View From The Glen

Saturday, December 21, 2013


Solstice...the shortest day of the year....marks the real start of the festivities of the season in my world. It's dreadful weather out with freezing rain on top of all the snow we had yesterday, but that can't dampen our spirits. With my last day of work for two weeks behind me, I spent today relaxing. We would have gone outside if the freezing rain had held off....I fancied a day cross-country skiing....but settled for inside decorating, cookie baking, and enjoying the pagan feel of Yule. 

With the hearth fire blazing, the new wine from Vintages uncorked, and my family all gathered warm and visa and safe, it feels like the perfect day. 

Light the candles, bring in the greenery, and feast together, for,  "if Winter comes, can Spring be far behind." And since the answer to that in this northern country is "yes," then let us celebrate the gorgeous serenity of Winter. 

Monday, December 2, 2013

When December rolls around

The snow is falling and the fire burning brightly. The outside lights went up this past weekend, and we will put up the tree next weekend. The house smells of ginger and cinnamon, and the songs of Christmas are heard in a myriad of forms: piano, sax, song, and iTunes. The excitement is palpable.

For December is here, and amid the bustle of shopping and baking, wrapping and decorating, there is an overarching peacefulness. Best heard in the early mornings when the sun shines through frosted tree branches, sending glittery beams scattering across the kitchen; or at dusk, when the light turns pewter, and the world is hushed; or yet at night, when the world sleeps, the cats prowl, and the house sighs with satisfaction at a day well spent.

The run up to Christmas is best. Over the years we have learned to be easy on ourselves, to let the season unfold instead of rushing it. Living in the country, in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by trees and snow and sheep, and space, that is easy to do. And when December rolls around, I appreciate it most of all.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

10 Minutes

I don't get around much to blogging these days. I think its's because, although theoretically I  have less work every day, the structure of it is different. I am out of the house at 8 am every morning, and often detour to pick the children up from after-school activities at 5 on my way back home. At work, I am happily, blissfully busy...certainly no need to "find" things to do as a Professor - there is a steady stream of students and meetings and marking and class prep that I stuff into my day with any extra brought home for a Saturday afternoon or the occasional evening. It's a balance I am still working on as I  try to avoid bringing work home every day.

When I was blogging regularly, it would be this time of day. Morning. With the children off on the bus, the light streaming through the kitchen window, and the fire (this time of year) cloaking the house in the kind of pleasant warm a radiator never can quite manage.

When I woke this morning, it was to a heavy headache and a shortness of breath that made me think I'm getting  a cold. Lovely! I did what any sane person would do....I hit snooze. Twice. Then turned the alarm off altogether. Once, that would have meant a race to get the kids ready at the last minute, but one major benefit of them being 13, 12 and 10 now is that they are organized, self motivated, and best of all make their own lunches. So at 7:55 when I finally crawled downstairs, they were ready to go.

The crisp air revived me and by the time we gathered the recycling and made the bus I was feeling human again. One of the benefits of my job is that my hours are flexible as long as I am in the classroom on schedule. I rarely take advantage of that, preferring to get my work done at work when I can. But this morning, I don't teach until 1030 and so here I am sipping coffee, and enjoying the clear air, the spectacular late November view out the window, and the luxury of having 10 minutes to blog.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Dinner Parties

Oh, I do enjoy a good dinner party. Whether it is dinner for eight in the dining room, pot luck for 12 round the fire, or a snug dinner-a-deux on the veranda, the combination of good food, great wines, and excellent company always makes me happy. Whether they are formal or casual, whether I am hosting or a guest, whether it is planned or unplanned, there is something about an evening of unhurried socializing and eating that makes me happy.

Last night it was a Spanish-themed dinner party at a friend's house where the wine brought back from Barcelona set the tone for the food (Patatas a la importancia and Ratatouille to go with the top steak) and made for a memorable evening.

