<$BlogRSDURL$> Spontaneous Things: Karina Sumner-Smith's Blog
Friday, July 30, 2004
Summoned Sale
Ooh, Summoned to Destiny is on sale at Amazon! Not that I was obsessing over the book or anything. Surely I wouldn't do anything like that.

Julie reports that it's at the printers right now, ready to start "zooming off the assembly line."  I can't wait to see this book.  I don't think it will feel entirely real until I can hold a copy in my hands ... and probably not even then.

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 11:23 AM (0) comments

Wednesday, July 28, 2004
More Kittens!

The kitten tally at New House has risen to three.  Though I haven't yet seen him, apparently my parents managed to find the last little kitten.  Apparently, my father just happened to look out the window as the little kitten was running by.  He and my mother rushed out intending to corner him, but my mother was able to just walk over and pick him up, and he started purring immediately. He's been named Morgan.

I'm so, so happy that they managed to find him--and that he's alive after a week outside alone. Apparently all he did for a while was drink and eat and rest, and his little voice was so hoarse that he could only squeak.  But he's been getting better, and now is apparently an affectionate, active little thing.

All three have been to the vet, and are healthy kittens--especially considering their somewhat rocky beginning. And the dogs are getting use to them, and vice versa; Lindy reports that they've had to wash Morgan once already just to get rid of all the dog drool from the vigourous licking that Emma gave him. (And anyone who has met a lab knows how much they can drool.) I'll try to put up a picture of them when I have one.

But here's the thing: we cannot have three cats and two dogs. This is what I've been told. And since Max (whose gender has been confirmed as female) gets along least well with Emma and Tia, the decision is that we need to find a new home for her. So, does anyone out there want a kitten? She is sweet and active and has somehow gained a liking to sitting on people's shoulders. She purrs like a little motorboat, and spins around trying to eat her own tail. If you're somewhere in southern Ontario I'd be happy to try and find a way to bring her to you--anything to make sure that she has a good home.

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 10:12 PM (0) comments

Sunday, July 25, 2004
Kittens and Poison Ivy

Despite the fact that this has been a weekend of totally average length, I feel like it's gone on forever. And I mean that in a good way.

Friday was a BBQ at work for everyone in the building. Some time I'll have to wax poetic on my theories about office environments and snacks--not to mention work-related social events--but for now I'll say that I was very happy to have the free lunch (which really was both free and lunch, TANSTAAFL aside) and to go home early. And home I went--my New House home, that is, because I'd learned that my family was now in possession of two tiny, black stray kittens.

Now most of you know that I'm allergic to cats. Quite allergic, actually; association with cats of pretty much any description will have me reaching for Claritin and/or decongestants and/or Ventolin within moments. That being said, I am totally and absolutely a cat person, and would never miss an opportunity to play with kittens. (My brother is very allergic to cats, too, perhaps even more than I am, and his attitude towards kittens is about the same. We really do agree on some subjects--who knew?)

Apparently, Marc found some guy dumping dirt in our back driveway, which is quite far away from the house and therefore prime dumping ground for anyone and everyone. While Marc was telling this guy to quit it already and pay attention to the No Tresspassing sign that was about three feet from his head, he happened to notice that someone had dumped a milk crate of cats in the same area. (He is also quite convinced that dirt-dumping guy and cat-dumping guy are not the same person. He's charitable that way.) Around the crate (having been cut or bitten their way through the plastic ties holding the plywood lid on the crate, I don't know which) were a young mother cat and her three kittens, all of whom were black.

Marc and his friend managed to grab two of the kittens and bring them home. The mother and the other kitten refused to come close enough, running away and hiding before they could be grabbed. Various members of my family have gone out looking for those two for days, but no luck.

