Archive for the ‘My World’ Category

Hello, hello!

Can this be true?! My last post was on May 29th?

Oh, dear. How did that happen?

Life has been exceedingly busy, mostly in positive ways with a dash of challenge thrown in to keep me humble. In stolen moments here and there I’ve been reading some lovely things, and I really must write about them.

Soon.

But not tonight.

And probably not tomorrow night, either. Maybe on Sunday. So far that day is looking free. Tomorrow (Thursday) I need to be in town all day, ditto Friday, and Saturday is my niece’s wedding, so no prizes for guessing that nothing will happen blog-wise till I find myself at home and alone, or as alone as one can be with four others drifting in and out at unpredictable hours.

The pattern of my year to date, this has been. I do enjoy my solitude as a rule, but circumstances are working against me in this area of my life at present, so I’m having to adapt.

I did run away for five days last week, with the farm truck and camper, to attend a print-making workshop with Hans-Christian Behm at Island Mountain Arts in Wells, and what an astoundingly rewarding time that was. It brought home to me so very sharply how deeply satisfying it is to be amongst artists, with the conversations that ensue once everyone has settled into their groove, and the validation that those conversations give.

During the four evenings I was away, I ducked out of the many invitaions offered up to me of dinners and various other diversions after hours, and instead retreated to my house-on-wheels and made myself the simplest of meals, after which I read and read and read. Heaven.

I didn’t read anything overwhelmingly new-to-me and exciting, mostly some of the more sedate O. Douglas novels (Pink Sugar, Eliza for Common), and a disappointingly bland Ngaio Marsh I hadn’t read before – Hand in Glove – and a slightly obscure (and probably deservedly so) Rumer Godden – The Lady and the Unicorn. Also E.F. Benson’s very first novel, Dodo, 1893, which was a far, far different thing than the gloriously daft Lucia sequence of the 1920s and 30s. I then returned to Anna Buchan, with her autobiographical Unforgettable, Unforgotten, which is absolutely stellar and a must-read for any O. Douglas lover, as the originals of many of the characters and scenarios depicted in her books are described as they were in their first form.

Now I’m delving into Beverley Nichols, following him happily Down the Garden Path, and with that I will leave you for tonight, to read about a long-ago English garden, and perchance to dream about my somewhat neglected modern Canadian counterpart.

I do hope everyone is having a lovely summer! Wishing you all green thoughts in a green shade, which reference I am guessing many of you will “get”, and for those who don’t, the clues are Marvell and Perenyi.

Good-night, all!

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

Parachuting in from my desperately overfull real world to touch base with you all, to say that yes, I am still here. Feathers (if I were a bird) ruffled, fur (if I were a cat) stroked backwards, the opposite of easy in my mind.

It’s been an eventful month, March 2018 has. Some good stuff, some blissfully funny, some simply bad, some desperately sad.

As regular readers of these posts know, early on in the month I crashed my car (bad!) but everyone involved came away mostly unscathed (good!) Which I think rather started things; it’s been roller-coastering ever since.

Subsequently we’ve all sorts of out of the ordinary things happening, too many to detail, but here are a few examples.

There’ve been a series of vet visits with a couple of our problem creatures: an elderly farm dog with a knack for raising the ire of the cow with the most accurate dog-bashing kick, and a stray cat who wandered in and won our hearts, to the extent that we have officially adopted him and set in process that whole thing where he’s being vet-inspected and neutered and vaccinated and then introduced properly to the rest of the very well-entrenched cat tribe. All seemed well, but then the poor fellow started up an infection from an old war wound, plus he developed a vaccine reaction, necessitating multiple extra veterinary visits, dollars being tossed about with wild abandon. No good deed goes unpunished, I guess – isn’t that how the story goes?

The very weather has been messing with us. It’s been unseasonably cold many days, and very snowy. But then one warm day last week some of that snow melted too fast, and our road washed out. (It’s now fixed.)

Another blip, as we almost ran out of firewood for our plant nursery greenhouses, when our usually reliable wood guy broke down one weekend and then fell ill with the flu the next. We’ve managed to forage a load ourselves to keep things going, but the stack is getting mighty small – a more than niggling worry. Tonight the forecast is for minus 14 degrees Celsius, which means one of us will be up in the wee hours, putting more of that precious wood on the stoves and tinkering with the fans.

