View From The Glen

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Last lines from a book club

In case anyone was wondering what kind of book club I am in, I think the parting line from Melissa as we left her house last night at 11 pm about sums us up.

We actually talked about the book tonight! she exclaimed.

You wouldn't think that was such a rare occurance, being as we are a book club.

The truth is that while we read books every month, often when we six get together the book gets a little lost under the layers of conversation.

You know - weighty, important issues.

Or not.

But somewhere between that first glass of wine and that last chocolate cupcake, our four hour meeting doesn't always have time to properly discuss the very reason for our getting together in the first place!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


I have been fascinated by the media (internet, mostly) focus on Michelle Obama's clothes.

Riveting Stuff.

And I'm wondering why I haven't been noticed for my very own fashion sense.

Oh right. I have none.

I have 2 styles: Summer - where I wear a collection of navy blue capris, shorts, or skirts, along with a variety of white and off white t-shirts and blouses; and winter - where I wear a collection of brown and black cords with a variety of brown and black (and the occasional white) turtlenecks and sweaters. Those 2 looks, along with a pair of denim jeans get me from work to weekend all year long. Oh - and a pair of oversized coveralls for working with the animals.

And I'm wondering what Andrew would say if I traded my black pants and turtleneck for a fabulous dress/coat ensemble?

Probably he'd think someone had stolen his wife.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Kitchen Renovation 2008 - Part 2

Thursday, Feb 7, 2008

Someone someday will wonder what on earth possessed us to tear out the beautiful wide plank pine floors in the kitchen. I know because it’s the sort of thing I would say. Here’s why: There are wide cracks between the planks that allow for food to fall in and in a kitchen that’s a bit off-putting. Also, the kitchen gets so much traffic - kids, dogs, boots, dropped logs for the fire, not to mention the salt and sand and snow and general debris that gets tracked in on a daily basis - and the floors are beat. We need a harder surface. The tiler was round estimating and I think we’ll go that route.

Andrew is now pulling off the plank walls, and the lathe and plaster underneath, sending clouds of dust into every corner of the rest of the house. It’s a mess. Everything is a mess. The kitchen is a mess. We can’t cook. Thank heavens for take out!

Under the old walls we discover the insulation techniques of the 1800’s. There were none. Not one particle of insulation exists – it’s surprising the house stays as warm as it does, and makes that draft that creeps in when the wind blows from the east seem fairly innocuous. So add insulation to the list of things to buy. May as well insulate while the walls are down.

Kitchen Renovation 2008 - Part 1

It's the anniversary of when we started the renovation on the farm kitchen, which means I've been telling kitchen reno stories for a year now.

Why didn't you blog about it? I was asked last week.

Mostly because I hadn't started a blog then. But now I have, so for all those of you who have been asking, here's the low down, no holds barred scoop on what it was like to tackle the job, taken straight from the pages of the reno journal I took chronicling the destruction every step of the way. I'll post the blog in more or less real time (albeit a year behind) so you too can get a sense for just how long it took!

January 2008

The time has come the walrus said to talk of…getting a new kitchen.

Okay – I think we’ve lived with the old decrepit one long enough. It was dark and gloomy when we moved in; the coat of blue paint didn’t give it the boost we were looking for, and even extra windows – all brand new and shiny – couldn’t pull this kitchen out of the doldrums. In fact, I can’t understand how we’ve lived with it all these years!

But no more. We went ordered our new kitchen today. We’ve been playing around with the layout for ages, and are going to take the bull by the horns and get it done.

Young and sweet....

Can there be anything cuter than watching Anna dance around the house with her pink ipod, singing (loudly and slightly out of tune) the words to her new favourite songs.

And those songs are…? I hear you ask.

Abba songs.

“Honey, I’m still free, take a chance on me.”

And of course

“Dancing Queen, young and sweet, only seventeen…oh yeah”

Hey, I always liked Abba.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

In her master's steps...

Good King Wenceslas has never been a favourite Christmas carol of mine, until this year, when I heard the magnificent Barra MacNeils version, and found myself transported to a medieval forest with a benevolent king.

(Bear with me here - I haven't lost it - I know Christmas is over.)

I must have listened to it a hundred times over the holidays, but recently, snowshoeing, I was reminded of it one more time.

Apparently, the dog was feeling hard done by. After bounding ahead for the first half of our trek, she suddenly decided enough was enough, and fell in behind Andrew.
Page and monarch forth they went
forth they went together
through the rude wind's wild lament
and the bitter weather.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Get Up and Do Yoga!

I got a letter from the school the other day saying that the monthly skating activity they do as part of their wonderful physical fitness program throughout the winter was being cancelled because of a new requirement that all students and teachers must wear CSA approved hockey helmets at all times while on the ice, and the school felt it would be too difficult to ensure everyone had one.

I’m not against safety, but I did think that the current school policy of ensuring all kids in grade 3 and below wear a helmet of some kind (bike helmets, which most kids have, were fine) was quite satisfactory already.

I was taken aback by this new development which bothers me on so many levels, that I can feel the rant start to take form in my head whenever I think about it.

But what really bothered me that night was that I had strayed from my usual routine and instead of finding the letter at 5:30 pm, when I could have dealt with the bubbling feelings of frustration by doing something productive like cleaning the bathroom, I found it at 10 pm just as I was heading off to bed.

