Sunday, December 30, 2012

Inspiring read

This is one of those books that has been on the shelf a few years.  Do you have any books that you know you will enjoy, but somehow know it isn't the time to pick it up and delve in to it yet?  This was one of those for me.  I was skimming through titles, and thought - why not.  I am glad that I did.  This was a great novel, and I think the lead character, Kimberly, is one that will stay with me for a while. 

How to capture a book like this in a few sentences?  Well worth a read, and for me, I managed to finish it in a day or two.  This Christmas break has been good for me - I have totally avoided thinking big thoughts about work and the board, and it is has been great.  I think I needed to chance to just catch up with me, our life.  Outside of Christmas, our plans were pretty slim and it was nice. 

Back to the book, this is a book about a mother and daughter team that immigrates from Hong Kong to America (NY) just before British rule ends.  They are sponsored by the mom's older sister, whose husband owns a sweatshop factory.  This is a story of courage, survival, focus, young love, and shifting dreams.  Makes you stop to appreciate "stories".  We all have one.  Especially when you consider in Canada/North America most of us were immigrants at some point, strangers in an even stranger land struggling to eke out a living and create a "better" life than the one that was left behind.  Spend a few hours lost in this story, I was glad I did.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Time to read!

Merry Christmas!  The chaos has come and gone.  These are magic years with the kids, because they really truly do believe in the magic of Christmas.  Every now and then B makes comments about the kids at school, and then I ask him, "Isn't it better to believe, just in case?"  I am not entirely sure what he believes about it all, but I can see it in his eyes that it is magic. 

I took a leap and brined the turkey. It was amazing.  Best turkey ever, hands down.  We also had a local ham, and everything came together well for the meal.  A smaller Christmas, only 15 this year! Ken and I both worked on Christmas Eve, and my folks had the boys for the day.  I had a window of time where I wrapped like a fiend... I never got to my cards, and I never did get ANY baking done.  I have grandiose ideas about how to be better organized next year.  Although I think all told, things came together pretty well.

I am also going through my shelves and reading some books that have been kicking around for a while.  You know those books, the ones you buy for one of those days and then other more interesting books come along?  This isn't quite one of those - it was one I borrowed from a coworker after the yearly book sale.  It was good - reminded me a bit of Crightons books.  Big scientific ideas, the lure of big bucks, and some protectionism thrown in to the adventure.  A good vacation read.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Maybe in series would have been a better way to go

Brilliant novel.  Time and time again, Robinson continues to be one of my favourite novelists and I enjoy the mysterious yarns he weaves.  Very rich characterization, the stories have depth, and again, it is a great way to escape the day to day.  Although you don't have to read the Inspector Banks series in order, I almost wish I hadn't skipped around so much in the series just to have appreciated a bit of how the relationships between characters developed.  In a way I have been playing catch up, or plugging gaps in what I knew.  Definitely another great addition to the series.

Monday, December 10, 2012

I prefer my crankypants

I am not sure what I expected, so I can't really say that the book fell short of my expectations, but I think I expected more.  More what, I am not totally sure, but I think more autobiography.  Fey drops some great notes about leadership, however, I thought it would be a little more personal.  Yes, there are stories, but not really all that many personal details.  I think Fey succeeds in creating a somewhat humourous novel, with some real gems, and some really important notes about women in comedy... yet, for me, the cover still sticks in my mind the most.  Those forearms.  The justaposition.  I think I would have liked to have seen more of her story related with more details, to make it feel more personal rather than at an arm's length.  That being said, as a person in the public eye, Fey does a decent job at keeping a certain amount of her privacy intact, so likely a success on a few fronts.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Catching something

I start years off with such promise for my blog, and since I decided to start blogging (or rather listing and then making a few random comments) about the books I read, it seems that I have been posting more about the books I read, and then occasionally, when I have a moment, throwing a few thoughts out for good measure.  Well, we survived the first year in our house.  I am glad that going in to this Christmas season, it doesn't feel as totally hectic as last year's did.  Moving, and setting up house, and figuring out all new routines... glad that is starting to move in to the past. 

Our community seems to suit us - we are getting out for more walks, and experiencing more of the local flavours (blueberries, Christmas trees, little festivals) than we really did in our previous community.  Our lights are up (I suspect we will never have enough lights.  I foresee a future in which my DH buys a few extra strings every year until we get a computer program to have the lights dance to music).  Our tree is up, and the lights are on.  My pop would be proud - it isn't a bushy, trimmed up Douglas Fir.  Rather, we have a Nordman Fir.  I must say, I like it.  It doesn't quite smell as much as some trees, and it hasn't dropped as many needles either.  We already have hundreds of lights on the tree, and tomorrow night we will finish decorating our masterpiece.  Our tree is tall, and you can see through it, and the branches are strong.  Totally different tree experience. 

We are having our first Christmas dinner next weekend, so we are getting ready a few weeks earlier than normal.  It's strange though - we are pretty much set.  Maybe a few more gifts to get, and all in all, pretty close to done.  I have no idea when I will get to my baking.  I have moved almost completely to spelt (a wheat post will be a different post when I actually sit down to talk about it) so it has been enlightening to see how it cooks up in recipes.  All in all, not that much different than whole wheat! I also want to get cards done again this year, although somehow December 3rd is already upon us and time is marching forward!  Weekends are too short.  Nights too short.  Work days too long!

At three, our wee guy seems to be craving attention in all the wrong ways.  He also hasn't quite grasped the concept of the advent calendar.  B, is overall doing well, but seems to be in a classroom that I wouldn't call the perfect fit.  We get to meet tomorrow to discuss strategies to help him engage in different ways with his classmates.  Interesting comment from the teacher - they want him to be resilient when it comes to kids, because there are some kids that aren't big fans of his in the class.  I am tempted to give a piece of mind of how I view resilience, and what he brings to the table.  Then again, our experience is not the usual one, and I am going to challenge the team about the environment they are also creating, in which some behaviours are unique to the setting since I am not getting complaints from daycare!  Some behaviours present opportunities for B to grow, and figure out how he wants to present himself.  Ah yes, the ongoing struggle for self.  I am still a work in progress myself!

Another odd book coincidence

This was a book I stumbled across a few weeks ago when I was looking for books to recommend for my book club.  It looked intriguing.  If the Fall started out with books with ties to the circus, it is ending with books with ties to WWII and the war in the Pacific.

This is truly a bitter and sweet book, and I read it in less than four days.  It has been months since I have managed to make it through a book that quickly!  I really enjoyed this book.  A completely different coming of age novel set against 1942 and 1986 Seattle.  The time structure works, and coming after a book like Unbroken, was another slice of what life during WWII was like on the west coast.  It is amazing what history can gloss over, and what isn't taught in school, and what is revealed because you love to read.  This is a great story, I was thoroughly caught up in the love story between Henry, a first generation American Chinese, and Keiko, a second generation American Japanese, caught up between several old and new worlds, during wartime.  I enjoyed the characters, I enjoyed seeing a different side of Seattle, and I enjoyed the historical lesson.  I certainly look at parts of the Pacific Northwest slightly differently now, and this is another book that will likely make my most memorable reads of the year list.  Dive in!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Surprising tale

 I picked this one up at Costco a few years ago because it was the right price and the cover intrigued me.  Not that I have read Seabiscuit, or seen the movie, but something about this book caught my eye.  Then it sat on the shelf, waiting for the right time.  Funny how some books are like that - some you can't wait to dive right in to, and others, well, you almost have to wait for that right time to take a go at it.