Al of this stuff has turned out to be utterly trivial, though, as something truly awful has happened, putting all this day-to-day fussing and fretting into absolute perspective.

The phone rang several mornings ago, with my elderly mother-in-law on the line. My husband’s oldest sister had just died, very suddenly. She had been having some health issues with a lung condition, but it had seemed to be under control.

We’re all still in a state of shock, I think, trying to process the news. So very unexpected.

What fragile things our lives are. Take nothing for granted, it can change in a second.

Please go give your close-by dear ones a hug, and maybe call those far away.

Here’s hoping my next post will be an utterly mundane thing about books. Well, April is a whole new month, isn’t it?

Wishing you all a peaceful and happy Easter (for those that celebrate it), and a kindly spring, as the days get longer and the warm time comes again. Except of course for those in the other hemisphere – best wishes for a gentle seasonal change where you are, too.

One foot after the other, keep stepping along.

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

I’ve been mulling over whether I should say anything about what happened to me six mornings ago, or if it crosses the line into the dreaded “too much information”, but as a number of you are my “real life” friends, and others well into established cyber-friend territory, I think I’ll go ahead.

Friends, I had a brush with death the other day. It was that close. I thought it was over – I had enough time to formulate that thought, and was most surprised to find myself alive.

Without getting into too much detail, here’s the scoop. Icy road, shady corner, lost control of my car, spun into oncoming traffic, hit another car, the impact spun us both out of the way of an oncoming transport truck, with a whisker of room to spare.

Both cars were totalled, but both cars did what they were designed to do – passenger compartments remained intact though slightly compressed, seatbelts worked, airbags went off. We – the other driver and myself – walked away. Bruised and throughly shaken up, but alive and essentially well.

I haven’t actually seen the police report yet, but the gist of what I was told by a most soothing officer was that they were taking road conditions into account, that we were very, very lucky, and that I should go home and take it easy for a few days.

My insurance adjuster assures me that the other driver’s expenses will be taken care of – she was from out-of-country, visiting friends here. We shared an ambulance ride to town and she was beyond decent about being crashed into by a random stranger. One of those things, she said, very calmly.

I am very glad I didn’t kill her. (Understatement, in spades.)

It’s a rather surreal feeling, to realize that one has been given what amounts to a second chance. It was that close.

So here I am, feeling like I’m suddenly on the other side of something big. Which I guess I am, aren’t I?

Back to normal.

Life, precious life, goes on.

 

 

Read Full Post »

Well, here we are again.

Is it just me, or did 2017 go past in a special kind of blur? I suspect a lot of us feel rather battered by the twelve months now drawing to a close. This year has been a challenging one in ways large and small for so many in our circle and beyond. That elusive “balance” which we strive for has been a hard thing to maintain, as the losses mount up and deep griefs are endured.

Personally speaking, I’m quietly joyful to be greeting the New Year tomorrow morning, though I suspect I will be in bed sleeping as the clock ticks over at midnight tonight. Which in itself will be a good thing, as sleep has often been elusive this past year, and starting 2018 well rested will surely be an auspicious thing!

I don’t generally do much in the way of making resolutions with the start of each new year, but it is nonetheless a time of reflection, and one tends to analyze what did and didn’t go as planned, and what one wishes one had done.

In relation to this blog, I do wish I had posted more often, as I genuinely miss the interaction with fellow readers of (mostly) older books. No promises, but instead a quiet “intention” to get on here more. Even if the posts are mere snippets, a sentence or two versus longer-winded essays, because I certainly do enjoy reading other people’s brief posts as much as I do their longer ones. And pictures are always a real pleasure to view, so I will try to share glimpses of my world a little more frequently.

Not sure if I can muster up a year-end book list to share – my reading year is also something of a blur! – but we’ll see what tomorrow brings, as I am likely to be enjoying a measure of solitude as my family will all be off elsewhere on New Year’s Day. They’ll be home in the evening, and that will be lovely, but earlier on there will be time for solitary reading and writing, and I may just have some thoughts to share.

