View From The Glen

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Dinner Conversation

"Your family must have the most interesting conversations around the dinner table!"

This was said to me and Erik last week at the Zone Oratorical Competition as we waited for the judges to determine the winners. 

The speaker was a woman I do not know, who had cornered me the previous afternoon at a music festival (where Grace's school band got a gold medal) to tell me that she had been at the high school speech competition the previous week, and that she thought Erik had the most interesting, most entertaining speech there, and she couldn't understand why he hadn't placed and gone on to the next level. 

Obviously a part of the organizing committee for the oratorical competitions, she was now also present for the Zone level....the winners of which will go on to the Provincial level in May....and had just listened to both Anna and Grace (who had placed 1st and 3rd respectively in their school contests) speak.

Erik's speech the week previous had been a rather tongue-in-cheek approach to the subject: How My Passions Impact The World. He was funny and self-deprecating as he spoke about his love for environmentally hostile big trucks, and his ideas for making them more environmentally friendly. It was his first public speaking, and the boy was a hit with his classmates, but not, alas, the judges. 

At the zone level (same subject) Anna spoke eloquently and earnestly about her passion for peace and education. Grace brought a certain dramatic flair to get speech about her plans for developing a climate changing machine that could deflect the sun's rays to help mitigate global warming. All three speeches were very representative of the speakers themselves, and the authenticity shone through. I was impressed. And apparently, so was this lovely woman.

And we do have interesting dinner conversations (or car ride conversations, which are equally good for encouraging discourse). Geo-engineering was our most recent one. But literature, philosophy, politics, education, scientific discovery, and mathematical debate are often on the table with the stuffed chicken breast and spinach salad. 

And sometimes the conversation is a lot less highbrow too: alternate endings for movies, debating the leadership style of Darth Vader, coming up with funny t-shirt slogans, and my "favourite"....the seemingly endless debate over the benefits of fart-proof underwear. Yes. Well...

But I hadn't really thought about it until this lady mentioned it.

It makes me happy to think that this is part of the fabric of our lives.

Grace came in 3rd in the Zone Competition....she was the youngest participant, and it was a great showing for her first contest. Anna won. She will be off to the Provincials again. This will be her third time making it that far, and we couldn't be more proud of her. Of all three of them, actually. 

Maybe....just maybe...dinner conversations had something to do with it.

(Grace 3rd and Anna 1st with their proud great-grandmother after the zone competition)

Saturday, March 8, 2014

A Personal History of Downhill Skiing

Mont Tremblant, 2014

New Year's Eve, 1988....I had gone to the Junior Ranks Mess at HMCS Brunswicker for a party with my reserve friends, and somewhere around midnight, someone mentioned they were going downhill skiing for the day the next morning. I had never been skiing, so they insisted I try it out and tag along. 

New Year's Day, 1989....On about 4 hours of sleep, I joined Todd and his friends for a day out on the slopes, where they patiently taught me how to get down the hill in one piece.

January, 1992....Living in Halifax. New boyfriend. Did I ski...he'd like to take me away for the weekend? Of course I ski. Well, sort of. But that was the first of many ski weekends away, and evenings of night skiing over the next few years, and though I am not sure I got much better, I certainly did enjoy it.

January 1996...My first time meeting my now-husband's family and we went for a ski week at Owl's Head in Quebec. My mother-in-law was worried I wasn't enjoying myself, Andrew convinced me to try a black diamond, and what I really remember from that week was one of the deepest and most pleasant afternoon naps I have ever had in my entire life. After two days skiing, a good sleep is easy to find.
Kids at Mont Rigaud, Winter 2008
Winter, 2003....After years (it seems) of pregnancy and babies, I went skiing again. Or rather, we took the children to Mont Rigaud where we skiied and they tried boarding (except for the three-year-old, who skied with Andrew, almost breaking his back in the process). That was our pattern for a few years. Saturdays at the mountain as the children took lessons ("Sturdiest legs on the hill" was what they said about my youngest who started boarding at 5)

Mont Tremblant "Village", 2014
Winter, 2008-present...Downhill skiing or snowboarding for those hip, cool youngsters, has become a family affair. We often go to Rigaud, which is not far away, but on weekends now, can try out bigger mountains, and have tried numerous of the fantastic resorts and hills throughout the Laurentians, including a fabulous week at a condo in 2012 up at St. Sauveur where we went skiing and tubing.

St. Sauveur: Curled up with Dad after all that fresh air, 2012

February, 2014...We finally took the kids on a mini break weekend to Tremblant, where we had a fantastic time, staying in the old village, exploring the new, enjoying the gondola ride and an incredible view from the top, the invigoration of the long ski back down, and fine restaurants where the kids discovered they have gourmet tastes and were willing to try escargots, duck, and naturally top it all of with absolutely fabulous desserts.

Chocolate Mousse Cake, L'Hotel Mont Tremblant, 2014