View From The Glen

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Fucket List

The witty title isn't mine. Heck, the blog post isn't even mine today. But if you want a reality check and a chortle, I highly recommend you check out the following link to this blog: Motherhood in the Grove.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Golden Rain

I drove home tonight in the wind and was delighted by the clouds of swirling, chasing, dancing, burnished leaves falling in splendid abandon along the roadways. They were falling like golden rain.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Fall Reading List - Part I

I'm going to forego my usual banal tribute to Autumn to talk about something else that I'm reminded of this time of year.

(No, not how fall makes me long for a weekend in a log cabin in the woods with a fireplace and Barry Manilow music on the stereo - though it does, and I know that makes me a sad git who likes cheesy music , although when I mentioned that to someone the other week he said Barry Manilow was classic now, though he obviously still thinks I'm a sad git, but I digress).

And that something is Books.

This time of year makes me want to run off to the library, come home by way of the bookstore (easy when Chapters is just a click of the mouse away, and though I am an anti-fan of big box stores, I make an exception for online books which seduce me - I am weak, I admit it), and curl up in my big comfy armchair beside the fire, with the dog at my feet and the leaves falling in a golden shower outside the french doors, and read, read, read, read.

But being a bit indecisive at times, I never know quite what to read, so every year I make up a fall reading list, and here it is. Draft One. Bound to be amended. But it's a start.

Books I Own But Have Never Got Around to Reading
The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein
Books 2 & 3 of The Golden Compass series by Philip Pullman
Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortensen

Books I Will (Probably) Buy
An Echo In the Bone - Diana Gabaldon (this is more of a NEED to have)
The Lost Symbol - Dan Brown
Galore by Michael Crummey
The Children's Book by A.S. Byatt
The Golden Mean by Annabel Lyon
The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne
Devil's Brood by Sharon Kaye Penman

Books I Found In The Library Last Night
The Weekend Man - Richard B Wright (October, Clara Callan)
Candide  - Voltaire
The Scream - Rohinton Mistry
The God of Small Things - Arundhati Roy

Books Recommended By Friends
Katherine - Anya Seton
Sepulchre - Kate Mosse
Blink and The Outliers - both by Malcolm Gladwell

Books I Own And Am Going To Re-Read
Time Traveller's Wife - Audrey Nieffenegger
Outlander books 2-6 by Diana Gabaldon
Possession by A.S. Byatt
Here Be Dragons by Sharon Kaye Penman
When Christ and his Saints Slept by Sharon Kaye Penman (need to buy)

Books I Will Order From the Library
Generation A - Douglas Coupland
The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood
Cleopatra's Daughter by Michelle Morran

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Medieval Times

Anna is studying Medieval History in school.

Which was all the excuse we needed to practice a spot of swordfighting.

And have a medieval meal. And a joust in the back yard.

And wear flouncy dresses. Or armour.

Because, let's face it, it's not everyday you get to be called M'lady all day long by your kids, who insist you sit and watch the fighting from a seat of honour while they vanquish the imaginary enemy.

And because it's fun to eat without a fork - the messier the better, and it gave us a reason to bake bread.

And because wine does taste better from a goblet.

And because it was a beautiful day and I didn't want to spend it indoors editing on the computer anyway. We had far more fun, and I'm so impressed with the number of facts they all know about the Medieval Period. Most of them bloody and gory, of course.

The only note of inauthenticity came after dinner when I bade my serfs clear the tables and load up that most medieval (or not) of devices: the dishwasher.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Harvest Time

We all get to help out this time of year.

Potatoes, corn, tomatoes, chard, spinach, broccoli, carrots, garlic, onions.

It all has to be brought in and stored.

And then eaten. The best part.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Meet Amelia.

Does this look like a happy dog?

Didn't think so. What's the matter, Lady?

She's a bit grumpy because of this.

Meet Amelia.

She's so cute - scurrying and scampering and chasing tails (hers and Lady's).

(Lady: I can be adorable. I can be endearing.)

 Hard to compete with this, though.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Theme Song

My drive to work is 12 minutes along old fashioned, unpaved, country lanes. Surrounded by farm fields and forest, dirt paths and wildlife, tumbled stones and maple trees, I enjoy every moment of it, and since Andrew downloaded this song to my IPod for me, I enjoy it even more. I drive more slowly, just so I can hear it again.

In my mind I am not on my way to a corporate job dotting environmental "i"s and crossing innovative "t"s, but am off cross country with James Herriot and Siegfried Farnon.

I knew I should have been a vet.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Goodbye, Amadeus

We miss you already.

Saturday, September 12, 2009


There’s a new Jamie book coming out, and you know what that means…
It means I have a bit of reading to do.

I just finished Outlander (for, oh, the 100th time or so) which leaves books 2-6 (pictured) to get through before #7 An Echo in the Bone comes out.