I am reading my way into 2018 with an engaging bit of vintage literature, Elizabeth Bowen’s 1963 novel, The Little Girls.

I’m a Bowen neophyte, having sampled her on occasion but never quite being drawn in, but I’m well on my way with this one and enjoying it. It’s not nearly the nostalgically melancholic thing I thought it might be with its old-school-friends-meeting-after-many-years-apart theme; there’s instead a sardonic wryness going on which I am finding paradoxically appealing.

Shades of Rose Macaulay, perhaps? Another writer who must be tackled when the mood is just right, and when one has patience enough to slow down and savour the complexities of the writing. For so far I have been spending a fair bit of time re-reading sentences, as Bowen is a bit of a twisty writer, in a pleasurably artful sort of way.

I hope you have all been having a happy holiday season. Belated Merry Christmas to those of you who are of that faith and culture, and best wishes to everyone else at this time of contemplation and celebration as the year turns over with the Solstice. A full moon will be shining tonight, which seems a good omen for the year to come, lighting our way forward into the unknown.

Warm wishes from me to all of you, fellow readers. May 2018 bring you the best books and peaceful times to read them!

Read Full Post »

I kept writing and rewriting this post, and it just wouldn’t come together.

Delete it all, condense and post the darned thing. No more funk. Here we go.

As many of you know, I live in central British Columbia, Canada. Smack dab in the middle of the region known as the Cariboo-Chilcotin. The Fraser River flows past my door. We are surrounded by forest on all sides. Beautiful forest, miles and miles of it, millions of acres of it. And it’s been really, really dry.

Now a bunch of it is on fire.

A month ago, July 7, this started up in my neighbourhood. This picture was taken from the upper hillside of our farm, an hour or so after a dry lightning storm passed through our region, sparking over a hundred forest fires, including these two.

The good news is that in four weeks these two particular fires have basically burned parallel to our river, above the escarpment, and joined up to form a united “complex”, as the forest service wildfire people call it.

Topography has been in our favour, as have been the prevailing winds. Fireguards have been built around some of the more troublesome bits, air support has quenched worrisome flareups. While anything could still happen given the right extremes of hot weather and strong wind – or another lightning storm – for now we’re looking good.

That tragically can’t be said for a lot of the rest of our region. Many of the other fires are bigger and angrier, and they are raging along out of control, being beat back here and there by the efforts of thousands of professional firefighters, logging crews, farmers and ranchers and First Nations “fire warriors”. Whole communities have been mass evacuated, major highways closed. Life for many is standing still as they wait things out far from the flames and the dense, stinking smoke; others are very much on the front line, fighting to save their homes and those of their neighbours.

People we know have lost their beloved houses; some have had hair’s breadth escapes from personal disaster. So much has been consumed!

This is utterly personal. The fire map looks like a guidebook to places we’ve lived in, wandered through, known and very much loved. We’re in a state of quiet grieving for the changes to our special places, while knowing that for others the loss is much more immediate and tangible. Survivor’s guilt lurks in the corner of one’s mind.

So there it is. Summer of 2017. One to remember, and it’s far from over yet.

I’ll leave you with a lighter note, book related.

When the smoke plumes on July 7 billowed ever higher, and a further investigation from a higher point revealed us to be surrounded by a total of six big smokes and numerous little ones, we made haste to develop a get-out-quick plan. We rounded up our pets, discussed a strategy for the farm creatures, and threw together some crucial belongings.

This done, we looked around to see what precious things we should save, if worst came to worst. Photo albums were obvious; these were packed up and stacked by the door. Computer back-up drives, cameras. My daughter collected her writings and her artwork. “Are you going to take any books?” she asked me, as I dithered between peering out at the status of our personal smoke plumes and checking and rechecking the forest service’s wildfire alert web page.

Where would one even start, in a personal library consisting of thousands of books?

It was easier than you’d think, and perhaps odder.

I must report that in the case of natural disaster, my most treasured possessions to be salvaged from flood or fire apparently consist of the four earliest (and exceedingly hard to come by) novels by my beloved Margery Sharp. (And my mother’s wedding ring.)

