bought new stuff: a generator, a bed, a lawn edger. We worked our asses off for several weekends. We are still finishing up all the winterizing tasks, as well as finishing touches for the flooring and bathroom, but we are almost done. We are ridiculously poor, but our cottage is pretty.

In the meantime, school started back up and Grant went back to work. Our schedules booked up solidly, as they do this time of year. But the cottage work and the career work wasn’t enough for this family, oh noes!! We needed a bit more excitement in our lives, so we invited our oldest son, his wife, our 21 month old granddaughter and their miniature dachshund to come live with us while they make the transition from B.C. back to Ontario.

Yes, our house is crowded. Yes, we love seeing our granddaughter every day. (And our kids are pretty great too!) Yes, the dogs are getting along beautifully (although there is a bit too much barking going on…). But, it is a big change and even when it’s a good thing, it still requires some adjustment for everyone.

In that way, the cottage is a blessing. This weekend, the kids and grandbaby went up. They did a bunch of winterizing chores that Grant and I won’t have a chance to get done, and had some time to themselves. Grant and I had a quiet weekend while I got a lot of chores done here. Grant spent the weekend recuperating, because did I mention he had a total knee replacement?

Yeah, that happened too. See I told you it was a crazy time!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Kindle-ing an enduring love

A little less than 2 years ago, I got a Kindle. I loved it with all the urgency of a new passion, so I was really sad when, only a few months later, my Kindle's battery refused to charge and I could not read the gazillion books I had downloaded. So I called the Kindle folks at and they replaced my defective Kindle in about two days with a brand spanking new one already filled with all my books! Yay, Team Amazon!

Fast forward to last night. I am readying myself for a bath and looking forward to good long soak and a continuation of the Zombie/Presidential Campaign novel I am reading. But...but...the screen on my Kindle has gone all womlu and despite my attempts to troubleshoot, it appears to be toast. Sadly, I called the Kindle people again, credit card nearby so I could buy a new Kindle. I fully expected to have to buy a new one, because...well, two years usually means no more warranty, right? So you can imagine my surprise and delight when my support person, Catherine, tells me that she will send me a new Kindle right away!! I know, right? How awesome is that??

On reflection, this make so much sense. I am an excellent customer for Kindle and Amazon, having bought 54 books* over the last two years at what is undoubtably a terrific profit margin. Sending me a new one at no charge make me love them even more. I don't know how other e-readers would handle this situation, but Kindle has made me a customer for life!

And the moral of this story? Always make sure you have a real book on hand for when the Kindle goes kaput.

* I know, I know, not exactly a gazillion...


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

So far, not so good

2011 is really not shaping up to be the best year of my life. It started out with my heart deciding to do wonky things, then it segued into my mother having a stroke. Yes, she had a stroke, luckily surviving, and aside from letting work people know, I basically didn't share that news with anyone. Sorry. Anyway, I spent a week in the Bay Area in March ferrying my dad from home to the rehabilitation facility an hour away. Then we got Mom settled in respite care, until my sister and I could figure out what was what.

Mom is recovering, slowly and most likely not completely. It became clear fairly quickly that there were going to have to be some major changes. My sister managed to find a townhome in Alameda and somehow convinced my parents to go to an open house. My mom loved it and insisted that it be hers. My dad, reluctantly, put in an offer and it was accepted. So, we are going to pack up the 2 story, 4 bedroom house they have lived in for the last 40 years, and move what will fit over to Alameda. Not likely to be fun. For anyone.

So, I am leaving on July 4 for two weeks in the Bay Area. I am hoping to see some friends while there, but mainly I will be trying to take some pressure off of my poor sister and help out my dad. Mom...well, Mom is Mom and something like this does not bring out the best in her. *sigh*

Yep. Throwing myself a pity party. Did I mention that a couple I really love are having serious marriage difficulties and that another close friend's 11 year old daughter was recently diagnosed with cancer? 2011 - you really suck.


Sunday, April 03, 2011


A good day, cooking-wise. I thought I might record my efforts, just in case anyone wants to try some tasty food.

Applesauce with cranberries

So titled because if you search apple-cranberry sauce, you will just get cranberry sauce with apple, when what you really want is, well, applesauce with cranberries.

7-8 apples, cored, peeled and sliced. (I used 3 golden delicious and 4 ambrosia. These were excellent choices!)
1-2 cups of fresh cranberries, washed and stems removed
3/4 cup water
Cinnamon or allspice

Put apples and cranberries in a large pot and add water. Bring to a boil and then reduce to simmer for about a 1/2 hour until fruit can be easily crushed.

Use a potato masher to mash fruit together. I suspect a hand blender would work well, but sadly, I do not have one of those.

Add about 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon. Allspice is another option.

Add honey to taste. Or lemon if the sauce is too sweet.


Penne with kale, peppers, onions, mushrooms and feta

1 package whole wheat penne
1 bunch kale, torn into small pieces
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
1/2 large red onion, chopped
1/2 lb mushrooms
2-3 cloves garlic, diced
4 oz feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 tsp Oregano
1/2 tsp Basil
Red pepper flakes to taste
Olive oil

Put water in large pot and bring to a boil. Once water is boiling, add teaspoon of salt.
Remove kale from stems and tear into small pieces. Set aside.
Saute peppers and onions in olive oil. After they begin to brown, add mushrooms and more oil if needed. Add spices. Saute until mushrooms are soft.
Put penne and kale in boiling water for 10 minutes. When done, drain and return to pot.
Add vegetables and crumbled feta. Add more olive oil if needed. Toss. Add salt and pepper to taste. Note: I keep my feta in brine, so I did not add salt.

Serves 4 (unless you're Grant and me, then it serves 2 with one leftover!)


Friday, March 04, 2011


I am leaving on holiday soon, to a tropical vacation that will involve much hammocking and lounging and, oh yeah, air travel- so I require many books prior to embarking on this journey. As many of you know, I am a most happy member of the Kindle e-book family and have assembled an excellent list of books that I can buy on said Kindle. But I have a problem...sometimes I really like "real" books.

I have some Sookie Stackhouse novels on the list, but since I already have the first 8 in paperback, changing my collection to e-book will leave those books so lonely on the shelf. I want to read the Giller award winning The Sentimentalists, but if I order the e-book, I will miss out on the apparently exquisite hardcover edition. I almost always prefer children's lit in hardcover, because publishing houses usually take a special effort to make them attractive; plus illustrations rarely come through well on the Kindle. So The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate will just have to wait.

And so on and so forth.

I will order some books before I leave, because, honestly, the whole point of the Kindle is not having to haul 10 or more books along with me when I vacation. But I suspect that some of the books might end up being picked up non-electronically in the future.

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