I just inherited a set of china from Andrew's lovely grandmother who insisted I take her settings and the silver plate cutlery she got as a wedding gift from her husband. She kept for herself a few teacups and plates, but moving into a residence, felt she does not have room for everything. I'm more of a earthenware/pottery person myself, but inspired by the plates, I am thinking about a dinner party. Crisp formal linens, four courses of delicate flavour, sparkling crystal filled with fine wine, Vivaldi, and good hot coffee with cream are in my future.

Now, who wants an invite?

NOTE: I have to mention, since my blogging is erratic, that I had to disable comments due to too much spam. I just saw a bunch of lovely comments and authorized them so they now appear, but wanted to warn you that if you post a comment (and I hope you still do), it won't appear until I physically go in and approve it. A pain, yes, but the stupidity of spam cannot be overrated.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

To my wonderful 12 year old....

Hair flying, eyes laughing, long legs and wide smile
Racing, leaping, running, flying
Saving goals with strength and skill
Bounding down mountains on the edge of a snowboard 
Rosy-cheeked confidence; self-assured, strong
(Kick ass karate girl too)

Peace loving ranger already against the next war
Friend to animals, the environment, justice, equality
Willing to go to bat for a cause
To stand up for whatever you believe 
I want to be on your side.
(Just your average superhero)

Big plans, big dreams, big heart.
Deep friendships and loyal sister, daughter, granddaughter, niece 
Writer, poet, speaker, critical thinker
Never change

Paint toenails, curl hair, apply lipstick, wear high heels. Awesome.
These things are good...just not as good as what you already have
Rock the world...continue to rock the world
With Kindness. Optimism. Intelligence. Commitment.
And a desire to make the world better

Never stop being you:



Love Mom xox

Saturday, August 10, 2013


"Come on in, jump in," is the chorus from lake-immersed children who have cannonballed  off the rock, while I stand on the edge. What they don't understand is that it is not the leap itself, but rather this moment I wait for: poised between two elements, the sun simultaneously on my back and in the water before me, the juxtaposition between the hot rock and cool water, the feeling of being on the edge of two separate worlds,  holding them both in my hands, weightless and full of possibility. 

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Road Trip

8 books
5 provinces
5 people
1 Westy
10 days
= 1 Fabulous Road Trip

Andrew and the two oldest kids drove out West earlier this month in an old Westfalia. They were headed to Sylvan Lake, Alberta for Scout Camp - the Canadian Jamboree 2013, and had a great week out there with 6000 other scouts.

Our youngest and I flew out to Calgary the day the camp finished and we spent the next week or so driving back to Ontario, staying in a variety of campgrounds in every province, and giving the kids the opportunity to see just how big Canada really is. And how beautiful.

Lake Louise

Canadian Rockies

Drumheller Badlands

Cheesy Dino shot

Manitoba Moose

Gitchee Gumee
The kids enjoyed the trip, though were happy to get back to Ontario again. Each province has something new to offer, some new vista to admire, some new terrain to explore. We had booked provincial parks ahead of time, but found that our meandering schedule made it difficult so we threw that plan out of the window, and except for the two end point of our trip (Banff - where we had a condo for two nights - and Lake Superior - where we camped for two nights on the beach) let ourselves enjoy the luxury of stopping wherever luck or exhaustion left us. This meant we got to experience some fun camping experiences, such as the RV resort in Manitoba where a pool and tikki bar were lovely surprises, and where the sunrise over the lake in the morning was unbeatable, as well as a night or two at a hotel, just because we felt like it.

Home now, and already planning next summer's road Labrador and Newfoundland.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Goodbye, my Lady

A sad end to our vacation when we got back to my mother and father-in-laws to find out that our old Labrador had passed in her sleep earlier that morning. I will miss her.

Lady 2004-2013

Saturday, July 13, 2013


It has been 20 years since I was last (and first) here and I am as in love with the mountains as ever. Driving up from Calgary this afternoon, and heading gradually into the mists of the foothills and then up into the winding mountain highways makes them seem elemental and natural; the rise and slope, hills and valleys of the Rockies.

