View From The Glen

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Highland Games

This weekend was the Glegarry Highland Games - a weekend of piping and dancing, competition and bands, scottish food, and good parties.
We spent the weekend there - pulled our picnic blanket, chairs, and basket of goodies up to the hill around the arena and watched the Men's and Women's Heavyweight Championships: burly men in kilts tossing Hammers and Cabers in the air. For Fun.

The girls had a blast running around the grounds, meeting up with school friends and generally enjoying themselves.

Erik liked the pipe bands, but LOVED the old cars on display. He wants one of these:
Yeah - I don't think so either!

Andrew joined us Friday evening and we watched the Tattoo which started off with parachuters, and then rocked the Fairgrounds with the massed bands and a celtic band from Scotland who were pretty terrific.

As for me, I like to listen to the pipe bands. They entered the field in a swirl of mist and sent a chill down my spine. Terrific stuff. Takes me back to my years in Halifax. We were there until almost 10:30 pm when the Tattoo ended with a fireworks display and the massed bands were the last things we heard as we hauled three sleepy kids back to the cars. But they were up bright and early keen to get back to it.

Another Games over, another successful year. See you again in 2011.

Thursday, July 29, 2010


Tonight, under cover of darkness, I went out to the garden with my Lee Valley pitchfork and dug up a big bulb of fresh garlic.

I admit it felt a little witchy to be digging up herbs in moonlight, but that just added to the charm of it all.

And it was worth it. Andrew brought fresh mussels home after soccer and cooked them in wine and garlic. We ate them at 10 pm, Erik slipping down to join us in our nocturnal mussel feast.

A little tast of the East Coast.

And the last I will have, for a week at least, as we embark on our 100-mile challenge. As of Saturday, we will be watching how far our food travels to get to our table. Inspired by my friend Jackie in Creemore Ontario, I'll be keeping tabs here and on facebook as to how we make out. We no longer live in Creemore, but there's no reason we can't support  and participate from afar.

Sadly, mussels will not make the list.

But wine doesn't count, right Jackie? Right?

Monday, July 26, 2010

So Much To Do...

...Before the end of the summer.
  • Hike on the Canadian Shield
  • Dive into a clear lake
  • Take my girls on a long bike ride
  • Star gazing
  • Family Fun Adventure
  • Camping Trip with the kids
  • Waterslides
  • R&R at the Cottage with BOOKS
  • Chase a sunrise in the canoe
  • Chase a sunset in the canoe
  • Marguerita Party at the pool
  • BBQ at the Beach
  • Highland Games
  • Williamstown Fair
Better book a couple of weeks off...

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Intrepid Explorers

One of the greatest things about living where we do (ie: the middle of nowhere) is that there is lots of scope for the kids.

I'm bored is a phrase rarely heard, partly because they know I'll make them weed carrots or something equally entertaining, and partly because there are lots of opportunities for adventure.

When they were toddlers, I'd let them out for a few minutes at a time without me, as long as they stayed in sight from the french doors. As they got older, I just had to be able to sight them from one of the windows in the house, and the boundary line was the maple tree and the Enchanted Forest, the pastures, and the fence in the back.

Three years ago when they were 7,6, and 4, on a pleasant sunny winter's day when I was spackling the kitchen ceiling and they were restless, we gave them a walkie talkie, set them up on their skis and allowed them to cross the field and back. We checked on them with binoculars, but the sense of independence and joy they got from that expedition was worth every second of extra time the ceiling took as a result.

And today, they are adventurous, independent, spirited explorers. They know first aid and safety. They carry water and granola and walkie talkies, and they explore. They make plans, make maps, and make forts.

And make memories.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Days of Summer

Summertime...and the living is easy...

The jazzy notes tumble out of the open window and here on the porch swing, in this instant, it seems true. Summer is easy - no need to match clothes for the kids for school....they toss on shorts over their swimsuits and are off;  dinners tend to be simple...barbecues and salads, and fresh ripe berries for dessert; bed time has more flexibility....we are often up until close to sunset biking or playing croquet in the coolness of evening.

In this instant, the living is easy.

But that is mostly because I have a knack for enjoying the moment and pretending there is nothing outside of it.

In this space, there is no half-acre garden to re-mulch, no weeds to pull, no flowers to deadhead and nurture. There is no hay to bale, no sheep to tag, no grass to mow, no driveway verge to trim. The mud room does not hold the remnants of a school year's worth of artwork and books and papers to be organized, and dressers are not overflowing with pants and skirts and shirts and sweaters that will be too small come Autumn and need to be sorted.

