Saturday, August 30, 2014

Yup. That was August.

It would appears that summer for our younger kids is likely not over yet.  So much for kindergarten starting for our little man.  At least they have decent haircuts and are good to start the school year, whenever that may be.  I have a lot of feelings about our school strike, mostly I am disappointed with both the BCTF and with our provincial government for where things are at. I am trying to hard to be fair to both sides - but demands from both are ridiculous. It is really hard to know where the truth is, especially when I think about how some of the contract negations I have been a part of have gone and how they have resolved.

It really feels like the last two years have been a blur, especially this last year.  I am looking forward to when things normalize - between new childcare, new schools, no more Board meetings (AGM is in a few weeks, I will glad to be moving on) and just settling in to the new reality.  I am looking forward to not commuting with my kids every day. I am glad that that they will not have 90 minutes in the car every day, that is a big deal.  Friday morning we almost had a big truck run in to us coming off of the highway.  Great reinforcement it is nice to not have my kids in the car every day.

There have been some amazing moments this summer - going to the beach with the boys, our camping trip to Porpoise Bay, the demolition derby, my quick trip to Kelowna when my brother got married (although this experience is wrapped in a few different emotions), and just getting out and trying to enjoy the amazing weather we had this summer.  Although I must admit, I am struggling to really figure out where did the time go.  Back in June, it seems that everything got thrown off kilter with the start of the school strike and school ending early.  Next year, we will need to get away camping and get out of dodge for a bit.  When you don't really get away, you don't really feel like you have much of a break.  During my two weeks off, we took care of a few appointments, sorted through clothes, read some amazing books, of course, I love spending time at the beach with our boys, and then viola! I was back at work again.  We are short staffed (still, again).. and I have a few hats on, so it seems like I am not getting much of a break to just really get caught up with myself… in the last few days things are somewhat calm.. but working in post secondary… everything will change on Tuesday.. and knowing this, and knowing we are short, makes it hard to relax.  I figure I will just wake up one day and it will be after Thanksgiving.

I think for the boys the summer went well - summer camps, time with me, time with Ken, new daycare, more summer camps and old daycare.  It was busy and it was a bit all over the place. I think it was good for C since it allowed him to be treated like a big kid, not a toddler.  B rolled with the punches and is excited about the upcoming changes. With the summer broken in to weeks, I think this also contributed to the time just flying.

I also have not been jogging, for months.  I do miss it.  I also haven't been able to get out walking at lunch as much as I would like at work. I need to figure the exercise piece out - I think for me having my routine totally off and has thrown me off of my game a little.  If you can say kids love their routines, so do their parents. I think it is good for my knee (since it seemed to be having some weird issues) I am not running, but I think we need to figure out biking or something wild and crazy like that… fingers crossed next weekend I get to try Stand Up Paddle boarding.  It seems I have not quite figured out that yearly goal of losing a bunch of weight, but at least I can try SUP this year, and we have painted the family room and put a fence in our backyard.  I suspect the 5 or 10 km run isn't going to be this year, but perhaps I can even get out for a huge, long hike and call it even.

Yup. I am rambling. I could be writing my report for that AGM, but I am kind of in a blah mood.  I suspect once I finish here, I will retire with my latest book and look forward to a Sunday morning layabout for a bit as well.

Friday, August 29, 2014

A seafarin' yarn of worth

This was a really powerful book.  It appears that I have been on a bit of a nonfiction kick lately, and this is a really great addition to that list if you enjoy a good yarn about the ocean and it's travellers.

This is a book that caught my attention in a magazine a while ago, a blurb, and it appealed so I added it to my "to read" list.  I really had no idea what it was about, except that the cover looked neat, and it was well received.  Ironically enough, our book club made a point of reading novels this year that are being made in to movies - and this book falls in to this category (which surprised me, somewhat). 

I learned a lot from this book, and it does help that I read Unbroken  last year, so this isn't my first book reading about unlikely survival at sea.  Comparisons are also drawn to Alive, the book and movie that chronicalled the story of a Uruguayan rugby team who were involved in the crash of Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571, which crashed into the Andes mountains on October 13, 1972. 

I really didn't know a lot about whaling, about Nantucket, or about the whaleship Essex.  I have heard about Moby Dick, and it is on the "to read" list, and I have heard about the mutiny on the Bounty (which I also thought was a fictional event but have now learned it to be based on real events).  This novel describes what happened to the Essex and her inhabitants.  What happened out in the Pacific Ocean, the sperm whale the stoves the ship, and the three whaleboats with the crew that seek salvation.  Previously there was only accounts from the first mate, and recently a second first hand account has been discovered from another crew member.

There are so many layers to appreciate about this story, the history of whaling, racism (crew members were local from Nantucket, the mainland, or of African American heritage), survival and what happens and what people are willing to do to survive, human psyche, the push to the west and our naval explorations. It is also interesting to note how the author compares the differences between the stories, and what the locals choose to remember and talk about when it came to the Essex.  It is also interesting to learn that this event was taught to America school children for years.

