Friday, December 15, 2006


For those of you who don't think I'm a total Grinch stay with me on this one, because today we're going to talk about totally useless gifts. And maybe, some gifts you might want to go with that are "untraditional". Here's some gifts I think are absurd at best, and "whacko" at worst:

1) PJ's for women that sport Tweetie Bird, Winnie the Pooh, Tinkerbell, Kelloggs Apple Jacks, or Thumper. Or any other Disney creature. Mickey Mouse a few years ago was bad we're supposed to entice our man with the message that we're entering our second childhood with Tweetie Bird? Puleeze...*he'll* be the one getting a headache...

2) Slippers. For anyone in your family. At any age, even if it's Great-great Aunt Elspeth in the Nursing Home. She's lived that long, she deserves a pound of Kickass Donkey Coffee and lunch out with you at her favourite restaurant. Be kind.

3) A curling iron, blow dryer, iron, toaster, toaster oven, kettle that turns itself off, coffeemaker for 24, foot sauna, make-up mirror with three light display, or electric ladies razor set. Am I getting my point across here?

4)Camping gear, air hockey games for the family room, drum sets, trampoline, and a portable ice making machine.

5) A cell phone for your elderly mother because you worry about her highway driving - but you don't buy her the monthly service. Now, that's just miserly! And why does she need a cell phone that takes pictures anyway?

6) Any robotic dog, cat, puppy, etc. that does anything, anything at all. Do - not - buy - it. You - will - lose - your - mind.

7) A "2 chicken/rooster", "2 rabbits", "2 goats", "cow", or "donkey" out of the World Vision catalogue. We support 2 World Vision children and 1 Compassion child, have for years. We believe strongly in this program. But please don't send your money there and call it a gift to me. It's a gift to them. And I appreciate you supporting them. Tell you what, I'll send them 2 goats, and still take you out for Christmas lunch, ok?

Cool Christmas Gifts:

1) The iRobot Roomba robot vac. If you want to give your wife an appliance, this one'll light up her eyes! It won't bother you to run it around a few rooms either.

2) For him: the sexiest lingerie you can find with the biggest red bow on top. Why buy him tools? He doesn't use them anyway. THIS he can use! And don't stop there, adult shops have feathers, love dust, and games for even the most shy among us.

3) Microsoft Webcam with Live call button. Better than any beauty appliance you were thinking of getting her.

4) Not just for your techno-teens, the nexXtech 512MB MP3 Player that fits in the palm of your hand; comes in black, orange and lime green (my personal favourite). And for teen stocking stuffers, JVC has Gumy headphones in black, silver, lime, and orange to match for only $15.

5) So your husband won't yell at you on your next vacation trip - a no-subscription-fees GPS Garmin in-car unit, loaded with Canada and US maps. Full colour, and anti-glare for easy reading. How cool is that?

6)Anything out of the Zeke's or People's Jewellers Catalogue. Diamond's truly are a girl's best friend. My husband bought me a ruby and diamond ring to celebrate the year 2000 and I haven't taken it off since.

7) Old, old, photographs of past family members, letters, or diaries. War medals, scrapbooks, etc. that you don't know what to do with and want a home for - because I'm a writer and I'll do the research to put it all together into a family history. What a wonderful present that would be!

8) A magazine subscription to Writer's Digest, The Atlantic, Time, Macleans, National Geographic, The New Yorker, Ellery Queen, The Beaver, Creative Memories Scrapbooker. I'd remember you every time it came in the mail.

9) A home-made book of coupons with all my favourite activities on them, that you HATE to do; eg. "one day at your favourite craft fair with $50 to spend", "one day at the local dog show", "one day Christmas shopping without whining", "good for one foot massage", "good for winning one argument", etc. Get creative people, you can make it last all year and be giving each other a coupon a week!

Happy weekend Christmas shopping!

Thursday, December 14, 2006


Tis the Season to be giving - as the last 11 days of shopping fall upon us it's time to be thinking of the "what", the "how", and "how much" is in our budget for our loved ones this year. I've only just begun to shop for my family. This year I'm trying to NOT do all of the things that I've come to hate over the years, in the matter of getting gifts. Here's what I mean:

1) No, I'm NOT giving you a gift receipt so you can exchange it for something you'll like better for the same amount of money. THIS is what I spent my time thinking about, deciding on, schlepping the malls for, and THIS is what I decided you'd love. SO, I hope you love it. Merry Christmas!

2) No, I'm NOT giving your adorable 12 yr-old-who's-an-incredibly-off-the-charts-genius a $100 present when I can't afford to give my own 14 yr-old a $100 present. She'll have to be grateful for what she gets from me in the family gift exchange.

3) No, I'm NOT giving your wonderful ..... (fill in the blanks) child a $50 gift certificate to ...... (fill in the blanks) because he prefers to pick out his own gifts. When I was 15, I learned that it was important to appreciate what others gave me when I opened a present and to thank them for it...maybe it would be nice if you gave your son the same learning experience. I'm just saying?

