A Few of My Favourite Books…

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Since this has come up a few times lately, here’s my list of my all time favourite reads… Comment and add yours!

  • The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey. 
  • The Rules of Civility by Amor Towles.
  • The Hours by Michael Cunningham. 
  • The Mercies by Kiran Millwood Hargrove. 
  • The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill.  
  • A Man Called Ove by Frederik Backman. 
  • Moon of the Crusted Snow by Waubgeshig Rice.
  • Circling the Sun by Paula McLain. 
  • Anything (not the title; I mean literally anything) by Michael Ondaatje. 
  • The Citadel by A.J. Cronin 
  • Child Finder by Rene Denfeld.  
  • Light Between the Oceans – M.L. Stedman.
  • Gabriela, Clove, and Cinnamon by Jorge Amado.
  • Where Did You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple.
  • Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid. 
  • We Were Liars by E. Lockhart. 
  • Cloud Cuckoo Land / All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. 
  • Rockbound by Frank Parker Day. 
  • Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. 
  • The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society  by Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Shaffer. 
  • A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry. 
  • The Shipping News by Annie Proulx. 
  • The Innocents by Michael Crummey. 
  • The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery. 
  • Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides. 
  • The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin.
  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. 
  • Out of Africa and Babette’s Feast, both by Isak Dinesen. 
  • Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery. 
  • Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell. 
  • The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah. 
  • Circe by Madeline Miller. 
  • Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus.

A Letter to My Public Health Unit

I received a letter yesterday about a case of Influenza A in my daughter’s school.

Question: why?

Let me be more specific: how is this letter in any way useful?

Lice letters are at least classroom specific. And lice won’t kill anyone or leave them with long term effects. This letter refers to a case in the school. There are almost 400 kids in the school. How is this helpful?

What’s even more interesting about your letter is that this is the first time I have EVER received anything like this in the entirety of my daughter’s scholastic years, first at TDSB and now here in Limestone. She’s in grade 8! 

Why now? This letter triggered so many more questions about public health.

Such as? Should she stay home from the ill advised overnight class trip, next week? For the record, she is already missing it because my 80 year old mother lives with us and the “personal risk assessment” we had to make meant choosing between the trip and the FULLY INDOORS grade 8 grad ceremony coming up. Grad won and masking in our home will follow for 5 days. Why? Outdoor ceremonies weren’t actively recommended apparently and schools are following a standard playbook because it “seems to be common practice”, according to our principal.

So let me ask this: will there be peanut products at the INDOOR finger food reception that follows the ceremony? No. And that’s the way it should be. 

By the way, my daughter spent all day yesterday with kids in grades 1-3, working on a project. Most of those kids weren’t masked. Is that an additional risk that we now need to worry about? 

And why, for the love of all things on this green earth, would you send this letter out but categorically ignore COVID and, specifically, long COVID? I don’t understand how a parent is supposed to make “personal risk assessments” with no information and no data. Isn’t that your job, to take action to keep people safe?

There is no logic to any of this. I am so thoroughly disappointed and disgusted with the actions—or rather the inaction—of public health. You are supposed to stand apart from partisan politics but it is clear that most don’t. It will be a long time before I ever trust PH again, if ever. I realize you don’t care what I think and will ignore my questions. If I get an answer at all, my guess is it will be formulaic and thoroughly unhelpful.

But I hope you realize one thing: that I’m not alone in this thinking. All the good work that PHUs have done in the past? Gone in a puff of an airborne virus. 

It’s Not About Individual Choice

I am sick of COVID-19.

I am sick of masks, vaccines… heck, I’m even sick of the word “COVID”.

But that doesn’t change the fact that it’s still with us and it will continue to propagate and variate as long as we ignore that reality.

There are so many anti-mask, anti-vaxx arguments that it would take twelve posts to list them all, but they all boil down to one thing: individual choice. Those against even the most basic protections are selfishly deciding that their immediate needs and desire to avoid minor inconveniences are relevant and that the larger social good is not.

They’re wrong for one simple reason: in indoor spaces, we all share the same air.

It is not possible to make an individual choice about not masking because we don’t all walk around in bubbles of individual air.

And now we have proof that unvaccinated people are in fact a danger to vaccinated people. Their “choice” completely undermines the safety of another person.