The new book (Subliminal message for Andrew:) comes out on Sept 22 (should you wish to buy me a present) and is available online at Chapters right now (this would earn you some brownie points) for a 40% discount (not that I'm hinting or anything).

I feel I need to mention that I read these books for the rich historical context and the moral and ethical questions they explore. Nothing at all to do with the kilt-wearing, sword-wielding, battle-scarred yet still poetic hero. Nope, nothing at all to do with him.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Voice (Summer Night)

Driving home last weekend along scenic route #2 from Cornwall, the sun was setting over the Saint Lawrence River and the reflection in the water was beautiful. I, of course, didn't have my camera and probably couldn't have done it justice if I had. But it reminded me of a 100 year old painting I like by Norwegian artist, Edvard Munch, a painting I thought captures the essence of a rippling reflection (vertical yellow line in the centre of the painting) breaking up on the water.

It's funny how the mind works because when I took a closer look at this painting, it doesn't actually look anything like my sunset, and I can't see what it is that linked them in my mind at that moment. It's not even a sunset - it's moonlight. And in the painting it's really only a backdrop to another story, whereas my sunset was the story.

Still, it gave me another chance to look at the painting and made me realize that paintings are like books - you find something new and relevant every time you look at them.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Fleeting Summer

I'm not one of those moms who cries when the kids start school. Around here it's whoops of delight and joy that they're off and running and that another year has begun. In part it's because I know they like getting back into the routines and socializing that school and Cubs and Karate and Dance bring; in part it's because I remember loving this time of year, and even now the start of September for me is magical, as if the very air breathes promises for all of us.

If there is any sadness, it's because no matter how warm the weather, how nice the days, and regardless of what the calendar says, once school starts back up we are forced to acknowledge that summer, so fleeting at the best of times, is over.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Building Beauty: Forty Part Motet

Janet Cardiff’s Forty Part Motet is a musical piece of art that was staged at the National Gallery of Ontario’s Rideau Chapel. I have never heard or seen it, although obviously have heard of it, and something about it must have appealed to my subconscious mind as the other night I dreamed about it

It’s a relatively simple concept: Janet took Thomas Tallis’ 1573 composition Spem In Alium, a 40 part motet composed for eight choirs or five voices, and had it recorded by a cathedral choir with each of the 40 voices being recorded onto a separate track. These 40 voices are then played back through 40 speakers set around a room or hall.

It’s a deconstruction, if you like, of the music. If you stand in the middle, you can hear it as a whole. However, as you make your way around the room, each speaker gives a disjointed performance, proving that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

The artist herself says, "While listening to a concert you are normally seated in front of the choir, in traditional audience position. With this piece I want the audience to be able to experience a piece of music from the viewpoint of the singers. Every performer hears a unique mix of the piece of music. I placed the speakers around the room in an oval so that the listener would be able to really feel the sculptural construction of the piece by Tallis. You can hear the sound move from one choir to another, jumping back and forth, echoing each other and then experience the overwhelming feeling as the sound waves hit you when all of the singers are singing.”

But I particularly liked what A Washington Post article (2005) by Blake Gopnik had to say: “In "40 Part Motet," you get a shock when you realize what strange things go into building beauty. But also a reaffirmation of the miracle of art: Fragile human effort, almost painfully awkward, can come together into something worthy of divinity.”

Building Beauty. I was stuck by that. Because it’s kind of what my life is like. Surrounded by what can sometimes be harsh and often discordant noise (the third interruption by a child while I’m soaking in my bubble bath; the barking of the dog at an innocent leaf blowing across the driveway, the rattle of an overloaded washing machine, all of these at once, etc.), it’s easy to crave solitude and the peace of a white room.

But maybe the lesson Janet Cardiff wants us to learn is that together, all these things make a masterpiece of beauty and perfection.

We just need to see it whole.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Mamma Mia

I am unabashedly unapologetic for admitting that I saw and thoroughly enjoyed the movie version of Mamma Mia recently.

It made me laugh. It made me feel joyous and happy. It made me feel good. It made me want to move to a Greek Island and sing Abba songs on the beach.

I thought the critics missed the point when it came to the singing. I'm sure the director could have picked perfectly pitched actors for all the roles, but the beauty of the movie was that it didn't have to be perfect to be good. Life isn't like that. Life isn't always sung in tune.

And Mamma Mia was about life. About Kairos (to use one of my favourite ancient Greek concepts, referring to the qualitative nature of time as opposed to Chronos, the quantitative nature of time).

I loved it. And I'm still singing Abba songs a month later.

Full Disclosure: it could be said that I have a slight bias towards any movie with either Pierce Brosnan or Colin Firth in it, and this one had both, and if they could only have featured Harrison Ford as well, my day would truly have been complete.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Hay Fever

The rain was coming - you could practically smell it.
So Anna drove the tractor....
Andrew tossed the bales into the wagon...
Erik and Grace stacked them up....
And I did what I always do...

Gadded about taking photos - rather blurry ones at that! You try getting a clear shot from the back of a jostling hay wagon!