That someone dumped a milk-crate full of cats anywhere makes me more angry than I can put into words at the moment, and that we were only able to catch two of them makes me upset, too. But the good thing is that two kittens were caught, and fed (and fed and fed) and given fresh water to drink and a warm place to sleep.  The slightly larger, darker one has been named Sara and the dark grey, lightly-striped one is Max (though his gender is somwhat under debate).

And so drugged to the gills, I happily played with the kittens. We played the chase-the-spider-plant game, and the run-after-the-ball game, and the pounce-on-one's-sibling game (though I just watched and laughed at that last one).  They fight and leap about, and curl up together in the chair, and bite things with their tiny kitten teeth.  Friday night, I knelt down by their sleeping chair and as Max climbed onto my shoulders and Sara climbed into my lap, both purring like motorboats and meowing for emphasis, I thought, I want to keep them.

My mother seems to have thought the same thing. As I'm typing, Max and Sara are still living happily at New House, and talk of their continued residence there continues.

And speaking of my mother ... it turns out that when she was gardening a week or so back, that plant underneath the raspberry cane that she was pulling out for four hours was poison ivy. And as it so happens, Lindy is one of those people who is very, very sensitive to poison ivy, more so than the average person. Apparently it can take about seven to ten days for the rash to fully come out (which I did not know), so this weekend she was an absolute wreck. I have never seen blisters that bad in my life, and how she kept from clawing off her own limbs from the itch and pain of it, I don't know.  One of the first things I said to her was that it was bad enough that she needed to go to the doctor. The pharmacist agreed.

But even after the very powerful medication that the doctor gave her on Saturday began to work, it was not a miracle cure. And I can't see someone hurting like that and not help. It's just not an option. And so I spent most of Saturday wrapping and re-wrapping my mother's arms and legs in cold compresses, and cleaning away the old calamine lotion and all the various bits of cotton wool and Kleenex that had managed to adhere themselves to the wounds, and putting on more lotion and cream--in short, caring for her over the space of an afternoon as she has cared for me countless times before.

I had to leave that evening to go pick up hamsters, of all things, but she was already doing so much better when I left than she had been that morning, or even the night before. And she has those kittens to keep her company; there's always that.

No kittens for me here, sadly, but its been a lovely day anyway.  Finished a book that Jihane gave to me, 32AA by Michelle Cunnah (first bright pink book with a bra on the cover that I've ever read), and When Lightning Strikes by Meg Cabot, and started another Meg Cabot book this evening. Plus I watched an episode of Firefly, and slept until almost 11, and ate pancakes, and wrote. Now if only I had some chocolate or a fanastic dessert, I think that this day would have been perfect.

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 9:13 PM (0) comments

Thursday, July 22, 2004
Testing, testing ...

Rogers if you're messing with this account I will ... I will ... be angry. You have been warned.

(Upload, please upload...)

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 4:10 PM (0) comments

Wednesday, July 21, 2004
Life, in No Particular Order 

I keep expecting that things are going to pause for me, allow me a chance to catch up on everything that's been slipping away and eluding me: sleep, email, time to think, my sanity. I remember M'ris asked me, sometime in the months before I finished school, whether I thought I'd have more or less free time after I graduated.  "Oh, more," I said, ever so confidently.  "I sure hope it's more."


Course, things would be different if I was working somewhere else; somewhere with different hours, say, or a location that did not require the two hours of commuting. So, sooner or later, things will be different. You can rest assured that while I truly value some of the experiences and knowledge and skills that I'm gaining in my current position (and they are many), I do not plan to work at York the rest of my life.  As excellent as it has been for me, I feel that I can't stay working long-term from the same institution where I got my degree.  I have a tendency to get ... stuck, if I'm not careful. 

(I've just mentally crossed every finger, toe and hair that I have to cross in the hopes that these won't be yet more words I'll be forced to eat.)

In the mean time, I'm making long-term plans ... of a sort.  Do the next few months count as "long term"? What about general speculations about the things I need/want to have accomplished in the next year? It feels long-term, anway.

