Friday, March 27, 2009


That is the sound my overtaxed synaptic network makes trying to cope with the inherent contradictions of this most vexing and tantalizing of seasons.

(I live in Canada, remember?)

I grew up in Edmonton where, if the temperature rose above freezing in April, the boys in the neighborhood went rushing out shirtless and in cutoffs into the streets to play Frizbee. Because Summer was so dang short you had to make the most of Spring to help stretch the fun budget.

Toronto, where I now hang my hat, is a little different. Summers are hot and humid and not all that short for Canada. They're good, I enjoy them - but the seasons I love are the ones that bracket Summer. The inbetween ones. I adore the Autumn - except it's a kind of poignant adoration, because I know what lies in wait at its finish. Bleh. Spring, therefore, should be my most beloved time of the year. And it is. Except when it's not.

For Spring, you see, is a maddening concotion of contradictions. It makes me a crazy person.

To wit:

"Look at all that watercolor-fresh sunlight! Let's go run outside in a floaty skirt and no winter coat!"....."OMG! It's freezing out here! My knees are blue! Where is my long underwear? Why? Why do you mock me, sun?"


"Look how all that snow has finally melted! Let's go run outside and enjoy the newly uncovered world!"....."Ack! Yuck! Look at all that crap left behind in the gutters! What is that on my sandal?Why didn't I wear socks? Ew. Is that snow mold? Were all these cigarette butts hiding under that snowbank?? The horror!"

And on and on.

"I can finally go out in the garden!"..... "But it's an utter disaster!"..... "It's sunny and bright out!".... "And completely bloody sub-zero!"...."It's cloudy and grey out!"....."But entirely too warm for this jacket!"....."Look! Squirrels! Whee!"....."They're eating the tulip shoots! Dang!"....."Green sprouty things!"....."Oh. Weeds.".....

Then I start to run around in ever-decreasing concentric circles until my head goes "Sproing!"

It's a tangled, difficult relationship. A love/hate thing.... um....
You'll excuse me now, won't you? I have gazed out my window and am compelled to go outside and frolick in the gentle golden breeze.
D'you think I'll need a coat?.... Nah.....

Thursday, March 26, 2009

A Reversal of Seasons

Reading all the other posts this week, I’ve realized I’ve got a very odd sense of spring since I’ve been living in Arizona for the past nine years. I grew up in Philadelphia, so everything the rest of the Novel Girls wrote about reminded me of the springs of my childhood. But since I’ve lived in Arizona, I’ve almost come to dread spring, because spring is the predecessor to summer, and summer is unbearably hot. But winter? I LOVE winter – 60 and 70 degree days, beautiful sunshine, cool nights.

This seasonal reversal took a little while getting used to. My birthday’s in the summer, and growing up, I always used to think of my birthday being in the nice time of year. I had parties outside, and I felt bad for people who had dreadfully cold winter birthdays. But since I’ve been living here, I’ve spent all my birthdays not wanting to be anywhere that didn’t have air-conditioning, and lots of it. My son, who has a winter birthday, always gets to have his parties outside, in the beautiful sunshine. He was born in Arizona, so I imagine, if, one day, he moves somewhere with normal seasons, he’ll find the concept of winter strange.

So I guess it’s sort of like this for me in the Arizona desert: summer is winter, spring is summer, and fall is spring. Fall is the time of year when we finally break out of the heat, when the outside world begins to seem like an inhabitable place again. Kinda like how most of the rest of you guys are feeling right now, coming off a long stretch of unbearable cold! Me? I’ve already had my air on for the last three weeks, and have started breaking out the shorts.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

I'm in Daffodil Heaven.

Spring makes me happy, no doubt about it.

As soon as I see that first little yellow daffodil head poking out in my yard, the smile is back on the face. And it's really back on my face this year as I've decided to get rid of the junk, clean out the cobwebs inside and out. About a month ago I realized, in horror, that I had not culled out any unwanted wardrobe pieces since I moved to this house 9 YEARS AGO. OUCH!

And speaking of wardrobe, don't you hate that period in between winter and spring when it comes to fashion? I know I do. When just because it's officially spring doesn't quite mean that you can actually pull out your pastels and short sleeves. It's still cold enough, most days, to wear the dark sweaters and boots. So I never actually know which way to dress this time of year.

But my favorite part about spring is definitely my daffodil garden. I've tried to collect several different varieties. I'm posting my favorite here even though it's hard to grasp its true beauty. They're peach colored on the inside. Imagine that. (I had no choice, for purposes of this post, but to take their picture at night.)