“Stay home if you’re afraid!” is the oft quoted refrain, in response to any mention of wanting people to consider the social context of public health.

Fine. I’ll stay home from going to restaurants, or to the movies, and I’ll continue to get groceries via curbside pickup. But we can’t all avoid indoor spaces. Some people have to work in these places, with no protections for them. Going to essential locations like the pharmacy or the grocery store, for those for whom curbside is impossible (not everyone has a car!), is now fraught because of the many unmasked people who have suddenly decided that listening to what the government tells them to do is a good thing.

And let’s not forget kids… Kids have to go to school by law. They have to go to school for six hours a day, with no protection for them, breathing the same air as all the other kids, some masked and some not. Except that we know that two way masking is far more effective than one way.

Barring a sudden influx of witches and wizards who can perform the bubble head charm, we need leaders to stand up and say “ENOUGH!”

Condemning families to forced infection is a public health stance that should not go unpunished. Schools are institutions that are ALWAYS talking about equity. Where is the equity for families who are told that if they’re not comfortable with their kids being at school, they can just keep them home and engage in remote learning?

In 2018, voter turnout was 58%. From a historical point of view, that was actually a good number. It would be great if it was even higher. We need actual leadership in this province, so for the love of all things good, please get out and vote on June 2.

7 Years From Now

Seven years ago, a writing prompt asked me to look ahead to 2022:

It’s funny what you discover when you re-read posts from the past. I didn’t have much to say about the future then, spending my writing capital to look back rather than forward. Nothing much has changed. I find it difficult in these times to look to far ahead, for fear of what I might discover.

After all, in 2029, Nikki will be turning 21. I will be turning 57. My mother will be 87. Will life be markedly different than it is today? God, I hope so. But without including the pandemic, I enjoy the thought of looking back over the last seven years.

Since 2015, I have returned to France with Nikki, introducing her to luxuries like the Galleries Lafayette, a premium shopping experience, to the simple pleasure of speculoos cookies and croissants dipped in hot chocolate.

We’ve moved from a too small house in a big city to a bigger house in a smaller city, which has given us room to breathe. Just in time for March 2020.

There’s a lot of talk online about “returning to normal”, but as I look at the last seven years, and ahead to the future, I don’t think that returning to the way things were in early 2020, is even possible. And in point of fact, I’d rather it didn’t. We’ve all been through a lot these last two pandemic years, and without measurable changes to how the world operates, it doesn’t look likely to end any time soon.

In the past, epidemics of cholera and typhus were catalysts to improve sanitation and manage waste water. Well, air is the new poop, according to a good doctor online (thank you Dr. David Fisman). If we don’t clean and manage “waste” air, people will continue to get sick. Some will be fine but many will not. In the last two years, over 6 million people worldwide have died. What will things look like in another seven years? I’m not sure, but I hope it will look better and brighter for all of us.

Pardon My Français

You’ve heard it before:

“Fuck this shit! Pardon my French!”

“That guy is a stupid fucking bastard! Pardon my French!”

I mean, if you were actually swearing in French, then I get why you might add the phrase.

Like this: “Putain de bordel de merde! Pardon my French!”

In fact, that’s exactly how this oft used phrase came about, albeit not in the context of profanity.

In the late 1800s, English people would drop French words / sentences into their speech, ostensibly to look posh: “Look at me, I’m so cultured and my style is de rigueur… Oh, pardon my French! I meant to say my style is very much the current fashion.” Whether with snotty intentions or not, the speaker was assuming that the listener wouldn’t understand the French term(s).

Still bitter after the end of the Napoleonic wars, even by the 1830s it seems as if speaking any French in England was the equivalent of farting in polite company. An early example of how the expression was used to apologize for having the bad taste to speak in that despised tongue comes from Baron Karl von Miltie’s 1831 The Twelve Nights:

Bless me how fat you are grown . . . you will soon be as embonpoint (excuse my French) as your dear father.


With continued usage, the phrase “pardon my French” became a dig at the French.

However, as adversity to anything French spread into British life, anything that was regarded as rude or uncouth was dubbed ‘French’, regardless of whether it actually was or not and the non-literal use of “Pardon my French” or “Excuse my French” was recorded in the 1901 edition of the Oxford English Dictionary, with an early example of veiled profanity offered in EJ Wakefield’s 1845 travelogue Adventures in New Zealand I which explained that “The enraged headsman spares no ‘bad French’ in explaining his motives.” (Source)

As a child of a French and English parent, I’m at a loss except to say that I don’t pardon it. Sorry. Find a new phrase to excuse your language or own it.

