View From The Glen

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter Football

It was the Nielsen "Killers" against the Nielsen "Giants" at yesterday's breezy Easter football game. On the sidelines, fortified with glasses of red wine, spectators cheered indiscriminately for both teams. The Giants made a strong start, but the Killers had a couple of seasoned players who made it tough to make much progress.The dogs were no help whatsoever.

The game ended when the youngest Nielsen brought out bubbles and half the players out on the field abandoned play altogether.

Which was not such a bad thing for the other players who had not realised how much energy it would take to play against these youngsters.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Sun On Your Back

Tom Allen, my favourite CBC broadcaster (along with Stuart Maclain) also writes a CBC column, and spoke today about the government’s decision to close down prison farms. These are farms worked by prisoners to produce food, thus taking some of the burden off society and providing prisoners with daily work and some skills. Tom makes his own great case for why these farms should stay, and one commentator added to this by suggesting that the food could also be sent to food banks, which would ease some of their struggles too.

Apparently the government feels that prisoners would be better off learning more “contemporary” skills. Maybe so, but I don’t think they should dismiss the farming altogether. Living on a farm, in a rural community, I see firsthand some of the many benefits of an agrarian lifestyle.

For one thing, farming gets you moving, gets you outside, and gets you in shape. It’s physical labour, no doubt, and it can be tiring, but it also calms the mind and provides great mental clarity when, at the end of the day, you sit back with a rewarding sense of a job well done. Farmers don’t have insomnia, and they never wonder if they could have done something more productive with their time.

For another, farming is hands on and gives a connection to the land. To see newborn life emerge, to see shoots struggle valiantly through frost, is to see the wonder of the universe; to watch things grow is to understand the delicate balance of nature; to be part of all of this is to foster a spiritual awareness of the world around you.

For a third, farming develops a very strong work ethic. Reap what you sow is not an old adage for nothing, and all those moral stories you hear about the grasshopper who sang all day, and the little red hen, stem from the lessons of agriculture, and are ingrained in the farming philosophy.

That’s why farmers farm. It’s a lifestyle choice combining physical, mental, spiritual and emotional benefits: to feel good about what you have accomplished, to be part of the world around you knowing the impact of the choices you make on the land; and to recognize the primordial nature of what you do.

If all that farming provides is a moment of solitude with the sun on your back, a good night’s sleep after an honest day’s work, and a good work ethic, it is beneficial. But that is not all. Farming skills may not be “contemporary” or sophisticated, but with solid farming skills, you can always find work if you are willing.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Worry Serves No Purpose - but I can't help it!

Anna went with her friend Sam to an invite-only advanced screening of the new Hannah Montana movie last night. (Never mind that she has no clue who Hannah Montana is – or didn’t until yesterday.)

It was in Ottawa so Sam’s dad picked the girls up from school and they had dinner before the show as well. It was the thrill of going on an adventure, the concert-like feel, and the late night as much as the movie itself which caused all the excitement, and I can see it’s going to take her a while to come down to earth again.

I waited up for her, of course. Which meant going to bed at 11:30, not something I do very often on a week night (book clubs nights excepted). And the wait showed me one thing very clearly!

I am dreading the kids being teenagers.

You see, last night, I knew who Anna was with. I knew where they were. I knew what they were doing. I knew perfectly well they were safe.

And still I was unable to rest.

Sam’s mother called me twice – to let me know they had arrived in Ottawa and to let me know they were leaving. And still I fretted.

I couldn’t go to bed and just set the alarm because I would just have lain there worrying anyway. I did get some writing done, but it was a half hearted attempt as I was interrupted by all the what ifs, all the bogeymen of possibility, that crept into my head unbidden.

To be fair, I knew this would happen. There is always an element of fear whenever the children are going somewhere without me. And to my credit, knowing I would start worrying the day before she went and that the gnawing pit would not ease until she was safely home, I still let her go without outward hesitation.

Because I know I can’t protect them forever. I know they have to experience other things. I know I have to let go, a little bit at a time.

But it doesn’t come naturally.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

10 Books of Note

Of the books I've read so far this year, here are my top 10:

1. Drums of Autumn and The Fiery Cross both by Diana Gabaldon – Jamie, Claire – no need to say any more…

2. The Other Queen by Phillipa Gregory – This was much better than The Constant Princess, which disappointed me earlier in January, and I’d rank it up there with The Other Boleyn Girl.

3. How To Be A Domestic Goddess by Nigella Lawson – A friend send me this for Christmas. So much more than just a cookbook! I read it for the always luscious, often witty descriptions of the food, which is why I feel I can count it among my books for 2009. And yes I have used it to bake – I made my father in law the most ooey gooey chocolatey brownies you have ever dreamed of.

4. The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway –A powerful and moving story of the struggle for humanity in a time of chaos. Highly recommended

5. Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier – posted here

6. The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson – mesmerizing

7. Roughing it in the Bush by Susanna Moodie - theme of our bookclub was inspirational women, and I’m always amazed by the resilience and fortitude of pioneer women

8. The Splendour Falls by Susanna Kearsley – Battling with a cold, I couldn’t handle anything too heavy and settled in with this page turner – modern day mystery meets historic legend. Much fun.

9. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer - Can’t say enough good things! Set shortly after World War II, and told through letters, this book was heartwarming, poignant, enchanting, gut-wrenching, and above all hopeful, and I loved it.

10. Vernon God Little by DBC Pierrre - Disturbing, visual and jerky 1st person narrative that veered from the profane to lyrical and back again. A satirical bent, and a definite voice emerge, however there is a great deal of graphic language.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Bambi Comes To Breakfast

Look who showed up at breakfast time this morning...!
With her pal...

They weren't afraid. Not even of the dog who was outside barking at them.

(But then, she is only a labrador - not exactly scary.)

The deer wandered around, then headed into the orchard to check out last year's fallen crop before wandering into the field. We almost missed the bus watching their antics, but as soon as we started the van they fled gracefully away.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

But it's good for you...

I don't think it's too big of an overstatement to say that I detest the taste of water.

I don't mind it if I've been playing soccer or other sport and am super thirsty, but other than that I tend to steer away from it.

But it's so good for you, I am told.

As a gardener, you don't have to convince me of the benefits of water to life. I don't dispute water's contribution to overall health, better skin, clearer mind etc. It's just that I don't like the taste.

A cup of water on my desk will go untouched all day. But determined to be healthier and fitter by summer I've been toying with ways to increase my water intake, and have come up with the one mug solution.

Now instead of letting water sit by the computer while I sip coffee (which I do like), I simply wash out my coffee mug and fill it with water. Now I can't have more coffee until after the water is gone. Incentive indeed. Just three more gulps...and I can have java. Thank god.

So now in a morning I have 4 cups of water. Yes it's interspersed with coffee, but it's still 4 more cups than I was having before. And I'm drinking less coffee too Down to 2-3 from my usual 5 in a day.

Works for me!

If you have any other tips for including water in your life, please let me know - I need all the help I can get...!

For more tips check out