But what on earth have I been doing these past few weeks, beyond pondering, making plans and not posting? So happy you asked. In fact, this seems like a lovely opportunity to use Blogger's lovely new/old bullet-point feature, as trying to make these into seperate entries (as they could and likely should be) would be an overwhelming task (update: and it did seem lovely, but the visual results ... not so much).  So:

Not last weekend but the weekend before was the party to celebrate my Oma and Opa's 50th wedding anniversary.  My Oma and Opa, being the fabulous people that they are, have a lot of friends, and so this party (held at New House, of course) had over 90 attendees and required a caterer, a fancy sound system and a gigantic white tent on the front lawn. People came from all over Ontario, parts of the States, and Germany to attend this party. Personally, I baked nearly a hundred tarts (strawberry chiffon and lemon merangue), acted as a waitress/hostess/generally hepful person, and gave a short but heartfelt speech about my grandparents that made people cry. Entertaining, if somewhat hectic and nervewracking.  Took a full day to set up everything and a full day to get cleaned up afterwards. Much fun.

This past week, a friend from Julie's newsgroup, Jihane, was here from Paris. There ensued much socializing. While she was in Toronto, everyone kept getting together to see her and generally hang out. I saw a lot of Sarah and Jana, too, and a little bit of Lara and Robbie. I don't think that I've been that social, or gone out so often, or had so much fun in quite a while.  It was exhausting, of course, and I absolutely crashed on Sunday, but it was worth it, without a doubt.

I found an excellent birthday present for M'ris. (Evil laughter.)

I made an agreement regarding the writing of a novel, which appears to be working thus far. Enough already. One cannot publish novels if one does not write novels; that much is obvious by now.

I had a pair of my favourite earrings go through the laundry, which they did not survive intact. Oops. Guess I shouldn't have done that.

I finally used the HMV gift certificates that I got through all those points I amassed during my years as a MyPoints member. Though I was tempted to buy CDs, I bought what I really wanted: the Firefly DVDs! What's more, they were having a sale: buy one boxed DVD set of season one of some show, get another boxed DVD set of season one of some show of equal or lesser monetary value for free. Which is how I ended up the proud owner of Season 1 of Sex and the City on DVD. Yes, I could have gotten season one of Buffy or Angel, but as I watch neither that seemed rather foolish; and I could have gotten season one of Friends, but it's on TV constantly and season one wasn't that fantastic, really; and I could have got season one of The X-Files but it was almost $170 and that very much was not equal or lesser value. But, heads up to people in Toronto who want season one of these and other various shows on DVD: go to the big HMV. You know the one I'm talking about.

I declared war on the house centipedes that invade my apartment. House centipedes are the Devil. They are gigantic and crawly and frighteningly fast and they bite! They must die. All of them.

The weather turned unpleasant ... if you ask me, anyway. 22 is not summer weather. 23 is not summer weather, and neither is 24, if you ask me. Not for the daytime high, anyway. And it rained. It rained and rained and rained and then rained some more. In fact, it was raining this afternoon hard enough that the water was leaking through the bus windows and splattering my book. Sub par. And today I was promised great heat--28 but with a humidex of 40--and it did not arrive. I know 40. That was no 40. I even had to put on a sweater while I was outside for a while. Grr. I want my summer!

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 7:18 PM (0) comments

Tuesday, July 20, 2004
I have a mouse in my office! Small and brown, I just saw him scurrying along by the (non-art installation) windows beneath the heater bar. I must admit, I rather like his company: quiet, quick, unobtrusive.
Course, the negative is that he's gone through the hole in the (mostly finished) wall into my boss' office and I doubt she'll be as welcoming of his presence as I. Now I just have to figure out a way to capture and transport a small mouse using nothing but a mug and a spoon without anyone else here knowing. It's a diversion. Yes, let's call it that.

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 10:14 AM (0) comments

Tuesday, July 13, 2004
So ... very ... tired ...

