View From The Glen

Sunday, July 29, 2012

On a More Cheerful Note

I'm seriously depressing myself with recent blog posts that seem to be all about death and darkness...gotta get back to some cheerfulness.

It's been an amazing summer so far. And now that the peaches are ripe, it's only going to get better:) August approaches, the kids are back from camp after a spectacular week in the great outdoors, and we're off to the cottage for the long August weekend where I plan to do nothing but swim and kayak and eat and drink. I might even leave my laptop behind. Might.

I've had a poem accepted for publication. I have a full course load planned for September and I've very excited to get back to work (yes, I love my job). I also have a new book I am editing and a bunch more lined up to acquire. As far as productivity goes, it's been a fantastic few weeks.

It's been a summer of animals - goats, chinchilla's, Lucky the lamb (more a sheep now, and a bit of an arse too), kittens. And there is nothing like kittens to guarantee a good mood. They are absolutely darling and I just want to snuggle them in my jacket and keep them all forever. Not going to happen, but Gram is taking one, and we have friends and barns lined up for the others.

August has both the highland games and the fair which means it's a busy stay-close-to-home month. My brother is visiting from BC too, so it will be wonderful to see him and the family. They are dropping in here on their way from Toronto (where they are staying with my dad) to Quebec (where they are visiting for a week), and I'm looking forward to that. And at the end of the month I have the house to myself as I pack everyone off on a scout canoe trip for a weekend...a breather before the routines of September kick in.

The harvest is early and there is an abundance of fresh produce. Baby potatoes. Ontario sweet corn. Sun-ripened tomatoes. And those fresh juicy peaches...I am making peach pies this week if I can keep the kids' hands off them long enough to turn the peaches into pies. Mmmm.

Book club, swimming, camping, old friends, new friends...

All is for the best in the best of all possible worlds.

Thursday, July 26, 2012


Cleaning out the den this week, I came across an old bristol board collage my sister made for me when my old dog, Laika, died in 1997. I've kept it, unable to throw it out. But it was tattered and torn and dusty and it was time to let go.

With some sadness. Why do we hold on to old memories like that?

It made me kind of mopey, but in a good way. The pictures were nice to see again. And because I couldn't quite let go - it turns out I am a big sap about things like that - I digitized some of the photographs and made this.


Born in my arms, died in my arms. Best dog ever. But I say that in a whisper because Lady is listening and she's a pretty darn good dog too.

Lady of the Lake

Monday, July 23, 2012

Summer Storm

Storm Clouds
It came up suddenly, the sky darkening in a moment to a mottled black and charcoal. And the wind-oh my, the wind. The canoe blew off the rack and slid onto its side and the iron deck chairs stood solid although the cushions tried to lift off. The barbecue rocked - but we experienced a storm like that before and wedged bricks under the rollers forcing it to stay in place - and the towel I dried myself off in after my swim this afternoon blew away like a sail towards the rose bushes.

I love that - the power and the passion of a sudden storm. It made me happy that I had to run into the wind to put my bike away and lock down the gates so the animals didn't escape. There has always been something about a storm that fierce that calls to me and makes me want to go out running in the gale.

The rain didn't so much start to fall as drop from the sky in sheets of silver. Every tree and plant around me was bowed to the side and I had to stand solidly so not to blow away myself, rooting my feet right into the ground and really enjoying the feel of the wind in my hair and whipping against my skin.

Wall of Grey

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Hanging Out

It's kinda crazy how empty the house feels without the kids.

I'm not complaining - they're away doing a survival scout camp for a week, and are bound to having a fabulous time.

But still, it's very strange to have so much time to do whatever I want.

It's not going to be a slack week. I am working on the upstairs den while they are away, and that is taking forever. I have five full manuscripts to read and report on by Thursday, and have a round of developmental edits to start on a new book by one of my favourite authors to work with.

I also have my own almost-not-quite-finalized book of poetry to finish up as well for the editorial eye that needs to be cast over it before the end of the summer. Not to mention a Critical Thinking course to prep and and a brand new Introductory Writing course to plan for September when I return to teaching.

Not having the kids around certainly ups my productivity.

But I'll miss this. Hanging out with them in the mornings. Before the day really gets going.

Hanging out with the kids

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Road Trip

I took a road trip to Kingston yesterday, taking the long way there instead of the highway. It added another hour to the trip in each direction,  but there is something appealing about Highway 43 through Kemptville (with those cute roundabouts) and Merrickville. Every time I pass Merrickville, I want to stop in for lunch. But I'm usually on the way to the cottage and have a dog in the car and it's hot, so I never do. It's one of my regrets (but a minor one, really, in the scheme of regrets).

Driving alone, for many people, is a chore. But I don't do it very often - I nearly always have three children with me - so it's a real treat for me to be meandering down the country highways by myself once in a while. You could say that with the kids away this week, I've had lots of down time, but the truth is, at home, it's not quite the same. There is always something to do: this week I decluttered the storage rooms upstairs and worked my way through the girls' rooms (yikes), and had the usual editing and cleaning to catch up on as well as the chores the kids weren't around to do (more on that another day!).