So I lay in bed, unable to sleep, which is highly unusual for me. The clock struck 11 – then midnight. I couldn’t believe something so minor was keeping me from my rest but there is nothing like a problem you can’t solve to keep you awake to the wee hours.

And as I lay there in the darkness I heard a voice inside my head.

And it whispered Get up and do Yoga.

I haven’t done Yoga in 10 years, so the suggestion came as a surprise, and I ignored it. But the voice persisted.

Get up and do Yoga.

It’s midnight, I argued with myself. But the voice was determined.

Get up and do Yoga.

I had to admit, there was a strange appeal to the idea.

Get up and do Yoga.

So I did.

In the semi darkness by the light of a moon, quietly not to wake Andrew, but not quietly enough not to wake the dog whose cold nose only momentarily distracted me, I did the Mountain and the Warrior – which is about all I remembered.

And then I got back into bed, snuggling next to the furnace I married.

And fell asleep.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Little Chef

Anna likes to cook. She calls herself Little Chef and is a whiz at whipping up spaghetti (as in the picture), other kinds of pasta, cupcakes, and gravy. She even invented her own drink - a warm sugar infused strawberry confection that she makes for special occasions.

Of course, I encourage all of this. With all the kids, not just Anna - although she has the most interest right now.

Shouldn't we be starting dinner, she'll ask. I'll get my cook book.

That was how I discovered where my Joy of Cooking had gone - Anna had put it in on her reading shelf.

She'll sit at the kitchen table, leafing through recipes.

She convinces her brother and sister to try things I'd never expect them to agree to.

She makes recommendations to her siblings based on a secret ratio of randomness, uniqueness, and how cool the name sounds, and then they write down the key ingredients on my grocery list.

We had roast duck one weekend.

Lamb curry another.

But much as I admire her willingness to try new things, the line must be drawn somewhere.

Let's have Osso Bucca, she called out yesterday, her finger resting on the appropriate page of the Joy.

Um, sorry honey, we don't have any marrow bones.

She looks pensive. Okay then, let's have...

There is a pause. I imagine her filing through a list of incredible recipe ideas in her head.

Hot dogs! she proclaims with joy.

Hot dogs we can do.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Thursday, January 8, 2009


We played monopoly with the kids last night.

The Clone Wars version - which meant I got to be OB1-Kenobi.

And I think it gave me an insight into the children's respective future money habits.

Erik is very meticulous. His money is laid out by colour and denomination, and each bank note (sorry - I mean Republic Credit) has to be laid down the same way each time.

Anna lays her credits out by denomination too, but cares less if they are all face up, or back to front as long as they're in the right pile. She also is very aggressive about making sure she gets paid what she is owed!

And Grace, well...Just add it to the pile, she tells you, gesturing to the wad of bills spread across the table before her. A total shambles.

But then, at bedtime, she was the one with the most property and if she hadn't insisted on outbidding her sister and buying a piece of galactic property at twice its value, she'd probably have had the most cash on hand too.

Except for me of course. I'm well known for being tight fisted - even with Monopoly money!

Stuck in driveway - twice!

I got stuck in the snowdrifts on the driveway not once, but twice this morning.

The first time was on the way to catch the school bus. Fortunately the kids now know what to do in a moment like this...


After I watched them make the bus, I sat and had coffee and waited until Andrew finished ploughing the lane. Then I backed out, steered to far to the left, and plunged right back into another snowdrift. Andrew towed me out with the tractor and I finally made it into work. Guess I'll stay a bit late tonight to catch up...

Monday, January 5, 2009

Finally Figured It Out

I love Christmas, and the 2 weeks of family fun before school starts back up (today). But there is one day over the holidays that until this year has always niggled at me. New Year's Eve.

Now I've been to some fantastic New Year's Eve bashes. New Year's 1991 rings a bell - we rang in the New Year at a military gala at the Officer's Wardroom in Halifax, drinking from an endless champagne fountain and dancing to a brass band. My best friend got engaged that night, and when we got back to my flat in the wee hours it was snowing and we danced down the street and round the block reciting the New Year's Stanza from Alfred, Lord Tennyson's In Memoriam.

New Year's 1994 rings another bell. I spent Christmas that year with family in the UK, and went to an old school friend's tudor house for the New Year. Memories of darts and ale in an ancient low ceilinged pub in the village, followed by a spectacular house party and an excitable spill out into the streets at midnight for Hogmanay.

New Year's 2003 was another good one. The first in our current house, feeling like we were finally putting into port. Surrounded by the gentle hills, rolling fields, and majesty of pine and spruce against the snow, we tucked our three children into bed, and enjoyed an evening of peace by the fire, opening the back door at midnight to let out the old, and the front door to bring in the new and marking the occassion with a celebratory kiss under the misletoe and a warming glass of scotch.

But in general, New Year's Eve fills me with a sense of malaise. I either feel I have to stay up until midnight and wish I hadn't. Or I don't stay up and feel I ought to have because it's tradition. But this year it struck me (I'm a slow learner) that actually, December 31st isn't all that meaningful to me. Any meaning for the new year comes on January 1st when the year is young and fresh and I get up in the morning and look out across the fields to the river and the distant village. It's kind of the same feeling as a blank page in a new journal - a promise, a possibility, a feeling that anything and everything is possible.

Happy New Year.