View From The Glen

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Fat and Happy...

Every once in a while, something happens to jolt you out of your stupor. Today I had the pleasure of listening to Dr. Marilyn Scott, a professor at McGill University in Montreal, and she did just that.

Dr. Scott was speaking primarily about the plight of people in the third world. The hunger, the lack of medical care, the education issues, the poverty, the basic human rights. Nothing we don't all know already, but I'm embarrassed how little we really think about these things in any more than an abstract sense.

Sometimes I wonder if instead of making things real to us, the media desensitizes us. Seeing a refugee camp or hearing about one is far, far different from the reality of such a camp. The reality is equal parts hope and despair, and  no matter what you are doing or have done or plan to do to help, face-to-face, that reality makes you feel completely helpless.

We had a chance to speak to Dr. Scott after her presentation and  it turned out she also teaches in the environmental program at McGill. She was interested in Anna's environmental projects and we had a great discussion about the wall we are heading towards (in terms of environmental disaster), the real costs of gas and fuel (that we should all be paying....maybe?) and the technological intervention that may be required by the next generation in order to change things for the better.

It seemed funny to speak about extreme global poverty on the one hand and western society's glut, greed and excess (that contributes so much to the environmental issues) on the other.

Made me feel sad.

We have so much. And contribute so little.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Such a nice mother...

Tidying up the kitchen tonight while everyone is out - and may I just say that next time I design a kitchen, every counter is going to tilt when not in use to prevent everyone and their dog from leaving stuff all over every horizontal surface <end rant> - and came across this note which proves beyond doubt that I am...

...must be

...the most awesome mother in the world

...or not.

It's a chore list for the PD day they kids had off a week ago.

Along with my instructions to ensure the non-school day wasn't a total academic write-off.

I wouldn't want any of that mindless down time while stacking wood in the basement to be wasted.

Saturday, September 22, 2012


Tonight the rain is falling and I am happy and content with music and books and wine and the company of one delightful 9-year-old who decided against going on a three-day canoe trip to Frontenac Park with her dad and siblings. She thought it might be too much for her to keep up with them, and though I disagree, I can't say I have minded having the company on this wet and gloomy weekend.

We ate hot buttered crumpets and drank tea on Friday afternoon, before heading to a friend's house for dinner. Today was lazy until mid afternoon when we went shopping - an activity I usually abhor, and by the end of the day, remembered why that is so (crowds, lineups, general impression of bustle without real purpose) - and then came home to the simplicity of scrambled eggs on toast and a watching of Dragonheart which Grace likes because of the dragon, and which I like because it has a haunting soundtrack and the voice of Sean Connery:)

Draco in Dragonheart

Now Grace is in bed, Lady is curled up on her cushion after snagging the last sausage roll, and the cats are snuggled together on a chair. I am reading, writing, thinking, and blogging all while listening to a playlist that includes Elvis, Chris de Burgh, Roger Whittaker, Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen, Aviva Chernik, The Irish Descendants, Rita MacNeil, and Natalie Cole. It's a playlist that doesn't come out very often, but it felt sort of moody and retro and fit in with the rain and the overall lazy nature of today.

I hope the rest of my little family are warm and snug in their sleeping bags on the shores of Big Salmon Lake, and am kind of imagining the romantic sound of raindrops on tent canvas even while I know that pleasurable camping trips in the rain are more illusion than reality (though the kids do seem to remember the hardships with a great deal of gusto - we'll see how they feel about that when they get home tomorrow after a kilometer-long portage on their last leg of the trip!)

For me though, hearing the rain on the windows is just about right. There is something both soothing and calming about a rainy night.
Joni Mitchell Cover Both Sides Now

Monday, September 17, 2012

O Galadriel!

Thank you, O great Galadriel.

Without that morning offering
We poor humans would surely not survive 

At least, that's what she thinks. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

Welcome to September

Made it through the first, crazy week of September. A week where everyone is excited, where there is so much to get done, where we get up early and turn in late.

Back to School
It's the first year we've had back to school without it being a headache. All three kids are happy with their classes and teachers and the mix of students in their class. Erik started in grade 7 at the high school and has made the adjustment so easily, I am starting to wonder if he's the same shy kid or if some wood elves swapped him in the night. He even got up to run with me one morning, has decided to try both the chess club and a team sport (!), and is considering mentoring a group of younger kids to teach them Lego Robotics in his spare time. Plus he is taking the lead in organizing a canoe trip with his scout troop and working with the other senior scout to plan routes and menus.

It's a bit WTF but in a good way.

No surprises with the girls. Anna one of a solid group of grade 6 keeners who brings home extra math because it's her weakest subject and she wants to improve, and who already has the book read and the report done for the project due in October. Whose kid is she, anyway? Grace loves loves LOVES her french immersion class and took on the teacher's 80-item challenge this year - we're still not 100% sure what that entails.

All of that makes the first week go by quickly. I was at the college too, helping out with orientation on the Tuesday. As part of the day's events I participated in the faculty challenge on behalf of the Arts and Sciences students - and I got to race in a bouncy castle obstacle course, through a tunnel, around stalagmites, up and over a wall and down the other side. I lost to the Pre-Health Science department BECAUSE THEY CHEATED AND USED A TALL ATHLETIC STUDENT INSTEAD OF FACULTY and really, how was I supposed to compete against that, despite the roar of support from some of the students I taught last year. It was a fun day, though I ended up with burns on my knees and elbows from the damn bouncy course, for which there was NO sympathy on the homefront (and to be honest, if one of the kids had complained to me that they'd hurt themselves on a huge inflatable kids' playground, I'm not sure I'd have been sympathetic either).

On the up side, I was mistaken for a student by three first years, which made me think I should put my hair in a high ponytail more often.

Before the fun of orientation, there were staff meetings; afterwards, there was the fun of marking 650 post admission placement essays before classes started for real this week.

And now, one day into week two, and I'm pretty tired. Working my days prepping for classes, and my evenings editing books. It will get easier as the routine settles into place, and I am planning NOT to have to work on weekends too often. Got a weekend booked to see a play in Ottawa, a weekend to myself while everyone else in the house goes canoeing, a possible weekend trip to New Brunswick (hi Julie), another trip to Toronto to try and organize...not quite sure how the empty spaces fill up so quickly.

But first there is tomorrow evening - and the welcome back school barbecue/meet-the-teachers night.

Welcome to September.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Trading Summer for the Winter....

Friends of mine in Halifax used to sing a song called Trading Winter For the Summer, which was a toe-tapping upbeat kind of number. This time of year I am thinking about going the other way and trading Summer for, well, if not Winter exactly, then Autumn at least.

Mostly, I'm okay with that. Very excited to be back teaching again in the next week or so. Love the feeling of fall on campus. And while I do whine a bit that fall doesn't have the same freedom of summer, really I quite like getting back into a regular routine. More time for reading, for one thing.

So today we cleaned out summer clothes and got ready for the first day of school tomorrow. I'm transitioning slowly, and this week is largely orientation and post-admissions testing so I have a week's respite. But it seemed smart to go through my own closets at the same time as I went through the kids'.

And it's a little bit sad trading these...

 For these...

I'm still resistant. Just a little.