View From The Glen

Sunday, July 31, 2011


Splashing in the pool...

Lazy days at the lake...

Red wine in the sunset...

Daytrips with friends....

Picnics on the beach...

Morning stretches and coffee on the veranda...

Walks through the meadow....

Whiling away an afternoon with a book under a shady tree...

Leisurely breakfasts with the kids...

Line dried laundry and open windows...

Flowers in the garden and the aroma of ripening tomatoes...

Paddling down a winding river...

Sitting around a campfire...

Watching fireflies on a hot summer night...

Bike rides on Saturday mornings...

Steak on the barbecue...

Lounging in the hammock...

The smell of fresh cut grass wafting on the breeze...

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Wall Came Down

You know last week, when the kids were away at cub camp, and I had the week more or less to myself...the week I was going to read and swim and make gourmet meals in between edits...yeah, that week.

Something happened to it. It was hijacked by a random thought that I had on the Thursday before the kids went to camp.

Do you think, I asked my husband, if we knocked down that wall, we could turn out bedroom into two rooms for the girls while they're away?

The short answer was yes.

The long answer involved a pile of things to do. I had to sort the room they were in, tossing and packing and organizing, taking down beds and storing desks and toy boxes and shelves in their brother's room. Then I had to clean their room. There was no way I was living with a pepto-bismol pink room, so since we were moving into their room, I had to prime and paint, and then move all our furniture across the hall.

Next the wall had to come down. Enter Andrew and a crow bar. Our farmhouse was originally a stage coach inn, so his closet was once an old inn room. By taking down the closet wall, we expanded the room by 8 feet, thus allowing us to create two rooms with windows and one room without which will serve as a den/spare room. What he realised and I did not was that the wall was original, which meant lathe and plaster, which meant mess. I realised it as I cleaned up century old dust.

Then we framed. And drywalled. And mudded. And primed. And painted.

And by the time the kids were home from camp on Saturday, our three bedroomed farmhouse was a five bedroomed one and the girls had their own rooms. Small. Unfinished (they still need trim and doors; we still have half their stuff in our room; and the new den is appropriately named-it looks like something animals would live in because I haven't quite finished cleaning it out of all the debris).

But their own.

Monday, July 18, 2011


This post is part of Capital Mom's Monday Moments series. It also follows along quite nicely from my posts about Harry Potter.

In late spring, we had a Harry Potter themed dinner, rustling up recipes from the countless websites dedicated to this kind of thing. While Erik and I were out cutting stalks of rhubarb to make a lovely rhubarb apple crumble, he said to me, Mom, you're just like Mrs. Weasley.

I have to be honest, my first thought wasn't all that charitable. I mean look at the way Molly dresses! But Erik expanded on his statement: how we live in an old rambling house and there are always good smells in the kitchen and lots of food to eat. He mad especial mention of the pies (Erik really likes pies). And somehow in his 11 year old mind, he equated the homemade pies I make for him, the cobblers and crisps and the sausages and mashed potatoes, lasagne and roast chickens with the comfortable hominess of Molly Weasely, mother to (among others) Ron and Ginny and Fred and George.

I saw it for the compliment it was. And since then I've reflected on and off about how, actually, being like Molly is a good thing.

She's protective of her family, but not overbearing. She puts her foot down, but lets them go and do what needs to be done. She keeps her children on their toes and holds them accountable (We tried to shut him in a pyramid but Mum spotted us - Fred and George) without holding them back.

Molly doles out love and discipline and caution and support in good measure. Her children think she worries too much but they also respect her, and want to stay on her good side. She in turn respects each of her children and their friends and appreciates their individual gifts. Even when Fred and George drop out of school to start a joke shop, Molly gives them grief and then, having done so, stands behind them.

And when it matters most, she is not afraid to stand up for those she loves. Witness the cheering that went on in the theatres during Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 2 when Molly stares down Bellatrix...she is a force to be reckoned with at that moment.

So am I like Molly Weasley? To be honest, I hope so.