This is one that will stick with me, and I have already recommended to a few people.  This wasn't what I expected - it is more like non fiction, since it is based on the life of Louis Zamperinelli.  What a story of survival - I always say life comes down to attitude, and that is exactly what this book is about - courage in the face of absolute disaster.  This is a side of WWII I don't know as much about - the war in the pacific.  Louis is many things, and this book mainly tells of how WWII experiences as a gunner in a Liberator, his experiences getting shot down, surviving being adrift in the endless Pacific Ocean, surviving Japanese POW camps, a return to normalcy, and failure, and then forgiveness and moving forward.  Well worth picking up this book.  It is one that will stick with you and makes you wish you could sit down and just listen to this fellow tell stories, if he was so willing.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

And now, something different

If I blazed a path through books at the beginning of the year, I certainly have not done so this fall.  To say that I have been busy, feeling overwhelmed at times, learned a lot, is an understatement to say the least.

I wish I would have read more of this book in fewer settings.  I was able to read the last 75 pages over the weekend, but it was weeks of reading a few pages here and there.  This is one I will want to read again when I have a  little more energy and less on my plate.  A totally "novel" concept.  A mystery that delves a bit in to the paranormal, and a real escape from the same old, same old.  Some of the characters were frustrating at times, but they were crafted that way.  If you are looking for something different, this is a good choice!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Hard luck story with Heart

The magic of looking over your shoulder and updating at least the books you have been reading with the touch of a few numbers in the date setting feature.

This was our book club book for the month of October.  Ironically enough, we are still somewhat on the circus theme, albeit on a different page.  I found that the first part of this book was harder to get through - it is a down-on-your-luck story to begin with, and a darker portrait of North America.  The story shifts and turns, and although it doesn't resolve in to a completely happy ending, this was a good book.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A Shakespearean something

This book took me weeks to finish.  When I searched for a picture to import, I cruised through a few reviews of this book that do a far better job of deconstructing the whys this book missed the mark than I will aim to do in the next few paragraphs.

As someone that read quite a bit of Shakespeare in my undergrad, I found myself drawn in to this novel.  However, I found that it was trying to hard to be the Da Vinci Code for Shakespeare.  There was a wake of bodies that Kate leaves behind her, and there were so many competing threads, past and present, that I really found this book hard to get through.  Some history, some theatre, some plot twists... parts are interesting, partly I stopped caring about some of the characters, now that I am done, I am quite relieved to be moving on to the next book.  It felt like I  had 100 pages left for a long, long time. I was so tired at night most of last week I was lucky to get through 5 pages before I had to put it down and close my eyes!  I asked my dear friend that passed this book to me if she had read the second one, and she answered no.  I suspect I know why now! LOL

On a total aside, I think I will officially have to retire my black flats after today.  Nothing worse than when a favourite pairs of shoes cracks along the bottom and then the pieces start to pull apart.  I have also been using "notes" on my iphone to make daily lists this week.  It is helping me feel  like I am at least making progress with my things I want/need to get done, but it just seems like that list is getting longer rather than shorter.  I am not quite sure why everything seems to be so busy this fall, but it is.  I have a week off in November, and I cannot wait.  This has been a SLOG.

Underlying this has been almost an overwhelming feeling - of expectations, of things to do, of battles to fight.  I had a meeting at B's school yesterday and I must admit that I left feeling emotionally manipulated.  I was told by the principle they wanted me to leave mad so I would advocate and move towards action, but I could have already told them that I was more than prepared to do so and didn't need the game to be played out at my expense. To say the least.  I am almost at a loss for words to describe how I feel.  Needless to say, in a nutshell, B is not getting the services he should have at this point, and I will have to fight for them through the local school board.  It is so brutal.  These are not the battles I expected to fight along the way.  Once I left the meeting, I just wanted to run and hide and cry.  I wish I could cry easier - it would make moments like that easier to have that release.  I then had to pull it all together and head back to work.  Working full-time and trying to balance everything is such an art.  An art I don't always feel like I have.  Hence, I am grateful this week for the notes function, so I can start listing all the bits of things that I need to get done so I can actually keep track of it all.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Fueled by joe

Thank you, flavourful cup of joe.  I used to be proud I would only have one cup a day, albeit a very large cup.  Now, with my longer commute, slightly aging self, I have that first cup, and then a cup in the car for the drive in.  I have learned that I don't really need a mocha or a latte anymore... I just enjoy a good, hot cup of coffee with some cream in it.  Forget the skim milk, it does make a difference.  Yes, it is cream.. but I figure a few tablespoons isn't really going to hurt the old waistline compared to the lattes I was slurping back.

A few years ago I started getting up early so I could spend some time on the couch in the mornimg with my DH without the kids, and to have my cuppa joe.  When I used to commute with my mom, I can't tell you how many times I ended up with coffee down my blouse...not all that good of a look when you favour the white shirt.  Speed forward, commuting with the kids and being the driver.. I don't spill.  Hence, not only have I discovered cream (or half and half) rocks, but being the driver means you don't spill because you can anticipate hitting those bumps and adjusting for it.  The weird random things we pick up along the way in this journey called life.

I also must say, I am loving this fall.  The weather has been awesome.  Yesterday it was the perfect temperature to go for a walk - not too hot, not too cold.  A hint of a breeze, and the trees just starting to turn.  I am parking in a farther parking lot to save some $$ and to see what will work for drop offs and picking up the kids... although it adds some time to my day, I have been appreciating getting out for a walk... we will see when this good weather changes and the rains start again if I still feel the same way.  Speaking of which, this month is blasting by.  Hard to believe that was September and this is October.  September finished in ways I didn't anticipate, but I think it will be for all the best.  Now we are in October - month of Thanksgiving and Halloween, and again, we get at least a date night this month! YAY!!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

a different story

I bought this book a few years ago and it has been sitting on my shelf.  I wasn't quite sure what to make of it, and I think I bought it on a lark because it was Canadian literature.  I can't really say what drew me to pick up the book (sale, perhaps?), or why I have held on to it for years without reading it, but I finally took the plunge and picked it up.

Now I am kicking myself I didn't pick it up years ago.  Hodgins is a wonderful writer, and his prose is a delight.  Broken Ground is a story about a returning soldier's settlement on Vancouver Island shortly after the close of WWI.  This isn't your average tale of the great war, and I found it very profound at times how the "broken ground" reflected the broken lives of the soldiers as they came from all over Canada to this community on the wild west coast and tried to carve out a new life.  Through this novel is the thread of hope, of creating a new life, of the ghosts of the past.  Lives are perfect, and the characters are quite compelling.  At times I found the narrative a bit hard to follow in terms of characters (the narrative voice shifts chapter to chapter between residents of the settlement), but once I caught on, it was fine.  I found that the end wrapped up almost too quickly, however, this is a great read - however, not really a quick read.  I will most certainly read more of Hogkins writing.  I feel a bit naive - here I am trying to read more local literature and here is a very accomplished BC writer that I was totally oblivious too. 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

It feels like miles to go..

September is storming past me.  I cannot believe how fast these three weeks have flown by.

These have been hard fought weeks.  Work has been so busy.  I was trying for a new job, I didn't get it, but I do get to make a really positive sideways move that should really work out.  So, from this lemon, I can make some margaritas.  I blew my transmission the other day on the way to work.  At least I didn't have my kids in the car, and I wasn't heading up the hill (small miracle), I was heading to my alternate location.  If I am able to successfully shake the money tree, time for more margaritas.