Majestic and beautiful.

We rode up in the Gonola last night and watched the sun set, and then came back into town to eat and relax at the condo. We sat for a while and listened to a cellist playing on a street corner.

This morning we are going for a bit of a hike. Tonight, we are going to Saltlik, a fine steakhouse, to celebrate my new position as full time faculty that I heard about just before flying out here. And tomorrow, we are off to Drumheller to camp at the Dinosaur park.

We will leave behind the mountains. But will remember them always. Mountains do that to you.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013


I had much to do last weekend. But on Saturday morning, after fighting a losing battle with the weed eater, I had enough, packed my overnight bag, and took off for the cottage. Grace was there - staying with my in-laws for the week - and I figured if I was going to drive an hour and a half to Ottawa to pick her up, I might as well drive two and an half hours to the cottage to get her and enjoy a day by the lake at the same time.

Though I told her I came to pick her up (true enough), the honest-to-goodness real reason I went all that way was for one reason only:

To dive quickly and cleanly into the deep cool waters of the lake.

Standing on the edge of the rock, poised to dive, feeling the breeze, knowing the water awaits....that's one of my favourite things in the world. That slight fear of how cold the water might be. The knowledge that you are going in regardless. The freedom of the leap, as if diving into the unknown. It's like a metaphor: the known and the unknown, the seen and the unseen.

Love that. 

So I picked up my daughter, visited with the family, enjoyed a campfire, wrote poetry. And mostly reveled in the moment of standing between two worlds. 

Want more about the cottage? Go here for poetry or here for the water or here for generalities.

Or just enjoy the view...

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


The rain is falling; a relentless, pounding, ceaseless rain that hits the deck and the windows of this old snug farmhouse, and - if the wind is blowing from the East - sometimes seeps in between the old wooden casements. We're in the process, this summer, of re-roofing and re-siding, but for now the ancient, painted wood still keeps the worst of the weather at bay.

The sound soothes me; the rhythm lulls. I have thoughts jumbled together, past and present and future. Memory and illusion, reality and truth. It's all good, this kaleidoscope of life, turning and mixing, and creating patterns out of small things.

Tonight in the rain, random lines of poetry cross my mind:

"The moving finger writes, and having writ, moved on..."

"...the conjunction of the mind; and opposition of the stars."

"The face of all the world has changed, I think..."

"Once upon a midnight dreary, as I pondered weak and weary..."

Sad lines, hopeless ones for the most part, but I feel neither sad nor hopeless. Just inevitable. Wistful. Swept along in a current. At one with the rain.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Bohemian Warholism

Don't ask....

Cool though, isn't it?

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Weekends aren't supposed to be like this

Ask anyone who knows me: weekends in my world are generally lazy. Some gardening, some baking, some household chores may be necessary, but my plan for most weekends involves leisurely mornings with a pot of coffee and late breakfast, and getting everything that needs to be done completed before 2pm so I can spend quality time with a book or some writing or some other hobby. This time of year, that often involves sangria on the veranda, which is truly an added bonus. I don't plan any regular kid activities for Saturday or Sunday because I know we won't make them. We even gave up horse riding because much as I loved cantering across a field, it took a good three hours out of every Saturday morning. Swimming, karate, scouts, sailing, soccer, ultimate frisbee, even grocery shopping and errands...all scheduled in our household between Monday and Thursday (which, even typing this, makes me realize why I am tired). There are occasional exceptions for soccer tournaments, etc and family activities such as camping, hiking, sailing across the bay are fun and not included here, but routine weekends at home are meant for relaxing.

Last weekend, however, was an aberration. Grace had back-to-back flying lessons and soccer practice, my in-laws came for a quick birthday lunch, after which I quickly whisked birthday boy to a friend's overnight camping expedition, and his sister to another sleepover. Sunday was a scout fundraising campaign for our trip to Alberta this summer (and for which I spent hours making soup and sandwiches on Saturday night), and driving Anna to Upper Canada Village to meet up with her friends. 