4) PLEASE don't ask my for my "Christmas Wish List" again this year. I know you won't buy anything on it, and I'll just be disappointed. I know I'll love whatever you give me, so let's not play the charade, ok?

5) When I tell you I'm a size large in sweaters, tops, cardigans, tank tops, loungewear, PJ's, camisoles, pants, etc. that means a size LARGE. Buying me a size medium, or god forbid, a size XL is only going to make me cry Christmas morning when I pull out that gorgeous cashmere sweater that I can't return because you bought it in New York last July.

6) When I tell you my taste in clothes lean towards Old Navy and Marks Work Wearhouse for "everyday", please don't buy me stuff from Holt Renfrew or Harringtons to "brighten up" my look. The only one who'll see it is my dog who lies beside my desk while I write in my basement.

7) PLEASE do not give my special needs daughter any more colouring/sticker books/markers/glitter pens/or feather craft kits. She's into make-up, nailpolish, boys, and MuchMusic videos now, and while that may offend you (lol) she's "delayed", not dead.

8) The same goes for my special needs son. He doesn't need anymore Bionicle sets, Legos, wooden boats, or SpongeBob stuff. If it's not Spiderman or some other Superhero, it'd better be something to do with XBox. And oh yes, he'll beat you, no matter what game it is. :)

9) PLEASE do not REGIFT me with any of your leftover gifts. If you want to find a home for something - give it to Goodwill, a homeless person, or the nearest Women's Shelter. There's nothing more uncouth, rude, or disgusting than receiving a Christmas gift from someone who says, "I got this from so-and-so and it didn't suit me so I thought of YOU. Merry Christmas!"

I know that many of you just haven't had the courage to say these things. Now I have! This is just Part One of some Christmas Trend Observations...tune in tomorrow for Part Two.

And any of you out there who are guilty of visiting these sins on your family, think again! You are not a popular person at Christmas time!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Thriller Writer

I've discovered a new thriller writer - TED DEKKER - and he's the kind of writer that is so GREAT you want to get to his entire backlist and read everything the guy has ever written. I just finished THR3E which has just been made into a movie and is coming out in January. I won't give you any spoilers! The problem with the book is that once you've read it, you can't see the movie, although I suppose it would be interesting to see how they manage to pull it off.

DEKKER was raised in Indonesia and now resides in the States. He can be found at TED DEKKER He has a Blog on site, and videos to go with his books, although I found the quality of them was sporadic. He deals with the themes of extreme good and evil. I'm reading his SAINT right how, which deals with kidnapping, brainwashing, and assassins.

Take a look at his site. I highly recommend it. Think I'll link up to him as well. Not everyone gets a movie made from their book and I think that's worth supporting.

The Search for Laura Gainey

By now you'll all have heard of the weekend long search for LAURA GAINEY, who was swept overboard by a "rogue wave" in high seas off the coast of Cape Cod Saturday night. She was sailing on the PICTON CASTLE, a tall ship - a clipper ship - down to the Caribbean for the Christmas holidays, with a full crew. She wasn't wearing a life jacket, nor was she lashed to any of the masts during the gale, which would seem to be the first of common sense safety measures in a harsh sea storm. Tall ships, like cruise ships, can't turn on a dime and return to pick up a "man overboard". The crew heard her scream for help as she went overboard, and immediately threw life jackets, life preservers, and markers into the sea.

We used to own a small 22' Tanzer sailboat. We both took sailing lessons, although mine consisted of a day long seminar so that I knew enough to tack back and forth and steer it so that I wouldn't perish on our open lake back home in Ontario. Even with such a small sail boat, it's impossible to turn around quickly to save anyone who's gone overboard. We worried so much about our children that we ended up getting babysitters when we went sailing, as we couldn't afford another $1000.00 for a back railing, and the kids didn't enjoy the heeling of the boat anyway. To go back to get someone who's fallen overboard, a sailboat would have to tack back and forth about four times to "come around", IF the winds were good, and I'd imagine it would take a good half hour to an hour for the person to be treading water to get rescued. If they were lucky, another boat would get to them faster. When I took rescue swimming in police college, we had to swim 2 miles in a front crawl, and tread water for 15 minutes. I remember how exhausting it was.

I can't help but think that Laura Gainey has died doing what she loved. Why her Captain didn't follow obvious safety measures is a question that someone will no doubt investigate. In a news report this morning he was asked "why" none of them were wearing life jackets in the middle of the storm. He answered, "well, the railings are tall enough that no one usually goes over." Oh really?I don't think "usually" is going to satisfy a grieving Mr. Gainey and his other three children, who've already lost a wife and mother to brain cancer. I know that if I were Mr. Gainey, I'd be suing that Captain and his boat company with the help of a good lawyer. Merry Christmas to you, sir!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006


Today I posted under the comments section for Monday December 4th over at Romance Worth Killing For for on the subject of spousal support for our writing. It's the subject of the article I've been writing for Romance Writers Report. ROMANCE WORTH KILLING FOR is a three person blog, with one of the three being Joan Swan, my critique partner. I highly recommend popping over there to see what the ladies are up to. Plus, my comments there are riffing right off the article.