Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Almost forty and two.

Even if this blog has evolved in to tracking knitting projects and the books that I have been reading, it is nice to have some kind of personal record as to where my head space was at a particular moment in time.  I have always made a point of trying to do a few entries around New Years, and of course, around my birthday.  I am hoping that this weekend we can at least make it out to White Rock.  The beach is calling my name, and I would love a plate of greasy fish and chips with my toes in the sand. Fingers crossed that this is what comes to be.

Another year has slipped by.  I look at runkeeper (an app where I track my walks) and you can tell where work, and therefore my life took a turn last year and got stupid busy. I pretty much stopped walking, and if I step on our Wii Fit board.. you can watch my weight slowly creep up during that period as well.  This April was a bit of a turning point - our trip to the island was amazing, and good for all of us. It was also a good mental reboot for me. Work is still demanding, but it isn't the brutal place I was in a year ago. We have transitioned to our new schools and daycares, and both boys seem to be doing better every day.  Kindergarten is such a transition year - a relief for the break in daycare fees from full-time care, but lots of learning and adjustments.  Not easy. At least the scale this morning finally went in the right direction. Proper portion sizes and getting enough exercise for me is tricky.I hope to continue on a slightly healthier path moving forwards.  Having both kids in so many sports helps to motivate me too - I need to catch up and I don't want to be looked upon as that mom that has let herself go while her kids are doing amazing physical things.

I will likely return and add more to this, when I have another moment.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Very quick read, indeed.


Reason why I love my library #50715

This counts as a book, right?

What to say about a book like this? I am glad to have read it, although it took me about 20 minutes, since it is a well thought speech.  Which is why I was able to get it from my library rather than having spent money on buying it.  That being said, the funds go to a worthwhile charity, so it is a positive thing... having read it in 20 minutes, you catch my drift.

There are some great quotes here, and some stuff she really nails on the head.  I can't remember any of the speeches from my university graduations, but I do remember watching the one at work when Sarah McLaughlin played the piano... that was magical.

Reading this, I like Rowling more. Reading this as B and I approach the last 300 pages of the Deadly Hallows makes me wish there were more HP books to read.  When I am back on a crime fiction kick, I will go back to her other books.. I am just not currently in that head space.  For some crazy reason, fantasy seems to be the alley I have found myself in.  A little Narnia, a little HP, a lot of the Magicians trilogy, and will be trying a book called "The Name of the Wind".  Add in Outlander and Game of Thrones, and crime fiction is not where I am at by any stretch of the imagination. For a quick read that you can chew on, definitely worth the time, especially if you have a borrowed copy.

Some random quotes from the book:

Rowling - Your qualifications, your CV, are not your life, though you will meet many people of my age and older who confuse the two.  Life is difficult, and complicated, and beyond anyone's total control, and the humility to know that will enable you to survive its vicissitudes.

Rowling - Imagination is not only the uniquely human capacity to envision that which is not, and therefore the found of all invention and innovation; it is arguably most transformative and revelatory capacity, it is power that enables us to empathize with humans whose experiences we have never shared.

Plutarch - What we achieve inwardly will change outward reality

Rowling - We touch other people's loves simply by existing

Rowling - We do not need magic to transform our world; we carry al the power we need inside ourselves already:  we have the power to imagine better

Seneca - As is a tale, so is life: not how long it is, but how good it is, is what matters

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Page after page, and then left

I really wanted to like this book. I really enjoyed Aktinson's Case Histories novels...

Think a literary version of the movie Ground Hog Day with Bill Murray... you know then one where he gets to do one day over and over again until he gets it right?

Funny, I almost started this review piece with the first birth you recognize of Ursula, our heroine, and I completely overlooked the first chapter, when she dies assassinating Hitler and Eva Braun in a coffee shop... This is the story of Ursula, and her family outside of London just before WWI.  Her father is a banker, and the family is fairly well to do.  It could have been a family novel, but Atkinson delves in to the idea of multiple lives, and if you change just one thing, what will happen next?! Many, many times "darkness falls" in this novel as Ursula succumbs to death's embrace - whether it be in birth, childhood accidents, the flu, war... each life is a little bit different with a different outcome.  Characters are a little different each time, and Ursula experiences echoes of her past lives.  This book has some good things going for it, it is interesting, and I enjoyed parts of the stories.  It does get a bit repetitive, and the stopping and starting (even if you don't always start back in 1910) got to be a bit much for me.  Likely for the same reason most short stories do not work for me.