We have successfully transitioned both kids up on the hill for their new locations.  B is a happy grade 1, and C seems to really enjoy it up here.  Except I now drop him off in the morning.  If I get a really happy kid in the afternoon, I am leaving behind a kid with tears streaming down his face, breaking his mom's heart because I have to leave him to go to work.  Nothing like sitting in your car, trying to compose yourself because you have to go in to work and pretend it is easy to be constantly on the go and you know your child will be okay when they can no longer see you. I will admit it, I have called a few times and I can hear him happily playing away, but I still have to pull myself together after.

The weather has been amazing - we got out camping last weekend.  It was great... except we made a bunch of rookie mistakes.  You know, things like killing your battery trying to blow up your inflatable mattress, running out of propane, not having jumper cables, and then not bringing the goods for breakfast because you figured you would just do that first thing in the morning.  Rookies.  Camping was great - the boys were in their glory, and it was so nice to be outside.  The campfire, watching the sun set, doing something different.

I think I have been feeling a bit frayed, and I can hear it in my voice at times.  I need to deep breathe, practice patience, and spend enough time with my loved ones.  I also need to find more time to watch some sunsets too.


I have been thinking about this poem (see below) lately.  I loved it when I first read it as a kid, and now, as an adult, I see something different (no less compelling in it) within the poem.  A timeless emotion captured here:

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

By Robert Frost 1874–1963 Robert Frost

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Robert Frost, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” from The Poetry of Robert Frost, edited by Edward Connery Lathem. Copyright 1923, © 1969 by Henry Holt and Company, Inc., renewed 1951, by Robert Frost. Reprinted with the permission of Henry Holt and Company, LLC.

Source: The Random House Book of Poetry for Children (1983)



Thursday, September 13, 2012

Light and very fluffy.


 I am going to make my life easy, and lump this series in one.  I just finished reading all three books in this series, Charmed and Dangerous, Charmed and Deadly, and Charmed and Ready.  I will not post all three book covers because blogger just isn't formatting it nicely for me.

If you are looking for a total, different kind of escape, this is the series for you.  I read all three in a week (can't remember the last time I did that) and they were fun.  They were light, amusing, and nothing really all that intellectually stimulating.  For semester start up when my life is totally crazy and I have to answer way too many questions all the time.... perfect. 

I would recommend this series if you are looking for a light and funny escape.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Welcome back, Inspector Banks!

Well, this time around I am not all that keen on massaging my timeline so my recent reads appear more or less about the time that I completed them.  If I get my way, I will complete a whole bunch of posts today and get more or less caught up.  This of course is a lofty goal because it is September, and life is busy.

I got to meet PR at a recent Writer's Festival.  What a lovely man, and a great writer.  I loved that he was signing his books with a dram of whiskey on the table beside him!  Although I am now spoiled for lesser writers in this genre.  Yesterday I tried a Reichs that I hoped I hadn't already read, and I got about three pages in and I couldn't do it.  I really loved her writing when I first got in to the crime novels, but they just don't do it for me anymore.  The story lines just don't seem to be going forward enough for me, and seem a bit something (lacking, perhaps?).  That being said, I almost wish PRs story lines didn't have Inspector Banks aging through the cases because eventually he will end up "retiring", so to speak!

This was another great addition to the series, and it was a treat to hear PR tell some of his stories around the writing of this book.  The location was also a bonus (Sunshine Coast), as was the company I was keeping at the time.  All in a all a satisfying read.  The only drawback is that again I must wait while PR gets busy and writes more books! (although there are a few in the series I haven't read, but I am trying to space them out)

Adventure time

A month has blasted past and I have a stockpile of books that are backlogged to make comments about.  This is where I tell you, my devoted reader, that I have crafted some prolific posts in my head.  Unfortunately, with semester start up and both kids transitioning in care and school, those posts have evaporated.

Alas! Alack! Here we go anyways.  This was a surprisingly good read.  If you want a swashbuckling adventure story that pretty much started the genre out 140 odd years ago, this is your story.  I would say many an action movie, or lost world movie/book owes a few nods in this books direction.  I wasn't all too sure of it when I started out, but this was a good read.  For it's time, I couldn't help but compare it to Agatha Christie's, And then they were none.    AC's is a book that has been sterilized over time because of the controversial word choices and how certain peoples were described.  In this book, the author chooses to tell us, the reader, that he will refuse to use the term (use your imagination here) because it is not respectful and does not denote the wonderful people that he has met.  Interesting comparison considering this book was written in the 1890s and AC was more turn of the century.  Attitudes have never been uniform.  KSM also includes a biracial love story, which I feel is pretty ballsy considering the time.  That this relationship is not able to be truly consummated, it is painted in very respectful terms. 

I like that this was an adventure story, looking for that lost city of gold in the middle of nowhere.  In an era of gold rushes, and the world shrinking, this would have been a timely novel.  I like that some social conventions are bucked, and that all ends well enough. One of these days I will have to search out some of the classic movies inspired by this tale and see if they measure up.  Either that, or time to watch Indiana again.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Missing Gospel

A few months ago we read a travelogue (The sex lives of cannibals) and in a way, I kind of expected it to be like this book.  Not in terms of content, but I was expecting something that could be laugh out loud funny, with researched undertones.  I found the former to be bit of a let down, and this book was a really pleasant surprise.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  In some ways, it ended too soon for my liking, and even the epilogue wrapped up too quickly.  I am familiar with the bible, and have read a wide range of topics.  I am no expert, but I know what rings true for me.  In some ways this book is heretical, and other ways, so grounded and such an unique take on such an important religious idea/topic/person that it is not one to be taken lightly.

This is the story of Levi, also known as Biff, that is the best friend of Joshua, son of Mary and Joseph whom would be later known as Jesus Christ.  Much has been made of Christ's life after he turns 30, but not a lot has been made of his life up until that point.  Remove the religious aspect of this novel, and this is a coming of age novel of two young boys.  How Biff and Joshua bond, the bonds of their friendship, and how they grow and mature together.  At this times, this is laugh out loud funny.  At times, I really had to pause and to reflect upon what I was learning.  Who knows what parts could be accurate (and this book is not trying to be accurate), but there are some ideas buried in here that make a lot of sense.

Regardless of whether or not you are religious, Joshua as a person is very likeable in this book.  This novel brings the person behind the name and the religion to life as a person that made mistakes and wanted to learn, and reminds you of the basic and simple values that he preached (compassion, humility, love for your fellow humans, etc). I have some ideas about religion, and that there is no one true path, rather the path that is unique to yourself as you discover the god/love/divine spark within and this book nicely fits in there, somewhere.  I will keep this one on my bookshelf for a future look and it is well worth the time between its covers.  You WILL laugh, and you will hopefully get something out of this as well.

Monday, August 6, 2012

The Back 40

I really value getting out in to nature.  When your kids are young, and there are a few barriers to actually covering ground by foot, we haven't been out in the wild as much as I would like.  One unexpected bonus of our move, is that we are getting out in to nature more all the time.  Ultimately we are closer to the back 40 than we are to the city now.  Whether it is a walk out on the local dykes, or to the parks, our out further in to the woods, we are getting out more.

In the move I somehow lost our kiddie backpack, and although a lot of the trails we have been traveling are pretty smooth, we haven't been taking the wagon anymore for the Don.  We have been out to Golden Ears, and to Kanaka, and a few parts in between, and I must admit, I have wondered how the Don would do.  Well, he has blown away all of my expectations and he has been amazing.  Today in the woods, it wasn't him that fell, it was me.  It wasn't him that was whining about being tired, it was his brother (I must admit, I just about lost it laughing when C-man dropped to the ground and kicked his legs in the air and told me how tired he was). 