Very well told.  There were parts that I almost dreaded reading, and I was relieved when the rescue came for the surviving crew members.

Fascinating.  I will need to read Moby Dick (Melville was also a whaler and developed this story based on the Captain of the Essex) one day, and I definitely want to visit some of the San Juan islands again soon and check out the whaling museum there.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

A Walk in the Woods

I have wanted to read this one for a few years, and more so after finishing Wild earlier this year.  Talk about two very difference experiences, and two very different individuals relating their own personal experiences on their respective trails.

Wild takes place on the Pacific Crest Trail (west coast) and The Walk takes place on the Appalchian trail (east coast).  As far as folks go, I think I would prefer to kick back and have beers with Bill - and hear about his travel experiences and overall life philosophy than Cheryls'...

Bryson is known for his sense of humor, and I read one of his other books a few years ago (In a Sunburnt Country).  My impressions of Australia are definitely coloured by his words.  In the Walk, Bryson relates his attempt at covering a good portion of the AT with his friend Stephen, and at times solo.  Bryson includes a lot of historical information to supplement his impressions.  Bryson also has one helluva sense of humor, so you can appreciate a few laughs along the way. 

This is a good read.  I did appreciate the history, and the scant personal details that Bryson includes.  It made me appreciate being from the west more - from being from a pretty "wild" place that hasn't been domesticated and tamed for hundreds of years already. 

I have done a distance canoe circuit, and I would one day like to do the West Coast hiking trail along Vancouver Island.  Of course, each of these is just over 100km, where these trails are literally thousands of kilometers long and will take months to complete.  Very different scale.  I would also love to drive across Canada and come back through the United States - just to see.  Reading books like this makes me want to travel, and also appreciate that I am from the West, for so many different reasons. I am glad it is a little more wild, and a little less tame.  I am glad for our wild spaces, and different attitudes.

Friday, August 15, 2014

The end of or schedule summer programming....

Last night, I looked at Ken, and we both realized that we had reached the end of our planned summer activities.

Yes, the boys still have a week of daycare and a week of camp left, and Ken has a handful of days before he has to return to work, but all of things we had planned (with few exceptions) have come to pass.  The demolition derby was a riot (although really, really hot), and camping was good (I really miss having a campfire, it isn't quite the same), we spent time at the beach and some local parks, got a bit of a tan, made pickles, picked blackberries, and read a bunch of books.  The spontaneous stuff, like our day trip to Manning Park, and the scheduled stuff too.

Crazy.  We start the slide towards September and then the month of October.  I love Fall.  I love the slightly cooler weather and surprisingly warm days. The changing leaves, and fresh, local veggies, and the Corn Mae, pumpkins, decorating for Halloween… all that fun stuff.  I really, truly think we are a shoulder season family … Fall and Spring rock… summer and winter are great too… but something about those other seasons.

Grateful.

Every now and then a book comes along that rattles you a little bit.  Especially when you know it is grounded in true experiences.  I have a handful of pages left of the book, but for intents and purposes I am done, and I have a moment to throw down a few thoughts.

Wow.  What a life experience Amanda Lindhout and her friend Nigel Brennan went through.  I applaud their courage to write their stories, and to open themselves up to public opinion by offering up their stories.

I had no idea what this book was about when I picked it out.  I knew the cover was appealing (yes, choices can be that base), and that it was a recommended book that made a few top reads lists.

I am not sure where to begin about a book such as this.  This is the autobiography (of sorts) of Amanda, starting with some experiences previous to her capture by Somali teenage militants whom were looking for ransom money from Amanda's and Nigel's family in Canada and Australia. As I started to read this book, I realized that I could remember hearing about their story in the news a few years ago (2008) but really didn't dwell on it.  I remember images of them when they were free, but really, did not even grasp a glimmer of what they had survived.  In many ways, this is much like how you can't really appreciate the experiences of someone else until you have a few of your own, or have the luck (??) to be able to read or experience a slice of what happened to them through whatever form the story journey takes us on.

This is a beautiful and bleak novel.  Reading parts of it I could feel my insides clench with something, and feel my opinions shifting.  If reading 419 was one thing about Nigeria, this was a whole other thing reading about a personal experience in Somalia.  I am glad that I live in a culture that values life, and women.  I am glad that I am married to a good man, who loves me for who and what I am. After reading this book I am grateful for many things, including my freedom and the culture and land that I call home.  This is not the same around the world and the price of a life here is not the same as other places in this amazing world.  This is an important book to read.  It is very well written, and as I said in the beginning, I appreciate the courage and honesty it takes to make yourself vulnerable by telling this story.  I also appreciate Lindhout's honesty, and humble acknowledge of her naive mistakes and the costs so many people paid.  The grace she found within terrible circumstances, it reminded me of reading the "Man's Search for Meaning" by Victor Frankl.  Compassion and forgiveness, and consciously choosing to be positive in a world that can be a far cry from this is something that can set any of us apart.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

The ever changing ocean, down at the end of the lane

I would have to admit, this book caught me by surprise.  As I sit and reflect about my response to it, I think this is the kind of book that I would love to pick up again in a few years, and see how my perceptions and reactions to it have changed. 