After I got 300 pages in to this one, the story line shifted to Nazi Germany, and the next series of lives, and I lost the will to continue.  I tried to skim read through to the end, but knowing I had more exciting books from the library on my bedside table and the book had to go back in the morning, the desire to complete the book was gone.  After peeking at the last page, any last burning embers to know the whole book vanished in a puff of smoke.

This seems to be another polarizing novel - folks to tend to fall in to one camp or the other.  Yes, it is a great idea, yes, Atkinson is a good author, but really truly, somewhere along the line I stopped caring, and that is when I stopped turning the page.  Her next novel is about Ursula's brother Teddy, and although he was an interesting character and I am sure he has quite the story, I think I will be skipping this one.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Should I lament that this only a trilogy?

If the Magicians was good... this book was even better.

I have no idea how I truly ended up on a magical fantasy kick, but when the books are this good, it is hard to move on to other genres again.

This book focused on both Quentin and the crew in Fillory, and in providing Julia's back story and how she becomes a hedge witch (a witch that has not gone through the traditional route through Brakebills, she didn't make the cut in the exam and she wasn't supposed to remember the experience, but she did). The Magician King is a book that shows some pretty decent character development and growth, and there are times you do think that Quentin is really annoying, and the you don't like Julia very much.  Then you get to see them grow, and change through this novel, and by the end, you do have affection and care, because they aren't the persons they were at the beginning of this series.

I love that the characters go on quests in these novels, and that the whole point of going on a quest is the adventure and you have to go in to it with an open mind because you don't know what you are looking for until it has found you.  These stories also talk about how important it is to trust your instincts, and sometimes, to realize that you really aren't the chosen one, and that it is ok.  This is also a journey of acceptance, of pushing boundaries, of losing everything and rebuilding yourself, and of having never lost hope...

Note to self: I really must try to write these reviews after the I finish the books (yes I work some magic with the dates sometimes) rather than when I am completely immersed in the Magician's Land, thoroughly engaged in it, and madly trying to read it as quickly as possible to find out how things work out.

I have placed a hold on Book 3, and I have mixed feelings that this is only a trilogy, and therefore I only have about 400 more pages to go before the conclusion.  Sigh. See previous note to self.  I am bending my own time here.  Who I am kidding... I love this series.  What a total, welcome surprise. Up there with Potter and Narnia for me.  Will definitely get me thinking over time about these kinds of novels and the role that they play, especially as I am reading both Potter (with B) and the Narnia series (with C) and it all comes together nicely.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

No, I think it was me all along....

I am not quite sure how I stumbled along this one (trolling through the library lists perhaps), however, it was a surprisingly great read.

Right now, it feels like certain things are crossing my path because it might just be the right time that I am open to the "messages".  A few examples:

Move differently. (working on this one, see the earlier blog that I started to think about this).

Balance.  (a theme of my 40s that seems to be a little easier to contemplate as our kids are getting older).

Healthier lifestyle.  This has been a lifelong struggle for me.  Reading this book was liberating in sense.  I really appreciate her honesty in talking about her body, her personal relationships, her relationship with food, and how she changed her course. I have always been a little overweight.  Maybe what attracted me to this book was the picture on the front.  That girl could  have been me.  Hence, when I was thinking about a title for this post, that was the most natural thing to call it. Andie talks about the times she felt like her body betrayed her (for not being the right size) and how she emotionally ate.  She talks about how food was a constant companion when her life fell apart, and how things came to a head when she was 20 and ate her entire birthday cake.  There are some food excesses that I just can't relate to, but I can relate to feeling like my body betrayed me, the resentment I have felt when clothes shopping, and the love I have felt for shoes because I have been a "10" as long as I can remember. A lot of the time I don't look in the mirror, and I am critical of the images I see in photos.  In this current moment, I am starting small.  My goals are to eat more vegetables, and to exercise at least 30 minutes a day. I have used my elliptical more in the last week (only twice) than I have in the last year since I bought it (which was twice, okay, equal amount as of the writing of this).  I am worth the time to take better care of myself. I want to weigh less. I want to feel better in how I look in shorts.  I want to feel like I have more endurance, and more physical capability. I want to zipline and not be worried about my overall weight. This book will help because it showed me a success story.  Every piece won't match, but the decision that Andie made, the times she stumbled, and her honesty will help me in my journey.