 I am so proud of them both.  I am also so happy to be outdoors more.  It feels like I have been waiting to get back out in the woods for a long time.  Next year, way more camping.  This year, more Sunday hikes, more outdoor adventures.  This is a great trend!


Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Alone, in a classroom

This is the second novel that I have read by Hay, and I have enjoyed both.  This isn't a quick read that sweeps you off of your feet until you turn the last page, rather it is a story that unfolds and pull you along by it's current.  There are poetic passages that are a joy to read - thoughts that I want to earmark in my library copy, or jot down as a future reference.  There are some truths that Hay quietly nails. 

The one criticism I have of this novel is that it can be really disjointed at times.  I had to wonder whom the story was about at certain points, and whether or not we were in Saskatchewan, and back in the Ottawa Valley.  Some parts of this novel I enjoyed more, and some parts I thought were a bit odd.  All in all, a very satisfying read that I suspect will stay with me.

I read a comment that likened Hay to Margaret Laurence or Alice Munro, in which their novels elevate ordinary lives in to extraordinary stories.  I would agree with this - this isn't a novel of sweeping events, this is a novel of interwoven lives and families.  Some details are sparse, and others are richly described. 

Aside from reading and trying to capture an opinion, I am finally on a bit of a break.  Holidays are somewhat disjointed this year, and this officially a "staycation".  I am thrilled about it - I am happy to explore our local parks and beaches, and see these things through my kids eyes.  It is strange moving back to a place you knew as a kid, sprouted wings from, flew away from, only to come back to roost.  I have grown, as has our new home town.  Today we are going to head out to a spray park out in the valley.  One close to a place I lived 25 years ago.  I hope that that mozzies are not too terrible, since I know it is near the river and in the woods.  I am enjoying the first moments of the day - the quiet before everyone is going and wants to move.  My coffee is warm, and the morning is perfectly cool.  I love the fleeting moments during the heat of summer when the weather is amazing, but the mornings start off with a bit of a chill and you know it is a matter of time before everything is almost oppressively hot.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

My youngest has taken the concept of the "nature pee" (as we now call taking a whiz outdoors) to a new extreme.  The big guy has been pretty good about this.  At our old house, he favoured our apple tree, but since we have moved and have more than one bathroom the only nature pees he takes are when he forgets to go to the bathroom before leaving daycare (along the trail in the woods or in between two open car doors where I wave my finger and tell him not to hit the car).

Now, C-man dropped his drawers in downtown Barkerville.  He has tried to go in the garage.  He has gone on the patio.  He has streaked through the neighborhood on his jeep.. and yesterday, I really had to restrain myself.  We were at the spray park, and once I said we had to go, both boys went in different directions.  Ergo, I get one under control, and I look over to see this perfect arc of whiz, coming off of the playground.

I love you C-man.  At least most parents in close vicinity weren't too horrified, and since most people didn't hear my gasp of dismay, I think this incident went relatively unnoticed.  Lovely lecture on the way home about nature pees and when to do them.  This is the stuff your mom doesn't really give you advance warning about.  Then again, I suspect my kids are a wee bit different than we were (wink wink).

Aside from nature pees, I am taking a break from cleaning up the family room.  We are going to entertain family on Saturday so it was time (again) to attack our carpet with a rug doctor. We have the nicest looking horrible carpet out there.  You give our carpet a sideways glance and brush some dust off of your pants, and viola! Instant stain.  *SIGH*  I am taking this opportunity to move some furniture around.  I haven't done this for months and I forgot how gratifying it can be.  One of my dark secrets.  I like to move furniture around late at night.  I blame this weird urge on moving too many times when I was a kid.

Monday, July 23, 2012

A quick but satisfying read

Finally.  A book that was more thoughtful than how many of the last books that I have been reading?  This had an interesting premise.  This starts with the protagonist (Grace Winter) heading to court for the murder of a shipmate on a lifeboat that has been lost at sea.  The story takes place shortly after the sinking of the Titanic, just as World War I breaks out.  The first 2/3s of the novel deal with the first two weeks the survivors in the lifeboat are at sea, and the final third deals with Grace's trial and fills in bit and pieces of her life.

This is an intriguing novel, and I got more out of the first parts of the novel more so than the later parts.  Reading about the survivors and how they faced difficult choices was much like a literary version of the movie Open Water.  This story delves in to the question, what would you do if your lifeboat had too many passengers?  Some very thoughtful passages, and I think this is a book that will stick with me a bit.  As the main character, Grace is likeable - strong, and very much a survivor.  It is interesting how she relates to the other women, and to the fewer men in the boat.  Well worth a read.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

I am slowly catching up with all the books I have been reading over the last few weeks.  Between the few that I jetissoned, and these more recent books.. I have been feeling like I have been going through a reading rut.  I got in to work on Monday and I started whinging about the books I have been reading lately... and I got a new one handed to me yesterday.  It will be another quick read, but I am already much happier with this new book than the last several I have been reading. 

This was a very idealist book about a young Iranian woman that is sent to America to find a husband so she doesn't have to return home. I would admit that some of my perceptions are coloured because of the many student stories I have heard over the years, so I found this book to be too superficial in many ways.  Things happened so quickly, and as I said, so idealistically... I found it wasn't that satisfying because it truly wasn't that deep of a novel.  Perhaps right now I am in need of some literary fibre.  Any suggestions? 

Overall this is a decent read, it is quick, and decently written... but for me, not that satisfying.  Compare this book to something like the Prisoner of Tehran and for me there is no comparison.  If you are looking for a quick, sweet story with a happy ending, this is a good choice.
Another book that I blitzed through that didn't leave much of an impression.  I guess I am glad that I bought it used? Books like this are good for yearly stats, and perhaps a bit of escapism and not much else.  I got to read it in a night - all my boys were asleep early and I had time on my hands so I decided to read... at least it wasn't a long book!  This one was average.  There were some well crafted scences, and decent writing.. the beginning took a while for me to warm up to, and the end almost wrapped up too quickly for my liking.  It was an almost good book for me.

A world of Pooh

 In a month full of books that have not been all that satisfying.. this was a great read.  It was really quick, and very profound all at the same time.  There are many simple,elegant truths in this book, and I think one day it is one I will reread and reflect upon.  I will also follow it up and read the Te of Piglet when I have a moment and am so inclined.  It has already been a few weeks since I read it, so I don't have a lot of profound statements to make, except that this was a satisfying read, and one that will stay with me.

There is truly something to be said about letting go of our constructs, and going with the flow, and not being so caught up in things.  Our relationships matter.  Clarity, clear speaking and thought are goals to work towards. 

Worth checking out the author's website, and their comments on how they have been treated by their publisher.  This is equally eye-opening when you realize just how popular this book has been in the last 30 years.



Thursday, July 12, 2012

Wild Hair

C-Man and my hubby... making crazy hair faces
Before the big cut, July 2012

Did I mention I was also a hairdresser? I cannot say that I am the most skilled, but I do try.  When the boys hair gets to a certain length, it is time to open up shop.  Of course, it is a lot of fun to have some crazy hair first.  I must find a few shots of B when I did a similar series of him and Ken.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Jetsam and Flotsam

I hate mosquitoes.  They love me.  With all the high water around here this year, the mosquitoes have bred like crazy and they keep finding me.  I finally have a great backyard to kick back in, and before I go there, I have to layer on the bugspray.  I think I am getting a little better at not scratching all my bites until they bleed... but my legs aren't pretty.  I have many, many new scars already from this summer.