This is one of true spinoffs to having a library card, a book club, and friends that read.  Being exposed to new and different books, ideas, dreams, poetry, and thoughts. I have always read a lot, and there have been times in my life where I have been far happier with the books that I have chosen to be reading, and this is one of those times in my life that I feel like there have been many, many good books crossing my desk and it is has been a pleasure to spend time between their covers.  I could not imagine a life without books.  I am so happy to see B totally immersed in the world of Harry Potter, and I can't wait for the next year to happen and to watch the gift of literacy truly take shape in C.

Back to the book at hand, this is well worth a read.  It is very short, like a long short story (175 pages).  It is poetic, whimsical, a little dark, exporatory, wonderfully vague, magical... I am sure I have missed a few adjectives that I could throw in to the mix.  There are website that summarize novels such as this better, but this is one that I think will stick with me for a while... it is profound, and poetic, and in some ways, it does defy description.

Novels like this explore our fears, and what it is like to be a child, growing up, and what we lose in reaching adulthood, that is not always accessible.

This was a pleasure to read, and I would recommend it as an intriguing and thought-provoking novel.



Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Back to a familiar series...

Definitely a summer read.

I have been spoiled by the last few books that I have been reading. I found a bit of the dialogue a bit stilted, and the content not nearly as inspiring (or as interesting) as the last few books that I have been reading.

Again, a quick read, and it was good to discover some of Reacher's backstory.  In a way, I wish that I had read these books in series, although you do not have to.  I can't say much profound about this book, except that it was a decent, quick read with some character development and plot twists, not neccessarily grounded in reality, but an escapist read. I do enjoy this for a bit of a break from the more literary books that I have been favouring as of late.  I must also note, that this book pushes me past how many I read for 2011.  Is this a result of going to the library and requesting books or because my kids are getting older and I have a little more breathing space?  Likely both, LOL.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Beach Bums.

I love going to the Beach.

This week, it feels like my summer vacation finally got started.

I also think that it takes me about 10 days before I start to relax.

Of course, now that I have started to catch up on sleep, it is almost 1am and I am catching up on my blog instead of my sleep.  Seems fitting.

Monday, was Centennial Beach.  What a find.  I loved it.  The only real downside is that the sand goes out forever.  I am not kidding.  For EVER.  Almost too far. Next time we come, I will plan it for when the tide is coming in.

Tuesday was Lynden City Park and then to Birch Bay.  The boys were a bit perturbed at how fast the tide came in.  Noted.

Today was White Rock. I love this beach.  Who am I kidding? Perhaps we should have just come here every day, but variety is good and I am glad that we checked out a few new beaches.  Fingers crossed we make it back to Centennial Beach on Friday - I have a hankering for a picnic with the whole family and to watch the sun go down.

Tomorrow is likely a spray park and then CW's graduation potluck from preschool.  Wow.  It is hard to believe that here we are.

Friday, local park in the morning to walk the dog since we will have Duke visiting, and then in the afternoon to the beach.

Caught by the cover, a nice surprise

At the library the other night, the cover of this book caught me.  It was a 7 day express read, so I really hesitated whether or not I should grab it, since I had already started a different book, and well, I saw it was only 250 pages so I thought - what the hell.  Worst case scenario, I take it back - no foul.

It was a lovely book.  I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I would categorize it under "chick lit". Or belonging to what I would widely label as such.  I have never heard of this author before, and this is one of the things that I am loving about my library card - new books, different authors. I will admit to more than one geeky moment because of my library card.  Only drawback is remembering when books need to go back and avoiding late fines.

It really feels like what I have been able to read lately has really taken off.  It does help having the card, and I enjoy being able to request books and have them magically appear on the hold shelf, it is a bit gratifying.  Much like how I really enjoy having my car insurance delivered rather than trying to figure out where to get it done and making sure it happens on the right day.  That it is my BFF's mom, makes it even sweeter.

Back to the book - maybe one of these days I need to come up with my own rating system rather than a few scribbled thoughts.  I really don't want to craft long winded reviews of books, but it is nice to track how I responded to the books that I am reading since I have discovered that I really do like being able to look back in to this window of "where my head was at" and what was I in to reading at the time.

Once again, back to the book at hand.  This is a partly a love story, and partly a feminine journey of rediscovery at age 60.  I like that the female lead was strong, and was likeable, and did make mistakes.  There are some very poetic passages, and I feel like Quindlen captured something in their story that left me with a nice, warm fuzzy.  Every now and then, books like this are lovely to pick up and enjoy without having to delve in and solve life's mysteries.  A satisfying read - quick, and perfect for summer.