Worthiness. I am worth a haircut, going to massage therapy on occaison, and for a good coffee.  I am worth taking the time to take proper breaks, to take time out to walk, and time out to read my favourite books.  It is so easy to put yourself last, and take care of everyone else's needs (even the house and that cat), but it is also important to take care of ourselves.  We are so worth it.  Why are we training to feel that we aren't, even when we are bombarded with messages that say "just do it"???

Saying No, and being okay with it. This came up on Friday in a PD workshop that I was in, and it comes up in life as a woman, and a mom.  Maybe even as a people pleaser in the past who bent over backwards to help people.  It can be okay to say NO.  People do it all the time.  It is part of being honest, and setting ourselves up for success.  Sometimes we need a reminder about this.

Andie also has a blog, and there are some interesting tidbits. I am glad I read this book, I am glad to be in a place where I can take and leave the parts that work, and don't work for me.  I have thought about this book for a few days, and I am hopeful my bookclub may want to read it... I think that a truly interesting and vulnerable conversation will happen through this (not that we don't already have some pretty great conversations). It is also funny how after you read a very personal story like this, you do feel like you could be on a first-name basis with a complete strange.  Telling our stories is important.  It is part of our process, and it can truly help other people who need the inspiration.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Even if you aren't a fan of rowing... worth a dive between these pages

This book has a lot of things going for it, IMHO.  I don't read a lot of non fiction books, but it seems that when I do, they are about sports.  I believe in the power of sport (whatever one happens to float your boat), and what can happen through and as a result of sport for both individuals and communities.

There are many different ways that you could speak about this book.  This group of young men that came together in Seattle to become the victorious crew in the Berlin Olympics of 1936 is inspiring.  That they managed their feat with the backdrop of the great depression, and then the rise of Hitler adds yet another layer.  That this was a west coast team with humble roots that emerged victorious, is yet another element to this Olympic tale of resilience, perseverance, and team work.

This is a great book.  It is one I may purchase so all my boys can read it at a later date.  Brown really captures something about the time, about the West Coast, about rowing, and even offers a different viewpoint in to Germany in the 1930s.  As someone who read a lot of Holocaust literature, this provides a different lens to viewing Germany and a new entry point in to the history from a different point of view. This is also about the poetry of being on the water, of growing together in to a team, and about what happens to individual when they persevere in the face of difficulty. Each chapter starts with a quote from George Pocock, and I actually read them. Many of them are quietly profound.  There heartbreaking moments in this novel, and moments that lift your heart.  What more can you hope for from a book?  Definitely an inspiring read, and well worth your time to read.

I do think that we stumble on the right books, at the right time.  Sometimes for entertainment, and sometimes for more obscure reasons (such as lessons we need to learn or new thoughts to have bloom in our imagination).  This book is inspiring.  It is a quick read, it easily weaves a few personal stories with the larger picture.  For me, I remember being an undergraduate and wishing that I had the courage to go up to the rowing table and join the club.  I loved to row (just a plain old rowboat) when I was a kid visiting my grandparents in Sechelt, and to canoe, and I just didn't have the gumption at the time to walk up to that table.  I wish I did, but looking back, hockey was starting to figure pretty big in my life at the time, and I don't think I would have had the time for both sports.  I did dragon boating for three years, which already feels like a lifetime ago, and I loved it.  What I would like to do next is outrigger.  My goals for 2015 would be to get myself out paddle boarding in White Rock at least once this year, and to figure out how I can get myself out on the water in my local community.  I don't see hockey happening for me anytime soon, and perhaps this is the time to get back out on a boat.  In this way, this book has been a reminder for me, the peace that I feel out on the water, and the satisfying feeling of being with a team that has accomplished something physical together.  For me, there is also the lessons about working together as a team, of finding your "swing" as a group, and about giving yourself up to trusting your team.  This can be about anything in life, even your closest friendships, family, and your spouse.  It is also about the investment of time in to yourself, and the people that are part of your team.  This for me is especially true when I think about work and the people around me.  We haven't always gotten along, and there are times when I could say that things weren't well.  There is also something equally to be said about when you stick it out and persevere, time passes, and you are able to work through the challenges and get to somewhere you would never have ended up if things had always been 'sunshine and rainbows'.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The right coast.