By the time Sunday night came, I was exhausted.

This weekend, thankfully, is back to normal. 

Drank coffee until 10, are out looking at Andrew's dream vehicle (more to come), and have no other planned activities for the next 36 hours.

Unless you count this...

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


 Cool when he wants to be...

Apple of his great-grandmother's eye...

Fond of his sisters...

Even when they are pesky...

And freaking adorable as a kid.

Now a teenager. Happy birthday, sunshine.

Sunday, May 12, 2013


Watching a movie in which the tough Captain of the Guard guards over his heart just enough so that the viewer knows and feels his eternal love, but the object of his affections does not. This is a love unrequited and impossible, and just so very - and tragically - beautiful.

Beside me, Anna at 11 was in tears.

She is, apparently, her mother's daughter.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Should Know Better

I should know better about lots of things probably. But certainly, saving work done on a computer ought to be top of the list. But tonight, waiting for Anna at karate, I drafted a blog post on my ipad and then closed the app without saving and now it's gone.

So mad at myself.

As a result, if you want to know about...

  • my cathartic rant regarding attendance, assignments and grading at the college level;
  • how I managed to convince my son I am mad, and my colleagues I am hilarious;
  • my little hint at an upcoming diatribe on plagiarism and guillotines;
  • the AMAZING creative projects I have received this week from students who have inspired, surprised, and impressed me, and my thoughts on the value of independent projects; 
  • how I plan to spend the month of May now that I am primarily off work; or
  • the delicious salad I made for dinner tonight
...I'm afraid you are out of luck. I'm not rewriting. I might offer it up in dribs and drabs. But for tonight, I am done. Now....there is a glass of wine calling my name.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


Feeling great today. Maybe because of the crocuses poking through, the sun streaming down, or the fact that one more week of grading is all that stands between me and a month off work. I got out for long walks, a run, and a swim the last few days, and am waving goodbye to the apathy of last week.

I have to be a little bit morbid though because Rita MacNeil died this morning. One of my "comfort" singers, I have listened to so many of her songs over the years, and she's one of the handful of singers I've seen in concert. "Working Man" is her anthem, but I have a soft spot for plenty of her other songs as well. Once, new to Ontario and missing the East coast with a ferocity I never anticipated, I listened to "Steal Me Away,"
and was so moved, I wrote her a little note thanking her. She wrote back. By hand. On flowered notepaper. Thanking me for enjoying, for listening, for sharing. I thought then, how lovely. But I don't think lovely is right. It was just Rita. Just who she is.

It was my dear friend Carla who introduced me to the music of Rita MacNeil. "She has the voice of an angel," she told me, dancing gently to "Call Me and I'll Be There" in her sunlit, whitewashed apartment in downtown Halfax. Ever sentimental, Carla would well up in tears at the haunting opening vocals of "Working Man" - especially when sung harmonically by Men of the Deep. Through Carla, I came to know Rita and Big Pond (a place Carla and I went on an ill-conceived road trip where we forgot to book accommodations and ended up sleeping in her Saturn, feeling like pathetic groupies) and though I came to appreciate Rita for myself, her music is always inextricably tied up with good memories of Nova Scotia and lupins and friendship.

I can't bring myself to believe in Heaven, but just for today, I choose to believe it exists. In it, I see Rita, singing, and Carla, dancing.

The lupins are dead now
But they did bloom well now...
And please, God, if time's kind
And there's still a Big Pond
I'd love to go back there again.

Sunday, April 14, 2013


I am feeling, if I can be candid, a near complete lack of energy. Or maybe, instead, its a form of malaise, the kind that hangs over you not really stopping you from doing something, but stripping you of the motivation to do anything.