I have also chosen not to continue reading two books.  Rarely do I do this, rarely does it happen back to back. I tried to read the last book in the Fifty series (Freed).  I couldn't do it.  I skim read a few parts to get the gist of it, but I just could not do it.  Done with Fifty.

I also tried to read The Devil's Punch Bowl by Greg Iles.  Normally I really enjoy his writing.. got 200 pages in to this one, and just lost total interest.  I don't think it is a terrible book, again, just wasn't doing anything for me, and I have a whole pile of books on my side table that are screaming out to be ride. 

Again, this book has been jettisoned and is off to the side. 

Summer is here.  It is just so damn awesome to be warm.  To wake up to a cool morning with the sun shining.  To be able to get out and play on the weekends.  Sun makes such a difference after all the rain we have had.  It has been a few strange weeks at work - I have reached a saturation point about certain things, and I have been getting some pretty nice kudos from students and staff that I am doing a good job.  It feels like when you want to get a haircut and then everyone tells you how good your hair looks - it feels like a bit of a disconnect.  C is getting in to daycare for September, and B ended up getting his space after all.  It seems like things are slowly coming together.  Now if we could buy the winning lottery ticket, everything would get a lot easier! LOL

Friday, June 29, 2012

A month of the light and fluffy

Another series!  I guess if we all get hooked on our TV series, it is no wonder that book series can be equally popular.  After having read literally hundreds of Robert's books, to say I know what to expect is an understatement.  It seems that June is the month of books that are truly escapist in nature and don't tax many of my higher powers in my head.

It was a fast, easy read with easy to like characters in an idealized setting.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Darker

It is official.  I don't get the hype.  As erotic literature.. okay... but the popularity this series is getting blows my mind.  It was an alright read (nothing fancy, no really big words or theories, truly escapist read) but when I got to the final pages, I think I groaned out loud and rolled my eyes with how lame of a twist this trilogy is going to take.

After the first book, I was intrigued enough by the tale to keep moving on, with how this book ended, it was so brutally lame, I don't know if I want to read the last book.  I am glad they were borrowed books, and I am glad I have at least read the first two in the series because at least I have an informed opinion.. and to return to my initial statement, I don't get it.  I still believe the hype surrounds that people are talking about the books, they are somewhat erotic in nature, and the covers are innocuous enough that you could get away with reading them anywhere.  Other than that... I am looking forward to much a more satisfying read in my future.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Ended on a high note

This was a great book to read on vacation.  There were times it dragged for me, but it wrapped up in to a neat read.  I enjoyed the series, as well as some of the messages through this book.  Too bad the movie series never did truly take off, although I am not sure how well it would have translated to the big screen.

This last book wasn't nearly as dark as the first books, and it ends with hope.  I think this was my favourite book from the series.  It has been a few weeks since I read this, so I am searching a bit for a truly reflective comment and failing.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

This isn't a kids series

I am not quite convinced this is a kid's series.  Like a few of the layers in the Simpsons, I am sure that quite a bit of this book would escape the average 12 year old reader (since this is billed as young adult fiction).  That being said, I am really enjoying this series and this book leaves on a cliffhanger that had me at the library on my break yesterday taking out the final book in the trilogy. 

This book delved further in to some character development, but also put Lyra's story on the backburner a bit.  I was a bit disappointed with her character development because she was a much more meek version of the girl that we saw in the Golden Compass.  I was surprised by how much she deferred to Will in parts of the book - withdrawing from the use of the alethiometer unless they were looking for answers together.  Taken together, the first book is more about Lyra, and this second book is more about Will.  I missed reading about Lee, the aeronat, and Iorek the amoured bear.  However, it was interesting learning about Will's past, and the coincidences that bring Will and Lyra together, and the different forces of light and dark that impact the telling of this story.

It will be interesting to see how the Amber Spyglass plays out.  Perhaps that focuses more on their story together, especially since Adam and Eve have been suggested in the upcoming battle between light and dark, and the obvious pairing would be Lyra and Will.  These are sophisticated novels, and they are entertaining, and they are quick reads.  It is a complex set of worlds and beliefs - this is why I have a hard time seeing this as young adult reading materials.  I think of CS Lewis and the Chronicles of Narnia and I think of young adult, even if the themes are also complex and Jungian in nature.  In a way I see Lewis' novels somewhat like the Simpsons - you appreciate different layers and symbolism more as you gain more life experience.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Gas Apps

Now that I have my own smart phone, I have come to appreciate applications.  Like Gas Buddy.  I like being able to do a quick survey of how much gas is and where is the cheapest gas closest to me.

I no longer understand our gas prices.  I can't believe how much they can vary from morning to night, and then across community boundaries.  Growing up, I remember  my community being pretty cheap compared to others.  Now, as soon as I cross the last bridge heading home, gas jumps by 3 - 5 cents on average per litre.  Do they think we are stupid?  Hello, people won't use a wonderful bridge because it has a toll and you don't think people will drive 2km farther to save a few bucks?

Aside from all my other midlife changes I seem to be grappling with, I now think about how and when I buy my gas.  I have a plan.  We have a family strategy since we fill the van up in the states every Saturday.  I am tempted to do it before work on Tuesdays for my blazer.. but I just don't seem to be that motivated to leave that much earlier in the morning than I need to.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Working that mom hat

After an environmental scan, I have decided that I just have to break and completely embrace routines and making the most of  my mornings  before I leave for work.  I think internally I have been fighting this for a while, in a way, my own Peter Pan ambition to never grow old.

Well, I may never truly grow up (embrace that inner child I say) but there is something to be said about meal planning, and doing the dishes in the morning so you come home to a clean kitchen (rarely do they happen right after dinner in my house), and organizing the trash and recycling, and doing the laundry throughout the week, and trying to keep the house a little cleaner along the way.  Damn it all, I am trying to pick up after myself, and the kids, and put things away, and not let things get wildly out of control.  Spending your whole weekend cleaning house when the weather finally gets good sucks. 

It never ceases to amaze me that success is part luck, part hard work, and a lot of personal discipline and management.  My current goals are to continue reading good books, knit a few pairs of socks for loved ones, connect with my body again and start exercising so I can trim down a bit, some swimming lessons for the kids, a few dates with my hubby, and to have a great summer.  Some parts of this are easier to achieve than others.  Other goals include actually taking my breaks at work and using my time more effectively.  Days seem to slip into weeks, and then months.  Everything is speeding up and I am finding that the more structured I have things, the smoother everything runs.  At times I want to rebel against the structure and the routine... but it is starting to become more and more clear that is what vacations are for, and especially how important they are.

Monday, May 28, 2012

50 shades of something...

Word of mouth seems to be spreading the news about this book (and the trilogy it belongs too) like wildfire.

This article captures a few of the reasons why.

I will admit, I was curious to read the book.  It has a lot of the hype surrounding it like the Da Vinci Code did a few years ago.  People are actually talking about this book.  Even here at work, copies are being devoured in cubes all over the place.  I can't say that I had high expectations of the book... as I had heard terms like "mommy porn" being bandied about, as well as a few comments about the lead character's "inner goddess" that gets a fair bit of attention.

This is not stellar literature, but I think I can understand why it is so popular.  It is easy to read.  In many ways it is very idealistic.  In other ways, it is a fantasty book where you can see the glimmer of a happy ending at the end of the trilogy.  In a way it reminded me of reading the "second chance at love" books of the 80s that I would steal from my mom, or like a racier harlequin novel for pure escapist reasons.  It is easy to skim read through the novel, and some of the sentences make me roll my eyes.  It isn't a very deep novel, and I did snicker when I saw the display of the series at the local Coles store.  I had to laugh.  I think this novel's popularlity has something to do with it's cover.  It is innocuous.  It doesn't look like a racy book.  It looks acceptable.  Add to this that people are talking about it, therefore, people are reading it.  Hell, my neighbours were talking about it and one of their dad's has read the whole series.  It is all a bit odd IMHO.  Entertaining?  Fairly.  Pretty vanilla, and as I said, very idealistic.  It is at it's heart a boy meets girl story, with a bit of a twist, where the boy is broken and needs to be healed, but the girl also needs to have some life experience along the way.  Will it change your life, nope.  Was it a quick read, and somewhat entertaining? Yes.

You couldn't ask for a different kind of "fantasy" book considering the last book I read was The Golden Compass.    I believe we are going to read it for book club, and I am curious to see all of our reactions to it.  I think it is curious to read because of it's popularity and the attention it is getting and the fact that this is a book pretty much about two folks and their developing sexual relationship.  Outside of this, the plot is pretty thin, as is some of the character development.  I was chatting to a coworker about it, and frankly, neither one of us really get the popularity of this book.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Not sure if I am going to finish this one...

One thing I love about having a library at work is that I can take out books by authors I haven't read or know anything about, risk free.  I have only invested my time, and not some of my hard earned dollars for a book that I am not sure whether or not I am going to enjoy.  Hence, this book, for instance.

I am just not sure about this one.  I got about 100+ pages in to it... and well, a few other more interesting books have come along since I started reading this.  So, I put it aside a few weeks ago.  Then it fell behind my bed, and I rediscovered it this weekend (should be a hint).  Yes, it is interesting.. but it just isn't pulling me along. Rather, I feel like it is dragging me along.  I have checked out some reviews, and this is a well reviewed book... but I can't quite convince myself that I want to finish it.  As a so called intellectual mystery novel.. it is falling short for me and I am not that engaged with the characters.  In a way, it has a Dead Poet's Society feel to it.  It also feels like being back in university when I was reading Greek and Roman literature, and exploring the classics and thinking luxurious thoughts when I wasn't worried about feeding the kids and commuting to work.  Although this isn't really a great nostalgia, hence my struggle.  Other art forms bring me back to my youth in a much more effective and rewarding way (like listening to the album "Gordon" by the Barenaked Ladies or the Hip).

Especially when I know I can grab book 2 in the dark materials trilogy tomorrow.. and a friend is going to loan me 50 shades of gray.. which is supposed to be scorching up mom's bedrooms all over the place.  When I know I have at least 3 or 4 books that I could jump right in to... the appeal of this book just isn't there for me.  Hell, since I can return it to the library, if I am ever so moved, I can go and take it out again, and finish the damn thing.  I think this post has talked me in to taking the book back with the Golden Compass tomorrow.

Foray in to fantasy

It has been a while since I have read a fantasy novel... and I have been curious about Pullman's "Dark Materials" trilogy.

It took me a little bit to get in to the book because fantasy is just such a break from what I normally read, but once I was in to the book, I can't wait to head back to our library to take out the next book in the series.  It is truly darker than many of the fantasy novels that I have read, and it would be interesting to spend some time delving a little deeper in to some of the religious and symbolic meanings of the text.

I am not sure if I will watch the movie, but as for good reading, I will continue in the series.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Routines

It seems that it isn't only my kids that like a good routine.  It has only taken me 39 years to discover that I too, love my routines.  I like my PB&J sandwiches, and I lurve my coffee on the couch in the morning.  I love being able to read before bed... I think after each kid was born.. part of the issue going back to work is that there is many, many months of flux as the whole family develops new routines.  Which is chaos trying to get 4 different routines to figure each other out.

So, I am trying to figure out the addition of t-ball twice a week. Some days, success! Other days, total fail.  Like last night... forgot B's glove and jersey.  So, in to the truck they went when I got home.  I am learning that I have to get on it in the morning and use the time before I leave for work to clean up the kitchen, and get organized, and plan out my dinner meal, and prep the veggies.  It all very pedestrian this getting organized for the day.  The big pay off, it does help.  It does help for things to go along a lot smoother.  It just feel like I am kicking and screaming my way there.  I could say that I am a late bloomer, or late figuring it out... but I think it does take time, and you have to be enough beyond the transition and crisis (for that matter) to actually bring about change and effective routines.

Then you get nights like tonight... t-ball... if Tuesday I forgot some stuff but we still had a great time.. today B was brutal.  You would think he cotton in his ears and he just didn't care.  He didn't want to listen about anything.  I ended up being a mean parent and I took the kids home instead of playing.  Man, that was hard because I was organized... but I knew I couldn't give in.  They were little shits!  Nothing like trying to have a quick chat at daycare and find out how your kid is doing when your oldest unlatches and roams your vehicle.  Then after getting mad at your youngest for grabbing the sunscreen and trying to paint the window.. climbs out of the car so he could do it, and wastes a bunch on the window himself.  Oh the tears and the drama.  I get I need to not spend time chatting because the kids get restless and part of it is my fault... but it was like Spring Fever for B.. he didn't want to listen, he just wanted to goof off and do his own thing. 

Blargh.  Not one of our finest family moments.  I don't think anyone won... it was such a moment in the truck - I pulled over, had an honest talk with myself, and my DH.. and decided to turn the truck for home. It has been a shite week at work (really busy) and then to cat herd a kid that doesn't want to listen while chasing the other one down? Sorry, not happening today.

/rant over

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

An enjoyable sequel...

With great intentions, I had meant to post about this a few weeks ago when I actually finished this book.  Alas, life got in the way.  Life seems to keep getting busy on me, and I am left scrambling and trying to get a handle on the day to day.

This was a great follow-up to the Best Laid Plans.  This is very entertaining, and I love that it is Canadian.  Of course, now I impatiently wait for book 3.  Come on Terry, write faster.

A passage that captured my imagination (from page 183) was this:

"Aye, and there were many doubters who told us all it was never to be. The mountain, simply too high to scale. But a life without challenge, a life without hardship, a life without purpose, seems pale and pointless. With challenge come perseverence and gumption. With hardship come resilience and resolve. With purpose come strength and understanding. And tonight, with victory come elation, gratitude, expectations, and a wee spot of trepidation."

Well said.  Much of this could be borrowed to describe a few trials and tribulations and the reward of perseverence.


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

May 1st?

Already?  Time is really clicking along at a frenetic pace. 

Baseball season is underway, and I am proud, and pleasantly surprised with B's team this year.  A much better group overall.  Although, I had heard that the Tuesday/Thursday group didn't get rained out at all last year, so I figured I would pick these days instead of Monday/Wednesday... and so far, this decision isn't really panning out for us.  Spring showers has put it mildly.  I would say La Nina has been in full force over the last year and has delivered a fair share of rain to our fair, left coast.  I feel rejoice when we get a few hours of blue skies, because they have been pretty rare in the last six months.  I digress.  Back to baseball.  B's skills have come a long way - I remember how frustrating last year was between the short attention spans of the kids and just lack of coordination.  Things have come together so much better.

It is definitely tricky managing both boys at ball.  At this stage it is all about parent participation, and C's attention span is very, very small for this.  Luckily there are enough parents to go around, and a few younger sibs, that last week it worked out that one of the parents watched him at the playground, allowing me to focus on B and helping him get his skill set going.  You forget one day, you had to learn to throw and catch a ball, and how to swing a bat.  Up until last year, I thought that this was innate.  However, like learning how to ride a bike, somewhere in our distant past, someone took the time to teach us.

It does make it tricky trying to figure out meals on the go, and what to cook fast when we get home.  Having kids in activities and the work thing is all about personal management.  If you want to get things done and get more out of this crazy thing called life, you have to have a plan, and you have to manage it.  Damn lists are a life saver.  Who knew I would be spouting this off a decade ago?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

A wonderful escape

I think I found the book that I will be telling people about for the next unknown period of time.  There weren't enough hours in the day to read this book, and there weren't enough pages to turn because this book is now done. placed carefully on the read shelf. 

I loved this book.  Easily this will be one of my favorite books from 2012, and will be a book that I tell other people about.  It was utterly enchanting.  This is what reading a book is all about - transporting the reader to a different time and place, with subtle nuances and characters that keep you wanting to read more even though that means getting closer to the final turn of the page.

Skimming through reviews, it seems that this is a polarizing book.  People either love or hate it, and I know what camp I fall in to!  I feel like I am fortunate that I am going through a phase where the books I am reading are really entertaining, peopled with characters that will stay with me.  I hope this cycle continues for a while before some doldrums hit (funny how reading can go in cycles, fantastic books, average books, books that you choose not to finish, and then press repeat).

This is a hard book to summarize, and I am struggling with whether or not I should try.  I think expressing an opinion is one thing, and at times, to pull together why a book like this works another thing altogether.  Underneath it all, this is a fantastical tale about a night circus.  A circus that embraces dreams and fantasy and blurs the lines of reality.  This is the story of two star crossed lovers that are bound together in a challenge that neither is fated to win, or ultimately lose.  This is the story of the people in the circus, and those that love the circus.  I loved the language, how the story unfolds, and the role of stories and storytelling within this story.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Achilles Heel Turn Hell

Mental note:  in future, when learning how to knit something new... stick to a size or pattern that you have an actual pattern for.  Don't start making stuff up as you go along, that isn't quite what learning a new skill is all about.

Currently I am working on my second pair of socks, for my youngest son.  The first was fast!  I finished the first one in a weekend, and then life got in the way the last few weeks.  Enough time passed, that I forgot how I changed the original pattern I was working from (scaling down the original pattern to fit a small child and removing some cables, etc).  Moving on to sock two, I hit a knitting wall.  I got to the point where I have to "turn the heel" and froze.  I completely turtled.  Legs kicking up in the air.  I kept looking at the pattern and it was like Greek to me.  Couldn't figure out what I had done with the first sock.  I kept going through YouTube, looking for the helpful videos I checked out the first time around.. nothing really looked all that familiar or helpful for that matter. 

Today, finally.. the clouds have parted and I am on my way again!  I can't tell you how many times I have knit parts of this sock, to take it out, and to go back again.  Repeat.  Endlessly. I am so thrilled to be moving on from this heel flap and feel extension.  I wish I knew where those thoughts disappeared to for the last few weeks... but I am glad that they are back!  Well, I guess I do know.  The last few weeks have been hellacious at work. Finally I have had a few moments to breath again and figure out what is next up.  Amazing how that can make such a difference!!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

A funny book on Canadian politics?

This is the most fun I have had reading a book in a long, long time. 

Hands down, Aprils' reads have been a far cry better than the stumbling month of March.  I picked up this book on a whim.  I liked the cover, I liked that it was a Canada Reads books, and I liked that it won a humour award.  I didn`t bother reading the back.  Since I liked it`s look, I figured Why Not?  This is a bit of a new attitude for me with books.  I used to stress over my choices, and absorb the back cover summary.  Chances are good.  If a book is bad, pay it forward and start a new one.  Ultimately a pretty low risk venture in life.  Now that I have finished this book, reflecting upon some of the more depressing Canadian literary books I have fought my way through, why did I wait so long to turn to humour?

I am torn - do I quickly grab book two from the library, or do I wait until I have my own copy to read?  The Night Circus is up next (it does come highly recommended and is supposed to be an intriguing novel) so I will have to see where my head space is at in a week or two. 

This was a great read: funny, witty, articulate.  I found myself laughing out loud, I liked the characters, and I enjoyed how Canadian politics is framed.  I learned a bit about the shenanigans that go on in politics, and this was just such a fun book to read.  I found Fallis' style easy to read, and I liked that one of the main characters was an engineer that could pull together seemingly disparate topics and people together.  Well worth a read. This was a very, very likable novel and then pages turned way too fast for my liking.  My only regret is that I read this book now, and I did not get to see Fallis last year at the Sechelt Writer`s Conference.  Alas.  I shall go again this year and see other fine Canadian authors.

I think for future book club meetings, I will have two suggestions:

1)  Maybe we should check out some of the Canada Reads selections.  Dryden's book has been on my list for years.  Did I ever mention I took a distance education course back in the day called "Hockey in Canada".  The only book missing from that course was The Game.

2) After reading books like McDonald`s Fall on my Knees and McKay`s Birth House (both were good novels) and feeling totally depressed when I finished them, why not foray in to humourous Canadian novels - they do exist and this one is proof!  To the Leacock nominees I shall go!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Paradise, not what it is cracked up to be...

This is the other novel that dogged me through the month of March. I did finish it on Tuesday, however, it has taken me this long to commit something to blog. This month, my bookclub went out on a limb to try something completely different, and this non-fiction book is what we came up with. Great title, and a very interesting look at what life is like in the South Pacific (not what I imagined, fancy that). although the write up claimed that this book was "rip-roaringly funny" which I would argue with to that degree of hilarity, it was amusing, and I did laugh out loud at times, even while I cringed at some of Maarten and Sylvia's adventures.

While on the topic of the tropics, I have to give a big shout out to my friend Naomi and her partner John, traipsing through the South Pacific,cruising away through these tropical climes. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading their adventures, and this book was a good complement the pictures and stories as they have made their way along through this region. Knowing folks traveling through Tarawa and Kiribati, and seeing their pictures really brought this book to life for me.

Definitely insightful, and although the Macarena and Ice Ice Baby are not personal faves, I will look at songs like this differently out of sheer sympathy for the novelist being subjected to this kind of music, over and over again in paradise. It took me a while to really get in to this book, but by the end, I was thoroughly enjoying their adventures and will more than likely read his follow up novels. Life on an atoll is not what I expected, although truly, I am not sure what I expected. Perhaps not the quite subsistence existence of the people, and how they deal with day to day living. This novel makes you question how aid is provided, and how should funding be delivered to nations that need help - the true distance between bureaucrats and people on the ground, doing the grassroots assistance rather than writing and executing policies that won't work.

This novel makes me appreciate human ingenuity, and makes me think that many North Americans are losing this quality with their dependence on ready made goods and disposable technology. There are a few lessons to be learned (gently) though this book in between the laughs. It makes me grateful C is almost out of diapers, and why oh why would we send diapers to an atoll where they can't be disposed of? I look around a little more appreciatively of the comforts we have, my house with all of its things, and the richness of our land. I am also glad I am resourceful, and can make do, and make things... and I want to learn to stand up paddle board, and try surfing again, and go back to an island in the pacific with the sun in my face again. One day (and fingers crossed this time we all be in better health).

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

A well crafted novel

For a while there I was blitzing through novels, and then March hit. I got hung up on two novels, and although they both are good novels (fingers crossed I finish that second one today), they seemed to NEVER END.

After making it to the final 60 pages of this book in nearly a month of stop and start reading, I put on a movie for the kids Sunday morning and curled up on the couch to finish the book. I had reached that stage where all I really wanted to do was get through this book, find out how it ended, and frankly, start reading something else. Hell, even just get on with my day instead of wondering how the novel was going to wrap up... This does not mean that I didn't enjoy this book - I did, however, after over three weeks of reading this book, I am ready to read something else.

Morton is a good writer. She writes a well-crafted novel, and I have enjoyed both of her books so far. In some ways this novel reminded me of a Gabaldon book - dense, not a quick read, well researched, tightly plotted, and one you read when you are ready for this type of reading experience. I had actually picked it up and starting reading this twice before I was able to really get in to this novel. I found that I really struggled with the first 100 pages, but as the pages started to turn, I got more and more in to the story that was being revealed. In many ways this is a modern gothic novel, and again, a different take on both World War II, and modern day experiences.

I am glad March is over - looking back, it is funny it took me so long to get through this book - everything did seem to stall out in March. Some great experiences along the way, but a busy month, and one that was a battle at times, and yet, it seems like the storms are passing and hopefully the clouds will come out soon. We got out on a date this weekend! YAY! I really value having a chance to just be Karen, out with Ken, on a date, enjoying us. It was really nice. We stayed local - tried out a decent bistro, and caught a comedian at the local theatre. Something to be said about not traveling an hour each way to be entertained.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Advocating

I think I have some funny beliefs. In recent years, I have come to believe that even if things don't come completely full circle, it seems that some lessons and life experiences we have do happen for a reason.

I think back to when I was in my 20s and I used to volunteer with a friend and her horses. I didn't do it to ride, I just loved being around the horses. They were beautiful, and it was a truly grounding experience. Spin forward 15 years and that love of horses and relationship evolved in to knowing about therapeutic riding and getting B in to riding at a young age. Truly - where he can go with it is pretty endless depending on his love and his drive (and our access to money, ha ha).

Besides all those public speaking competitions in grade school, kissing the blarney stone, and being a generally outgoing person... the years I have spent working in my life of work (student finance to be vague enough) have also taught me how to advocate and put together appeals for people, and with B, how to be persistent, and put together arguments or to lobby on his behalf for services, or better quality care. Even to stand up for him, for us. Tonight was one of those nights. I attended a board meeting to advocate for changes not to their rules, but to their guiding principals. I had previously asked for an exception to be made for priority access to the next care level for B, since he will no longer have a space at the daycare centre he is for grade 1, which was denied last month because of said rules (movement between levels is based on date of entry in to childcare centre), and once I removed the personal element of the decision out of it, I spoke to the board tonight about what a parent like me goes through when decisions like that are made ... we don't have a problem with kids waiting to get in to a program, but to ask for a different kind of priority be given for kids that have community supports in place due to permanent disabilities to move between the levels instead of being kicked out in a school age program because there isn't enough space between the levels.

It is hard to say your child isn't like other kids. That your kid has barriers and challenges, that not every one does. Every one has a story, but ours is a little different. I do not see B as disabled - he is a kid that walks funny. However, at the end of the day, he is different, he gets tired, he falls, he has different challenges than most of us. After speaking tonight... I think the board was willing to make a different decision, even though I was asking about a greater policy change to take principals in to consideration and not just rules. That we weren't just trying to queue jump, and that we did take it seriously about wait lists and priority.

Well, after I spoke... there was some discussion and then the board immediately moved in camera. Which was because I think they were going to revisit this original decision because I think some people were moved by what I had to say, and how I structured my argument.

I am verklempt (one of those rare moments I can use this word in a sentence). This is a hard one to process. Telling our story to the board, persisting, my stomach all rolling about, feeling hyper and the adrenaline rush... and then back to hopeful. I am hopeful that perhaps B can be next on the list, rather than 10th. Hopeful that he can stay where he is, rather than wait for 6 months that hopefully enough spaces will open up that this has all been just an exercise in patience.

My fingers are crossed, I am hopeful... for B to be able to move on to the next level seamlessly and not have to worry about changing daycare and schools is a BIG DEAL. I can handle hopeful. To have advocated for future kids with special needs (I hate this term but it fits) to perhaps be given a different kind of consideration in future... is a big deal. To tie it all together.. all those years of public speaking, and doing my job, have all brought me full circle to be able to speak up, and be persistent, and fight these kind of battles.. when many people would have accepted the first no, and stopped the fight there. It certainly isn't easy.. but I couldn't imagine it any other way.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Just not at the same time....

Talking to other career moms, we are all tired. Time management of self and family, meal planning, not enough sleep, weekends passing too quickly, leftover laundry, and overwhelming lists is a pretty common theme. Talking to a fellow career mom, they cracked a joke about Shirley Maclaine saying in the 80s that women could have it all. The reality now in the 2010's... is that women can have it all... just not all at the same time.

Something has to give. After a full day of work, and picking up the kids, and then traffic, and then making dinner, and resting for a moment and trying to get caught up on everyone's day, and then avoiding dishes, and bath routines, and reading to the kids and hoping they fall asleep in a timely manner... there just isn't a lot left in the tank. For me, for my dear hubby, for the house... and we are back to time management, and making lists, and being organized. All the things I had no idea that I would become. Yet, by becoming those things, you can achieve so much more! It is an evil cycle. I am trying to fit in some physical exercise, and I am struggling to find the time (and the motivation). A few of my loved ones are making it happen, and I am just not sure where my time is going, because getting out for a jog is still an idea that hasn't become a reality. In a way, it is an excuse to say I am busy... but really, I am! This is the heart of this post - it isn't just about me whining (although you can definitely get a whiff of that in this post) it is more a reflection of how busy life is, and trying to fit in the things that matter.

I am grateful for my books, for being able to sit down and knit, for book club nights, and nights out with fellow moms... I am really grateful for date nights when they happen - when I can be away from my kids and with my husband at the same time! I am also really grateful for getaways, and for tax returns! For making things easier at this time of the year. HA HA.

Yes, this post is a bit of a whinge, but truly, mentally I have returnede to this thought a few times over the last few weeks "women can have it all, just not at the same time". It rings true. It is hard being a supermom, there are always frayed edges, no matter how hard you try. Some nights you crash out at 8pm and don't rise again until a new day. Some days you are a rock star, crossing off items like crazy off of your list and feeling like you can accomplish anything, and then there are the moments you come crashing back down. For me it has been all about adjustment. Realizing I don't have to do everything at once, about picking my battles, and not having a perfect house. Knowing that most jobs around the house can wait, and the biggest thing is that my loved ones know they are loved, even if I am not perfect all the time and don't always get a chance to reach out.

Friday, March 9, 2012

First pair of socks...

Well, they aren't perfect, but they were a learning experience. I learned about the magic loop method (very cool) and about turning a heel, and the parts of a sock. My second sock was somewhat smaller than the first as I started to get paranoid that the yarn was not going to make it through the to end. I was surprised at how LONG my son's feet are, and all in all, a satisfying project. Looking at this pair, they don't look like they would fit a 5 year old.

Next time I will use a different yarn blend, and I need to get my own sock needles. I get the feeling that there is this whole sock culture out there of folks knitting really intricate patterns. At this point, I am all about comfort and utility. I don't really need to incorporate cables and fancy patterns in to my socks... I want to master the art of the" lets figure out how to make some socks, fairly quickly that fit without big holes around the heel flap that scream out comfort". The kind of socks you would wear in front of the fireplace with a tea beside you, a good book in your lap, your kids happily doing their thing, and your hubby doing his thing...