I love the BC coast. I could not imagine living anywhere else.  I love the forest, I love the ocean.  I love the great blue skies (when you can see them) and I love the rain that falls... hmmm... that weirdly started to sound like the "Discovery Song"!  The last week truly felt like a gift spending time first  with my immediate family, and then more of our other family members.

It has been an amazing week since I left work a week ago. 

We travelled through Duke Point - what a different ferry experience, especially considering that this is one of the busiest travel weekends of the year.  It was great.  Everything went smoothly coming and going, and we didn't have to pay for any reservation fees.  I think we have this down to a fine art.

We stayed two days in Parksville at Beach Acres (love it) and then two days at my coz's place in Nanaimo.  Over the last few years, we have worked on a great tradition.  To Nanaimo for Easter, and for them to come out our way for Thanksgiving.  It has worked out well.  It seems like every time we get together, it is getting easier, and more fun. 

Wednesday was a good day - we had lunch with my Aunt Sue, and then we checked in at BA.  We went for dinner at the British Bobby (interior decor was cool but the fish and chips didn't quite hit the expected mark), and then back for a campfire on the beach.  It took a few times to get it going, but it was awesome being on the beach, with a campfire, and having the first marshmellows of the season. I am not sure if we should have introduced s'mores... the boys have  a wee addiction to them now...

Thursday was amazing.  We did it all.  We started at Englishman River Falls and all of us went to the stunning upper falls.  C and I hiked around to the lower falls where K and B picked us up.  Compared to the unexpected beauty and bounty of the upper falls, the lower falls were a bit anticlimatic.  These falls floored me and literally brought a tear to my eye.  They are almost shaped like a wide horseshoe, and then they cascade in to a cut in the rock and then travel for about a 100 feet before they start to plunge down again.  There was a lot of mist in the air, everything was damp, and the trees reached up to the heavens.  It was one of those magical places that catch you off guard.

Next up, Little Qualicum Falls.  This time we started at the lower falls, and then C and I walked around to the upper falls.  It was really nice, but I think we were a little spoiled having been to Englishman River first.  At the upper falls, there was a memorial to a kid that had fallen in to the falls a few years ago - 17 years old.  This falls under a 'preventable' accident.. and we do talk to our boys about them.  There is something to be said about 'calculated' risks.  We had lunch in the parking lot - surrounded by forest, and the sounds of birds.

We hit the highway, followed the shores of Cameron Lake (reminds me of Crescent Lake in the Olympic Forest in WA) and then stopped at Cathedral Grove.  It has been a few years since we have stopped here, and it continues to be breathtaking.  Seeing the old growth trees, and touching them, and breathing in the rich, fertile soils, it puts things in perspective how tiny each of our individual lives are.  We accidentally did the "longer" walk... and all of it was great.  I think the kids really enjoyed it too - this is the important stuff for them to remember...

Then we hit Coombs for some snacks, and then to the Community Park near the beach in Parksville, and then back to BA for a swim and hot tub, and then out to Rathtrevor Beach for a walk (love it there...) saw a few eagles and had a up close and personal experience with a few deer, and then we hit Starbucks for some teas and hot chocolates and hit the community beach (reminded me of parking with my gran when we used to visit - we would get coffees and sit near the beach in later years) and then finally home.  It was an awesome day.

Then up the coast and back to Nanaimo for a great time with our family.  K got to go fishing with the boys on Saturday and the girls took the kids bowling and to the park.  We ended up having a crab feast at midnight, and we caught an early ferry home on Sunday.  All of it was good.  Great experiences, good food, our kids had a lot of fun together... K and I even got to have our coffees together on the beach alone on Friday morning... like our trip to Seattle last November... this was a much needed break and good time for us to be together.