I'm racing off to New York at 6 o'clock this morning for a couple of days to meet my (and Maureen's) fab editor, Katie Gilligan, as well as my agent extraordinaire, Holly. I hope to post pictures next week. Until then, pick a daffodil or two, or three . . . for me!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

I'm Allergic to Chicago Weather

When I think of spring, I think of snow. No, seriously.

Here in Chicago, we don't really have a proper "spring." It's more like, "Here's a couple of random warm days to tease you before I wallop you with one last snowfall. I will stick around until approximately mid-June, making you freeze your Windy-City-butts off, until I quickly usher in summer and 90 degree temps." (Can you tell it's wretched here today?)

As if it wasn't obvious before, Chicagoans love to complain about the weather. And, really, we're allowed. We get it all--from twelve inches of snow (but no school/work cancellations) to 100% humidity (usually on a day when my flatiron shorts out). We'll cry in January about the freezing cold temperatures and -30 windchill and then bitch, moan and fan ourselves seven months later when we're MELTING in all of the heat.

Anyway, I digress.

Spring. Yes, let's talk about spring.

While I love all the signs that winter's chill is thawing, spring brings along one Very Unwelcome Guest to Maureen's Warm Weather Party: Allergies. You name it, I'm allergic to it. Pollen, grass, cats, dogs, dust, mold and I'm sure a bunch more that I haven't discovered yet.

But thanks to the wonders of allergy medicine (Zyrtec, I would so marry you and have your little pill babies), I'm able to do stuff like, you know, go outside and clean my house.

Of course, I can't complain too much about my allergies. Because they are a perfect excuse for getting out of stuff. Like when my mother-in-law wants to go hiking or camping: "Sorry! Allergies!" or when it's my turn to clean the kitty litter, "No way! I feel an allergy attack coming on!"

And then I go pop an allergy pill and read US Weekly.

Monday, March 23, 2009

The Energy of Spring

The days are slowly warming, and though we might have another cold snap (or two) in Ohio, Spring has officially arrived.
When I think of Spring, I think of new beginnings. Flowers bloom, grass turns green, leaves burst out of tree branches, and the scent of the season is fresh and alive, almost energizing. And, frankly, that last part (the energizing thing) irritates the heck out of me.

Yep, you read that right. I'm an Autumn girl. I like the rain. I like cool, crisp days that beg for nothing more than curling up in a comfy chair with a blanket and a terrific book. Spring makes me want to DO things like clean the house, ramp up my exercise regimen, cook healthier meals, become more organized, etc. And because I'm really a lazy sort of girl, Spring just isn't my season.

I like having an excuse to be lazy, and let's be honest...Spring just doesn't offer up that many excuses I can grab on to. None of these work that well:
  • I can't wash the windows. Too much fresh air will get in the house. I might sneeze!
  • What? The car needs washed? But it's warm and sunshiny outside!
  • Hmm, I'd go for a walk and get some exercise, but the sidewalks are ice-free, so what fun is that?
  • Sorry kids, we can't go to the park today. There will be too many kids there to play with, what with the day being so nice and all!
See what I'm dealing with? Spring days tend to be beautiful days that beg for activity. Whereas cold fall days beg for hot soup, hot tea, cozy blankets, long movies, good books, and hibernating. And fall leads into winter, which begs for deeper hibernation.
I rather like hibernating.
But no, now with the warmer days, my brain will think up all these things that need doing. And if I don't do them, I'll feel guilty and the guilt will ruin any bit of laziness I try to get away with.
But I suppose if we didn't have Spring, I'd never do anything, and...well, that wouldn't be so hot, either. So with that thought in mind, here are my top ten things I like about Spring:
10. The flowers. I really do love seeing flowers bloom all over the place.
9. The sense of a new beginning, and that everything has a cycle.
8. Windows being open. All that fresh air is nice after months of a closed-off house.
7. Lighter jackets, and eventually, no need for coats at all.
6. My electric / gas bill is the cheapest all year.
5. Hiding Easter baskets in really difficult places so my kids have to search extra hard.
4. I can sit outside with my laptop to write.
3. The sound of birds singing through the newly opened windows.
2. Three of my four children's birthdays are in May.
1. It's only two seasons away from Autumn.
Happy Spring everyone!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Novel Girls News!

Novel Girl Lesley Livingston received a fabulous review of Wondrous Stange in The Globe and Mail -- Canada's biggest national newspaper!

Among other lovely things, the review says "Oh, bestselling Twilight, thou hast a strong contender," and "Livingston delivers with skillful momentum . . .As a young adult fantasy, this book has it all. " Click here to read the whole review.

Congratulations, Lesley!