I’ve now had a month to mull over that book list, and it has remained exactly the same. In the meantime I’ve unpacked and re-read all four, and kept them handy, just in case. I might just add several more…

Onward we go, looking over our shoulders but basically getting on with things, feeling a bit like we’re living in the eye – or at least on the edge! –  of a fiery hurricane.

We sure could use some rain.

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

Greetings, everyone. Hope you all had a lovely spring. Ours went past in a flash, and here we are staring summer down. My goodness, the years certainly don’t go by any slower as one ages, do they?

As many of you know, I operate a small perennial plant nursery, and May and June this year were our very busiest ever in the twenty-plus years I’ve been doing this. It became evident early on that something had to give, and I prioritized severely, meaning that a.) The Blog, and b.) Housekeeping, and c.) Weeding, fell completely by the wayside.

Fellow gardeners will understand my mixed feelings at seeing this lovely but forboding vignette in my perennial border!

With a bit of headway now made in addressing the two-month-long neglect of the last two, I am feeling an increasingly urgent pull to get back into writing-about-reading mode. I did keep reading through my long blog silence, though my progress was often in pages per day versus chapters. No book-a-day, that’s for sure!

And I did read some marvelous things. Sadly they are mostly a bit of a blur, so I have that as an excuse to re-read them all in future, and talk about them then. Best to start fresh with July’s reads, I think.

Thanks to the Dean Street Press “Furrowed Middlebrow” imprint, I’ve made the acquaintance of some long out-of-print writers, and most engaging I’ve found them all to be. Ursula Orange, for example. After acquiring the three newly reprinted DSP-FM titles of hers, Begin Again, Tom Tiddler’s Ground, and Company in the Evening, I treated myself to a well-worn first edition (1945) of Portrait of Adrian, which I’m just finishing up. I do believe that will be the subject of my next post.

In the meantime, wishing all a very happy summer, with time to seek out some cool shade and a comfortable chair, and sink into a pleasurable book.

And of course, seeing that it’s July 1st, happy Canada Day to my fellow Canadians!

Though I must acknowledge that this year the holiday seems a bit fraught with angst regarding a variety of societal concerns, which I won’t get into here, merely to mention that the buzz phrases of the current discussion are “tradition of colonialism” and “indigenous experience”.  Big serious topics, and I give them a nod, though I won’t be going any deeper than the most superficial referencing in this particular forum.

Read Full Post »

Looking for spring? Go south!

The end of March, and the snow lingers on… The vista in our neck of the woods a week or so ago.

Spring is coming hard this year. It‘s still below zero almost every night, there’s an awful lot of ice on the riverbank and piled up on the sandbars, and there are still a few snowbanks in the shady spots. Nary a bit of green on any tree, though there are burgeoning leaf buds on the lilacs and cottonwood trees.

What’s a yearning-for-spring gardener to do, then, but to throw an overnight bag in the car, summon a travelling companion, and head out on a little horticultural road trip?!

Using the excuse of a plant show and sale put on by a garden club we belong to (long distance, as it were), we headed off to Vancouver – seven non-stop hours by car away – for a whirlwind round of visiting the two major botanical gardens, hobnobbing with fellow botanists, admiring the spectacular specimens in the plant show, and (of course!) spending far too much money on new-to-us plants.

Oh, and we did hit a few used book stores, too. With predictable results.

Back home now, with heads full of garden dreams, and a stack of potentially wonderful reading material to fill up the few extra minutes between our very late evening meals and lights-out.

The posting silence lately can be blamed squarely on the season. Good intentions galore, and some interesting things piling up on the “must deal with” stack, but I just can’t focus…

Shall try harder.

As recompense for the recent blog silence, here are a very few glimpses of what we saw on our recent travels. It’s spring down south!

The most beautiful Pasque Flowers I’ve ever yet seen – Pulsatilla grandiflora, University of British Columbia Botanical Garden, Vancouver, B.C., March 31, 2017.

Our native Skunk Cabbage, Lysichiton americanus. None showing here yet, but in full exotic bloom in warmer climes. UBC Botanical Garden, March 31, 2017.

Too tender for our region, but a high point of spring coastal visits – glorious magnolias at UBC, March 31, 2017.

Rose-like Camellias bloom in the mild coastal rain. Van Dusen Botanical Garden, Vancouver, B.C., April 1, 2017.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »