Monday, 29 May 2017

Out and About on a Bike. Speaking Canadian.

Once summer starts here in eastern Ontario, Hubby and I try to get out and about on our bikes as much as we can. There are numerous cycling trails and routes to be explored, and lots of local villages to poke around in, or to stop for lunch.

On this particular weekend, we weren't the only ones doing this. Our little village is a popular destination for cyclists who ride out in packs from the city. We're 25-30 km from Parliament Hill, depending on the route you choose, and if you're an avid cyclist, that's very doable. And I guess the view of Watson's Mill, or the reward of lunch at the pub, or a pint, or an ice cream cone makes it worthwhile. 

cyclists on a leafy street, with historic buildings
Cyclists set off from outside Dickinson House in Manotick

Thursday, 25 May 2017

In the Pink. Ish.

To be honest I'm not always a fan of pink. Of course, I love pink spring blossoms like the ones on our flowering crabapple tree below. I almost missed the blossoms this year because both this tree, and our other apple trees, bloomed while I was away down east. So, yeah, I love pink apple blossoms. And pink tulips; I love pink tulips. And hyacinths. And lilacs.

Pink spring blossoms on our flowering crabapple tree.
Our old flowering crabapple tree
But pink on me... as in true pink, pale pink, blush, or coral... blouses, scarves, or sweaters... not so much. It's because of my colouring. 

Monday, 22 May 2017

Sleep Deprived

I'm feeling a bit loopy today, my first day back home from New Brunswick. Probably because I slept for almost twelve hours last night. Combined with the two-hour nap I had when we first arrived home from the airport, that makes for a whole lot of sleep in the past 24 hours. All that shut-eye was the result of my body not being happy with a virtually sleepless night, followed by a second night with three hours sleep since I had to leave for the airport before dawn to catch my early morning flight home.

Yes, I know, compared to the sleep schedule of some of you, that's nothing. I know. Busy people are sleep deprived. I know. It's just accepted as a part of our modern 24/7 world. People have work, and worries, and sometimes physical pain, and way too many episodes of whatever on Netflix to keep them awake. Not to mention those of you who are parents of small children; you deserve a category of sleep deprivation all your own. 

I understand that many, many people have trouble getting enough sleep. Much more trouble than I have. It's just that I've never operated well on too little sleep. Even when I was young and supposedly invincible, and cramming for exams, or pulling an all-nighter to finish a university paper, or simply staying out on the town until all hours. Or later when worries about work, reliving a stressful day, or going over and over a confrontation with a student or a parent kept me awake to the wee hours, a sleep deprived night was almost always followed by an early-to-bed night and, when possible, a late-to-rise morning. I have always been unable to function on too little sleep. I'm not sure what kind of a disastrous mother I would have made, considering the impact of parenthood on parental sleep schedules. Or how I would have been able to manage a teaching career with small children at home. Probably not well. 

Man and cat napping together.
Hubby and Doc having a well-deserved afternoon nap. 1986

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Hair Management: Learning to Live With Wilful Locks

You know, sometimes when life gets very serious, it's good to stop and stress about something not so serious. Like hair. Wilful, mind of its own, totally misbehaving, unmanageable hair. Like mine. Because as you are no doubt aware, if you stop by here regularly, I do like to stress and obsess about my hair. I seem to write a hair story every few months, starting way back in the spring of 2014 when I first started writing the blog. 

In that post I mention how the writer Natalie Goldberg, in her book Writing Down the Bones, says that if you are casting about for daily writing topics, and nothing springs to mind, "write a hair story." And when I was still teaching, each semester I would suggest "a hair story" as a journal topic. I was always surprised by the clever, funny pieces the students produced. Especially the story written by Jenny (lovely, quiet Jenny, with the long red curls) who felt unable to live up to the fiery personality her hair seemed to promise. Perhaps Jenny thinks she should have been born a cool brunette. With a sleek pageboy cut. Like Donna Parker.

Donna Parker cover art picturing girl with pageboy style hair
I'm sure my hair aspirations harken back to my sister's copy of this Donna Parker book

Friday, 12 May 2017

In Need of a Little Gentle Reading

If you've been reading this blog for a while you'll know that I have an abiding love for gentle books. Stories which ultimately make me sigh and feel that, despite everything, all is right with the world. When I say "all is right with the world" I don't mean in the sense that the hero triumphs, wins the lottery, finds true love, conquers the enemy, whatever. Not in that kind of larger than life sense. I mean that the plot of the novel, the characters, the setting and, in particular, the style make me feel that, no matter what, life can be absorbing, interesting, engaging, beautiful. And often the books that make me feel this way are those that deal with life close-up. Books that deal with the small but fascinating minutiae of everyday life. And with characters who may be unassuming but, on closer inspection, are also intelligent, perceptive, funny, courageous, and endearing. I'm thinking of books written by Barbara Pym and Anita Brookner, who I've written about here  And of course the Nancy Mitford books. Or anything about the Mitfords, really. Not sure why I'm so fascinated by that family. 

Lately I've been in need of a little gentle reading. 

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Needs Must ... Dressing for the Weather

You may (or may not) know that I can get a bit obsessive. I often over-organize. I stress too much about my hair. I get excited about something or other, and jump in over my head. Frequently. So, once we had that first taste of spring a few weeks ago, I was hell bent on spring shopping. All it took was a couple of warm-ish, sunny days, and temperatures above 10°C. The snow disappeared, and then the mud and puddles magically dried up. Dry enough to allow me to venture out in shoes, instead of boots. Warm enough to feel confident about packing the winter coats and hats away. Spring-y enough that I drew up my seasonal shopping list, and then shopped until I dropped.  

In the spring, I'm a bit like the young detective, Jasmine Sharp, in Christopher Brookmyre's book When the Devil Drives. I mentioned her in a post a while ago. Poor Jasmine has had a lot of trouble in her young life. And in the novel when her car gets torched, and the insurance company refuses to pay up, she is disappointed but resigned. Until the last line of the book. I swear this is the best epilogue I've read in years; I laughed out loud: "Five days later O'Hara shows up at the office and handed [Jasmine] an envelope containing ten thousand pounds in cash. Shoppiness ensued." 

Ha. That's me, folks. The sun shines. The puddles dry. And shoppiness ensues. 

Monday, 1 May 2017

Armchair Travel: Two Wonderful Books About Faraway Lands

The weather today here is dreadful. Rainy, blowy, cold. Hubby is in the kitchen; the soup assembly-line is in full swing. He likes to "cook big," as he says. Time to settle down for a good old natter about books, I think. 

Last night I finally finished Amor Towles latest novel A Gentleman in Moscow. I do love books about far away lands, books which take me places when I'm just sitting in my armchair. And I certainly loved this book. 

cover art for A Gentleman in Moscow. Man in suit looking over a hotel balcony     man seated in white shirt, vest and tie
                                                      source                                                            source