It's been a non-stop few months at work that have been quite intense. All this mental invigoration leads, naturally, leads to a fatigue of the brain, and at the end of the day, I often come home and want to crash, post-dinner, on the couch with the dog.

I can't actually do any of this post dinner, of course, for there is running the kids to scouts, karate or swimming, and by the time that is all over, it is already 9 pm. But this, so far, is not abnormal. Work hard, come home, relax for the evening has been my mantra since my early days in the workplace. But where I used to settle in with tea (or wine) and a new (or old) book, these days, even that seems like too much work and instead I flit through my I-pad, clicking on wonderful Twitter links and articles that are interesting but which demand little real attention. My ability to pay attention has diminished.

Then there is the weather. Even back in February, I'd be out in the evenings on snowshoes. By March, Winter has lost its charm, and the cold wind seems too harsh, the frost too sharp. Easier to stay inside.

So starts. Less technology, more books. Less work, more relaxation. Less laziness, more activity.

Friday, April 12, 2013


Ah, April!

Month of gentle showers...


Crocuses popping up and trees sweetly starting to bloom...

Fresh asparagus shoots....

Swapping winter boots for rubber boots; snow for mud; Winter for Spring...

Or at least, that's what it is supposed to be.

What it is not supposed to be


Oh, April!

(Think we've been spoiled in Ontario by a few good years in a row...)

Friday, March 29, 2013


1) tonight, we watched a mindless romantic comedy with friends. Our children engaged in a deep philosophical discussion about feminism in ancient Egypt, and then created a short play on the subject.

2) I have had too much wine.

3) played soccer earlier and will pay for that folly tomorrow.

4) Happy Easter...any holiday falling on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the Spring Equinox has to be a good one. Feeling Pagan tonight.

Monday, March 25, 2013



Sigh. Big Sigh.

I want Spring to come.

For real.

Tired of Winter. Want to trade it for some decent weather.

Last March looked like this...

 This March...well, I took this picture last Tuesday...

(But at least the sunrise is pretty....)

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Painting Montreal Pink

Back in October, a good friend of mine from New Brunswick called me up and asked if I'd go to a concert with her in March.

Sure, I remarked, blithely confident that it would be fine.

When she reminded me of this a few weeks ago, I did one of those hand waves, where you assure someone something is no problem even though you have absolutely no idea if this is in fact true or not. 

Montreal is not far from my house. (You have my permission to be jealous.) I can be at the shops of the west island in under 30 minutes, and downtown is a lovely little jaunt away by train.

Then I looked at the date. And realized the concert was on a Tuesday night.

I mean really....any other night of the week I could have gone into Montreal on the afternoon train, had dinner, gone to the concert, stayed at the Delta Centreville, and caught the morning train home again.

But on Tuesday, I have class until 5:30. And on Wednesday morning, I teach at 8:30 am. The train was out.

Regardless, I did go into Montreal. We did go and see Pink, a concert that was musically, thematically, and creatively absorbing. I loved it. And I did get to stay over, albeit with a very early start navigating the streets of Montreal at dawn.

We missed dinner because I got there late, and by the time the concert was over and we got out the doors it was after 11pm, and even the Keg had finished serving meals. Probably could have found somewhere, but wasn't sure where to look, and was disinclined to spend too much time wandering aimlessly that time of night.

But it was a great evening. Wonderful to catch up with Julie again. Wonderful to see a concert that seemed fresh and invigorating. Wonderful to be...for a moment at in the eyes of my students who hardly believed me when I told them where I was going.

Sunday, March 3, 2013


I will never, ever, get enough of the ocean.

Particularly the Atlantic.

I have an award winning poem about the rocky coast of the Atlantic, but I subdue the emotional tug I have for the waves and the shore most of the time.

But by far, my favourite day last week in Orlando, was not the theme parks or the smiles on my kids' faces; not the roller coasters nor the dolphins at Sea World. was the day we spent on the coast at Cocoa Beach. Playing in the surf, riding the waves as they crashed into shore, running along the was awesome.