Saturday, December 27, 2008

Libros de Navidad

What's Christmas without books? In our house, nuthin'. I got:

100 Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Márquez - from Husband. Marquez is one of my favourite authors, and I had put Autumn of the Patriarch on my Christmas list. He couldn't find it locally so got me a copy of 100 Years of Solitude instead. Since I haven't read it since I just graduated university, and I don't own a copy, it's much appreciated and I'll enjoy reading it anew. My favourite novel is Márquez's Love in the Time of Cholera, and we gave our eldest niece a copy for Christmas.

The Audacity of Hope - Barak Obama - from Mom O. Never got around to reading it prior to the election but it seems like some good and optimistic reading for the Holiday break.

Bodies of Evidence - Dr. Scott Christianson - from Husband. A great book about the history of forensic science and how various aspects of it came into play in well-known cases, and the repercussions. (Example: after the O.J. Simpson trial, cops no longer carry blood samples drawn from suspects in their pockets as they return to and wander around the original crime scene!)

The World in Your Kitchen: Vegetarian Recipes from Africa, Asia and Latin America for Western kitchens - Troth Wells - From Husband. I'm not vegetarian (although to quote C. commenting drily on a different topic, "I suppose if I was a better person I would be") but why that would stop anyone from enjoying vegetarian recipes from around the globe is beyond me. Husband got this at Cultures, a small Fair Trade store here in Fredericton. He knows how much I love African, Asian and Latin American food (all those years of being exposed to international home cooking at the multicultural association were an education and a half that I wish everyone could have). It's chock-full of recipes from starters to desserts and drinks and I can't wait to start trying them out.

Our Dumb Century - Scott Dikkers and the Staff of The Onion - from Husband. A wonderful collection of Onion-style headlines and news stories from throughout the 20th century. Examples: April 16, 1912: WORLD'S LARGEST METAPHOR HITS ICEBERG; June 8, 1944: WAR RATIONING BOARD RESTRICTS NYLON USE TO ARMED FORCES, J. EDGAR HOOVER ONLY. Incidentally, last Christmas I got Stephen Colbert's I am America and So Can You and loved it.

The Portable Cudmudgeon - Jon Winokur, Ed. - From best friend A. A wonderful collection of quotations and anecdotes from an A-level list of misanthropes.

Husband got:

The Best of Little Feat - Cherry Lane Music - From me - A guitar tablature book of music by one of his favourite bands about which I know nothing, but it was on his Christmas list, so mine is not to wonder why, mine is just to search and buy.

Best of Crosby, Stills and Nash - Crosby, Stills & Nash - From me - A guitar tablature book of music by one of his favourite bands about which I know quite a bit, and it was on his Christmas list, so I was willing to buy it. (I'm the one who gets to listen to him play this stuff for hours on end, you know.)

Cuba by Korda - Alberto Korda - From me - One of the most famous photographers to ever emerge from Cuba, and the one whose images of the Cuban revolution have become iconic around the world. He writes the text that accompanies the images, which range from his early work in cheesecake and fashion photography, through his period as something like Castro's personal photographer, to - well, I haven't seen the end of the book yet. Translated from the original Spanish.

The Motorcycle Diaries - Ernesto Guevera - From me. Of the dozens of books we've read about Cuba, somehow neither of us have read this one. Another piece in understanding the puzzle that is Cuba.

The Comics - Jerry Robinson - From my best friend and his friend, A. - An illustrated history of comic strip art. A beautiful full-colour, text-rich history of the funnies.

Lots of good reading in the weeks to come!


Labels: ,

Friday, December 26, 2008

Your Christmas Feel-Good Story

Best Christmas Ever. Again.

Husband and I unwittingly gave each other the exact same digital photo frame (!). Which is great, 'cause we both wanted one. And lots and lots of books. (Details later in a post for the book-curious among us. Perhaps now that Barak and Michelle will be the American First Couple, reading will be fashionable again and intellectual curiosity won't be something to hide under the mattress like a battered copy of Penthouse.)

Meanwhile, here's your Christmas Feel-Good Story, a perfect antidote for all the recent economic news.

God bless the horses, God bless the people of McBride, British Columbia, and God bless us, every one.