Putain de bordel de merde!

All of These Words…

These aren’t my words but they are perfection so I’m sharing them here.

The folks that say “It’s not my job to protect you” are awfully happy to benefit from clean water and safe food and construction standards and all the other parts of living in a society that only exist because yes actually, it fucking is your job.

The sheer unmitigated gall it requires to tell vulnerable people that they’re on their own while you gorge yourself at the buffet of safety and security that is in place solely because the generations before you realized that we need to look out for another.

This whole human experiment only works because ever since our ancestors slithered out of the ocean, we learned that you can’t do it all yourself, and we have to work together. You don’t get to enjoy the good parts of that and try to opt out when it’s inconvenient.

This isn’t a political argument. It’s a fundamental question about humanity. You want to absolve yourself of your moral obligations to the rest of the world? Go live in the goddamn woods and learn what true unadulterated freedom actually looks like.

Originally tweeted by Aaron Hoyland (@aaronhoyland) on April 4, 2022.

A Few of My Favourite COVID Links

Being the weirdo that I am, and wanting to always have the perfect response to even the dumbest questions (because there are indeed dumb questions and anyone who says otherwise is usually the one asking them), I have a list of my favourite tweets / links for when someone posts something dumb about COVID.

Yes, I know. We shouldn’t feed the trolls. We should block, mute, and generally ignore them. But I just can’t help myself sometimes. I just have to answer in the hope of changing someone’s mind. I have anecdotal evidence that it IS in fact possible to change what seems to be an intractable mind once in a while, so the “helper” in me can’t help but to try.

From the MOH who is still standing upread the thread:

On the topic of universal masking:

Bidirectional masking:  https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2468042720300191

“Universal masking was associated with a 72% reduction in secondary transmission” versus optional/partial masking.


Ideal retort:

On comparisons to the flu:

It’s not the flu:

“While COVID-19 has a respiratory phase, it is not a respiratory virus and it can cause serious long-term — even permanent — damage.”


1 in 4 kids get long COVID:


On long COVID:

Thread that encompasses most: https://twitter.com/weselymd/status/1501717860942553089?s=21

Mixing of vaxxed / unvaxxed and negative impact to vaxxed: 

Long term organ damage:


We didn’t know the long term effects of HPV when it was discovered either: 

Brain shrinkage:


Diabetes and COVID:


Heart disease and blood clots:

Kids and long COVID:

On the narrative that COVID is mild in kids:

“The intrinsic severity of Omicron BA.2 in children who had no past COVID-19 or vaccination is not mild, and in fact, they had higher odds of PICU admissions, mechanical ventilation and oxygen use.”

On masking and delayed learning:


Are there any that you think I should add to this list? Share them in the comments.

NOTE: All comments that are anti-mask, anti-vaxx or generally shitty will be removed. This is my turf. Don’t like it? Feel free to seek life elsewhere.

I’m Back, Baby!

March 5, 2018. That was the last post I put up on here. Seems like ages ago and yesterday, particularly since the last two years have seen me operating at a virtual standstill.

Every day has blended into the last, with little to look forward to. But like all things, this must come to an end.

The inner monologue in my brain is exhausting, so I’m going to start putting some of it on here again. Maybe it will bring some relief. Perhaps someone will get a laugh out of it. If it even makes one person smile, myself included, I’ve done what I set out to do.

Wut R Werds?

It’s 3:55 pm on Monday. But it could be 6:10 pm on a Tuesday or 5:45 pm on a Friday. The feeling I get at the end of a day of writing is always the same:


Writing blogs for businesses, as well as web copy, some other materials, a non-fiction book and my own novel (yes, really) leaves me devoid of any desire to write one more word on this here page.

I sit in front of the screen and say ‘Wut r werds?’… as I flap my bottom lip with my finger and suck coffee through a straw.

But then again, maybe this is exactly the catalyst my brain needs: a place where I can say what I want. Oh wait, that’s a diary. And also? You can’t do that anymore unless you want to be trolled to hell and back.

Okay, well may this is a place where I can just blab, as if you were sitting across from me and we were chatting away about whatever.

SO what should we talk about?