So I got to drive and reflect, and plan a new story in my head, and the three hours to Kingston flew by. I even stopped to take a couple of pictures of buildings that have long inspired me - I am a sucker, apparently, for stone and history, and long shady verandas and small silent chapels in the countryside.

The Old Inn in Merrickville. Gorgeous. I could set a story here.

An ancient stone chapel that sits quietly at the side of the road. Love this.

And then I met my dad who was away boating with Erik, Anna and Grace this week, and it's always so good to have the kids back.

The ride home was much less quiet.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Set The World On Fire

There's a scene in the 1983 version of The Three Musketeers when D'Artagnan's father gives him advice about moving to the big city of Paris. "I know," says D'Artagnan. "Don't get into trouble."

"No, Get into trouble," his father tells him, and in that line there is the hint of what we all know to be true: that youth is for experience, for living, for throwing caution to the winds and enjoying ourselves.

I've been thinking about that recently, in part because the kids downloaded a song from the new The Three Musketeers called, appropriately, When We Were Young, and in part because whenever July 16th approaches, I find myself thinking back to a time 20 years ago.

Today would have been Carla's birthday, and while I don't want to come across as morbid or morose, I still miss her. And I think some of that is because she is one of the few people who knew me when I was in my early 20's, one of the few who might remember those years the same way I do.

Tonight....we are young
So we'll set the world on fire
We can grow brighter
Than the sun

Being young is about setting the world on fire. We didn't know that song, but if we had, would have sang it. For us that fire came from late nights at the Lower Deck; watching the sun set over Chocolate Lake; Saturday motor trips up to Harmony Lake stopping to pick lupins by the armful from Nova Scotia ditches. It came from ferrying across the harbour; big bottles of wine; feeding the swans at the Public Gardens while the brass band played. From navy friends new and old; from stolen bicycles; and stifling hot evenings on Carla's Creighton Street balcony in the bad end of town. From Friday nights at Weepers, Saturdays at Peddlars, and any nights we could at O'Carrolls Pub; from evenings of jazz and cheesecake, concerts, movies at the Wormwood. And though Carla and I never got into brawls or did anything too crazy, I'd like to think those years were enough for Carla.

Because as it turned out, they were all she got.

Note: A big and heartfelt thank you to those friends of mine - many of whom also knew me 20 years ago - who, after reading this post, came out of the woodwork and sent emails, tweets and comments filled with sympathy and reassurances. You ladies (and gents) rock and I'm glad you were part of my life then and now.

Monday, July 9, 2012

When I am 96...

...I want to walk down the cliff path to the lake to watch great-great nieces and nephew dive off the rocks

...I want to say that I can dive and swim too, and did until the doctor told me I had an ear infection six months ago

...I want to try something for the first time - like eat S'mores around the campfire and drink juice boxes

...I want to say, "There's too  much sex in this novel" and then not be able to put it down all evening and stay up late to read

...I want to throw the ball for the dogs and not mind when they shake lake water all over me

...I want to watch the fireflies dance before climbing back up to the cottage

...I want to borrow Jane Eyre from a 10-year-old and re-read the ending of a book I used to love long ago

...I want to fight over who does the cleaning up, and let myself lose gracefully

...I want to sit on the deck and watch the sun glimmer off the water

...I want, suddenly, to hear the cry of the loon, clear across the lake even though it's hard sometimes to hear the conversation at dinner

...I want to have pink toenails with flowers painted on them and wear clothes that coordinate

Great-Aunt Elvina enjoys her stay at the cottage

When I am 96, I want to be even half as active and interesting and easy to get along with as Andrew's great aunt Elvina, up at the cottage with us for a few days to escape the heat and bustle of Toronto.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Why It's Harder... get editing done in the summer when the kids are off: 

#1 - We want to swim in the pool; 

#2 - They keep asking me questions about some of the great books they are reading and I'm a sucker for discussion (and they know it). As a complete aside, I realize that while my kids are busy reading classics this summer, I'm into decidedly less literary books by authors like Diana Gabaldon and Stephen King. 

#3 - I have tie-died shirts to rinse, wash and hang and they want that done asap. They went to a barbecue and pool party yesterday and made these. Lots of 60's era fun:)

#4 - They are using my cell phone for a calculator and everytime Andrew texts me, they tell me, and that makes it harder to ignore (not that I EVER ignore texts from my husband. EVER.); 

#5 - Same as #1.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

In Defense of Laziness

I read a superb NY Times Opinion article by Tim Kreider about how our lives - and by extension, our children's lives - have become too busy. And how we are too convinced that this is good, that this is normal, that this is proof of our own important existence, to ask ourselves if it is really what we want. Among the things he says is this, which does sound like lunacy, but the very best kind of lunacy...the kind of lunacy you turn your nose up at and secretly wish to be true.
My old colleague Ted Rall recently wrote a column proposing that we divorce income from work and give each citizen a guaranteed paycheck, which sounds like the kind of lunatic notion that’ll be considered a basic human right in about a century, like abolition, universal suffrage and eight-hour workdays.
I think we probably all relate to being busy. It's a busy world.

But what better time than the Canada Day long weekend to sit back and think about what it would be like to be lazy and indolent. Even if only for a few days. What would that look like?

Have a relaxed and laid back Canada Day. Embrace Laziness.