I had a fantastic weekend, though it was probably the most hectic time in recent history. Nothing like helping throw a party for 90 people to keep things interesting.

Have to go to bed, but I just discovered that CTV plays The Amazing Race starting at 10:00. I can't stay up until 11 PM (unbelievable as that seems). And yet ...

Race or sleep? Sleep or race? Man, sounds like I'm adventure racing already.

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 10:23 PM (0) comments

Thursday, July 08, 2004
Art Installation Office

I believe I have mentioned that I work in an interesting room in this office: the back room/storage room. It's not really supposed to be a storage room, see, but there was nowhere else to put all those inspirational posters and spare chairs, so... It's actually a really lovely room: big, with a full wall of windows along one side, so there's lots of space and lots of natural light. There is, as far as I can see, only one design flaw: the window that goes into the hallway.

Now looking at it, I can totally understand why there is a wide, floor-to-ceiling window going from this back office into the hall. The hall, after all, is closed off, and this window allows light to come from our big outside windows into what would otherwise be a closed space. Great theory. Unfortuntately, whoever designed it failed to think about the actual use of these spaces. The light beckons from the end of the hall to any and all, promising access to the outdoors. Drawn like moths, they walk the long length of the hallway only to find that their promised exit is but a pane of glass that looks into a big back office/storage room. Frustrated but curious, these people proceed to have a good look at whatever else is in the room: the desks, the chairs, the computers and, oh yes, me. Some of them do not seem to understand that I can see them, too.

Now the worst is actually the desk that I refer to as the Art Installation Desk. Sitting in this desk, as I had to do with some frequency for a few weeks, one becomes the centre of attention for anyone walking down the hall. Other than the floor, there is really nothing else to look at but this bright, natural light surrounding me, on a computer, typing at the end of a very long hall. Not only does everyone here now know what I mean when I say Art Installation Desk but they all fear it, too. (Or perhaps they only fear hearing another of my stories about it...)

To make things more interesting, unrelated activities in the building have increased traffic in this area over the past few days, drawing more people to the hall. Even though I am not sitting in the Art Installation Desk, enough people are coming to the window and peering inside that my normal desk is starting to feel like an art installation, as well. The whole office is, really--not even my sometime roommate can escape the scrutiny, far away from the window as she is.

I have tried to fight it. I have asked when the blinds that are supposed to cover this window will arrive. I have cheerily waved to those who peer in the window, and I have stonily ignored them as if I am oblivious to all but the words on my computer screen. Today, I have given up and accepted it. I work in the Art Installation Office. As proof, I have written and posted this sign on the window:

"Like Bugs in a Jar: York Employees at Work"

Mixed Media Installation by K. Sumner-Smith, 2004

Two and a half months in the making, "Like Bugs in a Jar" is a live and dynamic piece designed to showcase life in a University office/storage room. The artist dedicates this piece to a continued lack of window blinds.

Astute viewers will notice the similarity between this work and Ms. Sumner-Smith's earlier installations, "No, This is Not a Public Entrance," "I Know You're There--I Was Just Ignoring You," and "Stop Tapping on the Glass: Frustration, Distraction and Lost Students."

About the artist: She may be looking at you right now.

This display is open between the hours of 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM, Monday to Friday.

Note: Please do not tap on the glass--you may scare the workers.

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 2:08 PM (2) comments

Tuesday, July 06, 2004
One (is the Lonelist Girl in the Back Office)

These are the problems with not sending stories out for a long period of time (for example, oh, say between about April and two weeks ago):

One cannot sell stories that are only sitting on one's own desk. At least as far as I'm aware.

One forgets how to forget about submissions. As a result, one obsesses: has it been two to three months yet? Only four days? Oh. ... Now? ... What about now?

One's obsession with checking the mail begins to seem slightly silly, even unjustified. After all, who is that excited about mail when all she can expect to receive are bills and Pizza Pizza fliers?