Friday, July 15, 2011

This Owl Just In...The Harry Potter Posts (#3: And Onward)

The one thing Erik missed out on is the whole Harry experience. Because he came to the books over a three week period, there was none of the anticipation, the lining up at midnight at Chapters for a new release (and, yes, for the record I'd have taken him), the building excitement over a new movie. He just read and watched and read and watched...

Until now.

The final Harry Potter release today. If this is news to you, you might want to get out more. It's huge. It's a phenomenon. It has gripped an entire generation, more than one actually. And finally, Erik gets it. He is excited. He is anxious. He has re-read the books. He has watched all the movies. He has seen the preview for Deathly Hallows so often he can quote it. He is ready for the final movie.

And I'm glad I finally get to share that with him.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

This Owl Just In...The Harry Potter Posts (#2: Fast Forward)

Fast Forward to 2008
I had all the Harry Potter books, standing stalwart on the shelves waiting for children to become as enthralled as I was. It didn't happen. My eldest - he for whom I bought the first Harry Potter, back before he was even born - read The Hobbit, Bone, and Scooby Doo. He was 8 - surely a wonderful time to start on the Hogwarts journey. But no. He wanted nothing to do with the books or the movies.

I had seen the first two movies, maybe the third, but then stopped. I had envisioned taking Erik to them, but he wasn't interested. And so I didn't see them either. To be honest, the movies never grabbed me the way the books did, although I give credit to the actors who all do a phenomenal job (full disclosure: HUGE Alan Rickman fan anyway - I swear I liked Snape because he played the part). I still wanted to see them, just not alone. Andrew had no interest either and Erik's younger sisters still were not quite ready for the books, and I reluctantly admitted defeat, enjoyed re-reading them myself, and put them on a shelf in the library.

Fast Forward to May 2011
I have nothing to read.

We've all heard that from time to time. Erik is almost 11 now. He's an avid reader and like me, a re-reader: Narnia, Lord of the Rings, Redwall, Star Wars. But he wanted something new.

Try Harry Potter, I said. I was working in the library. I handed him The Goblet of Fire, thinking the size of it would entice him.

Mom, he said, brushing it away, if I am going to read Harry Potter, I am going to start with the first one.

And he did. He finished it that day. I had lent out The Chamber of Secrets years ago and it was never returned, so I made a frantic call to a friend whose daughter is in Erik's class. He read it the next day. By the end of the week he was on The Goblet of Fire and we had watched a couple of the movies (1, 3 and 4 which were all we had). Within three weeks, he'd finished all of the books.

And was starting again.

I guess Pottermania finally caught up with him.

(to be continued)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

This Owl Just In...The Harry Potter Posts (#1: Flashback)

I can still picture the bookstore. The kind you don't see so much anymore. Someone with thoughtful and discerning tastes stocked it with a wide selection of books so that even though it was small and local, there was always something to intrigue me. I was six months pregnant with my firstborn, and while shopping invariably found myself scanning the kids shelves thinking about the wonderful world of books my children would have. I must have passed over Harry Potter and the Philospher's Stone a hundred times without a glance when suddenly the world around me went haywire. Harry Potter was being made into a movie. Everywhere people were talking about Harry Potter and I distinctly remember having two cohesive thoughts:
  1. That Harry Potter sounded like a stupid name for a kid's hero; and
  2. That if the books were this important (because even then it was obvious they were achieving market saturation) then I had better read them to stay informed for my kids. Yeah, that kid still firmly in utero.
I think the third book had just been released and there was talk of number four. I marched in and bought the first of the series. I took it home to read....and couldn't stop. I read it in one day. Devoured it. Dreamed colourfully of Hogwarts, so vivid were the pictures Rowling painted for me in my mind. And rushed out to buy number two.

I wasn't one of those lining up to buy the books at midight as they came out, but I certainly wasn't waiting for the paperback either.

And so my love affair for Harry Potter novels began.

(to be continued)

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Real World

The first week of summer was low key and full of possibility, then we escaped to the cottage for a fabulous week of relaxation (I did some work, but editing doesn't feel so much like work to me - it's so much fun), followed by a day out with friends at a battle re-enactment and rounded off with a dinner party at another friends where we swam in a lit pool until midnight and ate filet mignon with a lovely Cabernet Franc.

