February 2009


our lovely little cabin in the woods.

our lovely little cabin in the woods.

Beep-be-be-beep. Beep-be-be-beep… The alarm clock drags me out of the depths of some weird dream. It’s still dark and I’m convinced I’m still asleep. Hours later I wake again as the thin winter sun creeps in the window. It’s almost noon. The fire in the stove has gone out. My nose is cold. I don’t have any particular place to be. I need to pee. I stay in bed another half-hour, but finally biology wins.

Emerging from my cozy nest the floor is cold, my clothes a are cold. I can’t find my socks. Outside the cold takes my breath away. I run the dozen steps to the outhouse, kicking up snow, which inevitably finds its way to the bare toes inside my Sorels. On the way back I grab an arm full of kindling. The whole operation has taken less than a minute, but I’m chilled to the bone.

Start the kettle. Open the stove. Familiar sounds: metal strikes flint.. lighter ignites old newsprint with a low whump.. hiss and crackle of flame evaporating water.. Soon the fire takes. I leave the door wide open and stick my hands inside to soak up the warmth.

Headlines melt. Byines char. The car crash burns again. Sometimes I pause to read an article I’ve missed, to look at a photo, before crumpling the paper. My fire fueled by my trade. I drink my tea close to the stove and feel guilty for sleeping late again. Guilty for being a wimp (it’s only -35). Guilty for not being more self-disciplined as a writer. Cabin fever is really setting in. I haven’t felt the sun in days. Finally warm, I head out for a ski down the old train tracks. It does some good and clears my head. Back at the cabin I squeeze in a few hours of productive work before it’s dark again, then spend the evening watching movies and knitting.

That was December. Now the days are getting longer I’m feeling surprisingly refreshed and hungry to take on the world again.

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the lowly shellfish

the lowly shellfish

More than three decades have passed since Douglas Adams penned the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I’m still waiting for my babelfish ear piece.

I’m trying to learn Japanese. For the longest time I struggled with where to even begin. I speak French and German, but Japanese is from another plant, by comparison. Should I learn written or spoken first? Which set of characters?

Now I’m stumbling deeper into my new bible, Remembering the Kanji by James Heisig. My boyfriend’s mum recommended the Heisig Method. She’s a gaijin as well. The method is layed for Westerners, starting with the easiest characters to draw, working up to the more complex. He also groups similar looking characters.

Basically it’s one big game of word association. The crux of the method is to attach a story to¬† the character and meaning that will send the kanji straight to your long-term memory.

Sometimes it’s absurd, for example I know the characters for things like “gall bladder” and “old age,” though I don’t yet know essentials such as “train” or “bathroom.” “Employee” is my favourite character so far. Combining shellfish and mouth, I can just picture little crabs scuttling around the factory floor, chatting away to each other.