One ends up with a collection of stamps, meant for submissions, that are now one cent too slim to actually send said submissions. And one hates to buy one cent stamps. One would really rather just tape a penny to the envelope, and has considered doing so on multiple occasions.

(Y'know, I once had a character named One. Well, he was really five characters, but still. And, in a fit of teenaged naming amusement, I made his initials O.N.E.--One Nalan Epsilon. Poor guy(s). I think it's a good thing I never got around to writing that one. ... Damn, was that a pun?)

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 2:48 PM (0) comments


Someone asked me if I'd gotten any writing done at the con. Writing? Con? I may write about the con, or talk about writing at the con, but otherwise? The two don't much seem to combine. (Do people write at cons? Do people sleep at cons? Wherever do they find the time?) What I did do, however, was ponder the latest story-in-progress, "The Ghosts of Water," which I haven't been able to add to in far too long. I was pondering and came to a conclusion: It needs emotional depth. Damn it.

I then spent a good bit of mental time muttering to myself about foolish stories that aren't content to be short, slightly gimmicky style pieces. Mutter, mutter. Which sounds silly, but sometimes you just want a story to be a story, or a short bit of writing, or a slightly gimmicky style piece. Emotional depth is hard. Emotional depth hurts. Course, it can make for a better story, too ...

Ah, well.

I suppose the really frustrating thing, though, is knowing that even with its supposed emotional depth, this one is still going to be enough of a gimmicky style piece that finding anyone who will want to read the thing for me is going to be damn near impossible. Of all writing-related things, this has been the one that's gotten me down of late, and not just about this story but others, too--the whole concept of my writing, really. I know many writers, the vast majority of whom are talented, driven, intellegent and interesting people. (Lucky me.) I will critique for some of them, and read and enjoy their stories. These are all good things. Yet there is a bad side, too: no matter how much I love someone else's work, I can't make them love mine.

On one hand, I know that I need to write what I need to write and let that be it. And yet it hurts to have people that I like and care about, people who I respect as writers, people who are readers, too, not like what I write. Not want to read what I write. I mean ... ow. I'm not writing just for myself; I want my work to be read and understood and enjoyed. And though I know that there are those people out there who will read and understand and enjoy what I write, I know shockingly few of them. (And most of them live far away, see me rarely, and are busy beyond words.) That's just ... ow.

And perhaps even worse is that there's nothing I can do about this situation. There's nothing that I could say, nothing that I can change (beyond who I am and what I write) that will make this situation any different. I suppose I can only focus on the witing, and not let the "ow" get the better of me.

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 12:10 PM (0) comments

Monday, July 05, 2004

I have survived my very first media con, Toronto Trek 18. Not only did I survive it, but I had a fantastic time. Not to mention the days leading up to it: the newsgroup Spiderman 2 outing, and the smaller newsgroup Canada Day celebration, and then the three days of highly-newsgroup related convention. I think I agree with John: we are less and less "the newsgroup" and increasingly a rather large, silly and social entity.

Despite a night's rest between myself and the con, I'm still exhausted. The post-con adventures were enough to ensure that I was wired enough when I got home that sleep was not an option for quite some time. Then there was that whole going to work thing.

I'll have to see what I can put together in terms of a con report; if the weather is as yucky tomorrow as it was today, then perhaps I'll have time during lunch. We shall see.

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 10:09 PM (0) comments

Thursday, July 01, 2004
Happy Canada Day!

It is sunny and hot today with a light wind--exactly the kind of day that I live for. I've slept in, then spent the rest of the morning writing on a new story project that I started last week, "The Ghosts of Water." I've eaten pancakes, and (after putting together a barbeque) had barbequed hamburgers and lemondade out on my deck. This evening I'm heading out to have dinner with friends and watch the fireworks at the waterfront.

I'm proud of where I live: my country, my city, my home.

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 5:21 PM (0) comments

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