In this space, we are not planning camping trips and beach picnics, a week at the cottage and a canoe trip into the wilderness. We are not counting down the days until the Highland Games or the Williamstown Fair - must-do things in our summer. We are not still working, and grocery shopping, and heading off on hot sultry nights to sit at the site of a soccer field and watch the kids play. We do not have eight family birthdays to celebrate before September.

In this moment, in this space, in this instant, there is only the sweet jazzy belief that summer is, in fact, easy.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Week's End

I've neglected blogging this week. Caught up in a maelstorm of epic proportions, I have been busy, stressed, despondant, angry, sad, wired, and unfocused in quick succession.

It's wearing off now and as I sit with my glass of shiraz (thank you Wolf Blass), and get hand-fed ciabatta bread toasts topped with pate and chevre, I am winding down from my week.

BUSY: It started off beautifully with a business trip to Lachine Rapids in Montreal where myself my boss, his boss and two colleagues enjoyed the thrills and waves and chills of jet-boating through the rapids on a hot day. This was followed by an afternoon and evening of sangria and dacquiris, wine, crepes and cheescake on a shady, jazzy patio in Old Montreal discussing innovation. Not a bad start to the week really.

STRESS: Or it wouldn't have been if Andrew hadn't called to tell me that while he was haying, our mini van - parked on the driveway - had spontaneously burst into flames leaving us with one car. This might not sound too bad until you recall that where we live, one car is not an option. It meant for example that I had to get up early (4:30 am) to drive Andrew to work on Tuesday morning when I was already tired from my busy day in Montrea.

DESPONDANT: And then there was the feeling that I had bad karma - first one of my ancient maples had come down (last week) and not the van fire had scorched my Linden tree. Plus we just bought a new car last November because our other car had died, plus I have just finished paying the hefty deductible on a complete engine rebuild for the tractor after a rollover.

ANGER: Despondancy turned to anger when I did some research and found that Ford vans and trucks of this vintage (1999 - 2005 models) have had loads of problems with bursting into flames - problems that Ford is ignoring or pretending are unrelated to their mechanical specs. As a former reporter, I know I should further investigate these claims and not just repeat what everyone (and the internet) is telling me. And I will. But there is a solid body of evidence suggesting that Ford is aware of these issues and are not taking responsibility, and that makes me angry. We could have lost the house if Andrew wasn't such a quick thinker.

SAD: But when I looked at my beautiful trees, I could only be sad. I hope they survive, and think they will.

WIRED: Following all that we had to find anotehr car. Fact: I hate car shopping. I have no interest in it at all. But I was on edge because we need a second car. I let Andrew deal with it, my part in the whole thing consisting of showing up to pay since Andrew's bank cards (not to mention wallet, ID, IPod and Tilley Hat) were all in the van when it burned. It was a fingernail tapping week, waiting for things to be sorted out.

UNFOCUSED: Of course, finally on Thursday, they were. Andrew is now the proud owner of a VW Golf, and I have slowly started to let out the breath I've been holding. I'm tired and unfocused and feel a bit hazy. But it's over, the weekend is here, and next week will be better.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


I like to enjoy a glass of red wine on the veranda as the sun sets. The Linden Tree is in full bloom, the scent of lime drifting by on the breeze, and red-winged blackbirds chase each other in and out of the small copse of trees beyond the wild roses. The sights, sounds and smells of early summer make it a nice way to wind down on a Friday night.

I took these pictures on the weekend. My Linden tree with its sweet-smelling blossoms, hanging over me like a bower.

It's a bittersweet remembrance now. My van spontaneously caught fire yesterday. Luckily the fire was caught before it spread to my new veranda, but not before the heat of it had destroyed the vehicle and scorched the surrounding trees - my growing Ash sapling, a mature Pine, and my beautiful Linden tree.

We knew some branches would have to go, but today I noticed the curled leaves on the veranda side of the tree. Brown and fragile, the leaves and blossoms are just a shell of what they were, and I cry not for the van - which can be replaced - but for my trees.

There is hope. We may still be able to save the tree as it is not damaged all the way up.

But I write this with sadness in my heart.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Country Breezes

I woke up early this morning. Sunlight streaked dappled and mellow through the two open western windows of my bedroom, and the boughs of my ancient ash tree brushed against the house with a soft swoosh. Birdsong echoed in from the trees and the breeze drifted over me, bringing with it the subtle scents of wildflowers, clover, and freshly cut hay from the fields beyond.

I got my thermos of coffee (left by Andrew who was up and out before the dawn), tossed on shorts and a tank top, and headed sleepily downstairs. Despite a late night of fireworks, the children were up eating breakfast and planning a day of adventure: I can hear them now through the windows as I sit here with the dog on the veranda, drinking coffee on a breezy, perfect, summer morning.