But today, reality hit once more in the form of piles and piles and piles of dirty laundry; a kitchen in dire need of cleaning after we were away for a week and my dear hard-working husband had to juggle mowing 30 acres of hay and work despite nursing a serious gastro virus that laid him low all week; and weeds that I swear were not here before we left but which are now three feet high. I washed, wiped, and weeded, saving tomato and basil and tomato plants as well as my asiatic lilies, all of which were greatly at risk from the creeping charlie and dandelions and one bizarre weed I don't recognize but which takes over as soon as I turn my back.

Got most of it done. Or at least started. Then swam with Grace and Erik. Then sat on the veranda with a Smirnoff Ice. Oh yeah. Now dinner awaits Andrew and Anna who will be home soon, and I think we are settling in to watch Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

Ah, Sunday.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Friday Reads: Cottage Reads

The beautiful thing about a week at the cottage is the time it affords me to read.

On Tuesday, I read To Defy A King, a historical novel by Elizabeth Chadwick about the daughter of one of my favourite all time knights....William Marshall. I know so much about Marshall, about his contribution to the reign of Henry II and his sons, including the Lionheart and King John, but did not even know he had a daughter until I picked up this book of my mother-in-laws that was lying around the cottage.
To Defy a King It makes me many of the historical novels I read are about the women, the women about whom we really know so little. Their fathers and husbands, brothers and sovereigns, we know plenty about them. But with the exception of great queens, the women of the centuries are harder to find. And yet, and yet...they make the stories richer, they give depth to the past, and they add a real solid dimension to history. I admire writers such as Chadwick who bring these forgotten women so marvellously, so richly to life.

On Wednesday I read Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy and The Castle of Adventure, an old children's favourite of mine by Enid Blyton that Anna had brought with her this week. A serious book club classic and a light lakeside read. I so loved Enid Blyton as a kid, and even now, when I see the similarities in all the plots and the rather old fashioned style of them, I enjoy them, probably harking back to my old memories of time curled up on a battered couch or in a tent by flashlight. I've always enjoyed the classics too, but it has been so long since I read Jude that the ending took me by surprise and I hated it, perhaps because of my own three children happily sleeping next door as I got to that bit. But the themes I thought were of interest. Hardy's views of marriage though causing apoplectic uproar at the time seem quaintly familiar today, but it was the themes of recurring patterns and the value of education that intrigued me most this reading.

And today, I read another Agatha Christie. Murder in the Vicarage. Another oldie but goodie. And have started reading Persuasion by Jane Austen, another book not on my summer list, but conveniently on my kobo.

I was supposed to be reading The Great Gastby this week, but rushing out of the house on Monday morning, do you think I could find it? Not a chance.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Time Stands Still

I wish I painted. Even photography can't always do justice. I'm at the lake this week with the kids, and we are spending our days swimming and canoeing and reading. And last night, sitting down by the campfire, I looked up to see Anna and Grace standing beside the cliff, the lake and trees and sunset behind them, and I wanted to paint.

The sun shone into them, flickers of light that encased them in mellow gold. Grace wore dark denim jeans and a yellow peasant top and Anna had on pink shorts and an aqua shirt that I would never have imagined together, but that really worked. As they stood together, their blonde tresses flying in the breeze and their tanned, laughing faces relaxed and happy, the rosy glow from the fire before them and a streak of scarlet behind as the sun descended in the sky, I had one of those moments where you just want to capture it forever and never let it go.

I had neither camera nor brush and they'd I'm sure be rolling their eyes if I told them how, in that instant, time paused for me, and I drank it all in greedily, ignoring the smoke that got in my eyes, the haunting call of the loons on the lake, and the deer flies (oh, the deer flies) that flew around my head looking for fresh flesh. Knowing I could not make time really stand still, I wanted, needed, to imprint it on my memory.

Two girls, with the world before them. And nothing to hold them back.