PS: Don't miss the slideshow of photos documenting the rescue.


Saturday, December 20, 2008

Countdown to NORAD Tracking Santa

NORAD has started their annual countdown to their very, very serious work of tracking - and accompanying - Santa on Christmas Eve. I've written before about how emotional this particular tradition is for me. The Cold War was in full swing. The airspace between the North Pole and Canada was some dangerous territory, what with the Russians Right Over There. How comforting to know that NORAD was not only expecting Santa, but was accompanying him with fighter jets to make sure he was safe??

The Kids Countdown Page has some wonderful stuff on it, still amazingly in the spirit of NORAD (schematic diagrams of Santa's sleigh, anyone? - I love it when science meets fancy) and in the spirit of Christmas. It's so nice that they keep this tradition alive. And, of course, share it with your Littles on Christmas Eve so they can track the Jolly Old Elf as he visits every single place on earth in just - well, in just a magical number of hours.

Now, if I could just visit the site every year without tearing up.



Friday, December 19, 2008

Need a little Christmas

This is the gingerbread house on display at The Happy Baker, a European bakery and deli in downtown Fredericton. Even the display's base is a gingerbread sheet. You can get a sense of the size of it from the fruitcakes on the table behind it.
I'm particularly partial to the moose, bottom left.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Guard the Cow!

The first photo that seemed worth taking was one of the public art installations in Pearson Airport in Toronto. Big kitties!

This time we returned to the Holquin area of Cuba, the southeast of the Island. We stayed at Sol Rio de Luna y Mares (Sun River of Moon and Sea), which is less poetic than it first sounds as Sol is actually the name of the European company that owns the hotel and resort chain. We were in Guardalavaca, which means "Guard the Cow". This apparently dates back to colonial times and sea-faring raiders striking this then-cattle-rich area, but I still found it unreasonably amusing. The actual beach the hotel is on is Playa Esmerelda.

We didn't do much... in fact, due to a rather unusual schedule which saw our time split between two different resorts, we didn't even go into town this time. (But more about that later.) Here's a shot of Hobie Cats lined up at Luna y Mares, waiting for sailors.

A parasailor flies high over the sea and the sail of a Hobie. I didn't take advantage of this no-doubt-thrilling but absolutely terrifying-looking recreational option.

One rainy morning I went to the top floor of the hotel and took a shot of the hills in the distance.

Everything was beautiful and we couldn't have asked for more - but just in case you were tempted to forget that Cuba is a little bit sidewise, there were still reminders.

(The sign reads "SCHEDULE: Since the beginning to the end of operations.")

On a sunnier day I returned to the top floor to take a few more shots of the pleasant colonial architecture.

Señor Fish. He lived in a fountain in the lobby. He looks like he is up to something.

Every time we go back to Cuba there is some moment when we just look at each other in astonishment and acknowledgement that this truly is an alternate reality. On this trip, this came while watching a show about birdwatching on CubaVision. I'm actually a bit of a birder and very interested in finding out about the birds in Cuba, about which little has been written in English, so I was really excited to see this show on tv one morning even if it was in Spanish. After showing footage of each bird and describing it, the tv would show a map of the bird's territory. The first couple of birds were limited to Cuba and some of the nearby Caribbean islands, but then we moved on to a bird which roams all of North America and Cuba. Now, I didn't get a screen shot of the tv, but I've duplicated it as accurately as I can using Photoshop. Husband saw it too and can back me up (or at least call me out in comments if I'm lyin'!) and I swear on Veronica and Mojo's little heads that this is a duplicate of the map they showed:

I am not making this up. The United States of America does not exist on Cuban educational television.

As I mentioned, we ended up spending the second half of our vacation at a different place, the Paradisus Rio de Oro, so more about that later.

I'll also blog and post some pictures about the after-effects of Hurricanes Gustav and Ike. Amazing reconstruction efforts taking place.

More later,

Labels: , ,

Friday, December 12, 2008

When Leaders go bad...

A friend sent this to me - it's a parody created using a trailer from the movie "Valkyrie". The nuanced matching of the subtitles to the actors' speech would be reason enough to watch, even if the content itself wasn't so hilarious...


The View

This time last week:


Compare and contrast.

More later...


Labels: , ,