Monday, January 1, 2018

Fave Reads 2017

Working on another degree, I do a lot of reading. I love what I'm learning and it's rewiring my brain. But it's hard work. So it means I savour taking time away from academics just to read a few stories and inhabit some spaces that catch my eye. These are the ones I loved this year.

Terrific graphic novel.
This author loves words
and their many meanings.
Also goldfish.
And how deep a
well pain can be. 
Devoured this. Felt
stronger & more
hopeful. Felt like
resistance &
persistence. Everyone
should read this.
Illustrated philosophy.
A humble artist's voice
about how to be just
"half a shade braver."
Merricat is memorable.
And it's a little scary
to let her into your head.
She lingers, both heroic
and heinous. 
Scenes in this book
still resonate with me.
Dogs' inner narratives
reveal humanity. 

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Lang May Yer Lum Reek.

The fireplace in The Great Hall at Edinburgh Castle, Scotland. 
We just watched fireworks in Northern Alberta. And it's -30 C! Two parts impressive and one part yikes. Various New Years Eve celebrations were scaled back or cancelled all across Canada this year. I also read that Scotland's weather interfered with Hogmanay. Yet, thankfully, good people all over the world find a way to celebrate all things hopeful. As they say in Scotland (definitely missing you right now), Lang may yer lum reek.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Things that deserve the stink-eye (nerds edition):

Walking to work last month, my friend noticed something so she sent me this photo: far below, a light shining on the ice surface below the bridge. Following is a summary of our conversation over the next week.

Her: Things that deserve the stink-eye...this glowing light is a cell phone on the river. #strangerthings

Me: MY IMAGINATION IS ON FULL THROTTLE. What if that's Barb down there?! IN THE UPSIDE DOWN?!

Her: AND SHE'S SENDING US A MESSAGE!

Honestly I couldn't wait to walk home and see for myself. And yup, I saw the little green light too. So I texted her back...

Me: The light is still there! I'm shook.

Walking to work mornings and evenings, we texted for the next week; we even considered venturing onto the river, but no because, death. Yet the "cell phone" continued to glow. C'mon though: WHAT CELL PHONE HAS A LIGHT THAT REMAINS ON THAT LONG?

Eventually the light faded...

And that's when we realized...


Indeed, my friend. It. Is.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Things that deserve the stink-eye:

even my car's message centre has started to sound as illiterate as Trump (rage-tweeting about everyone but Fox News).

As a Scot might say, he's a blethering
numpty eejit.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Things that deserve the stink-eye:

A few days ago, I went to a team meeting away from my regular work-site and discovered when I arrived that I was wearing two different shoes. One gray. One black. One with a thicker heel than the other. Um....

What can you do but laugh? (I've actually done this before.) So I showed everyone at my meeting and we laughed and laughed. Did I mention I'm the oldest one on our team? I really enjoy working with those toddlers though, so no big whoop.

Then...I texted my wife a photo and she laughed too.

Returning to work the following day, I made an usual discovery...first one co-worker...then another....then another...then another....

My sneaky wife! I felt a simultaneous aching sheepishness and utter love for those charming buggers I work with. What's better than that?



































Sunday, September 10, 2017

Things one should never outgrow:

Sometimes I recall so clearly the pull of lakes and rivers from my youth.

Looking into water is like that suspension of disbelief that occurs while watching a good film.

I have read that seeing water triggers our overstimulated brains to rest, and that swimming resets our circadian rhythms and restore healthy sleep patterns.

Water rages in many parts of the world today, but I am hoping that soon there is a rippling stream or a lake or even a pond in your life, some simple calm, some reflection.

Whether within it or not, water immerses us.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

A Good Look

The Firth of Forth, on toward the North Sea,
North Berwick, Scotland







































My wife and I spent ten days in Scotland this summer (and one weekend in London). What a dream.

I kept a journal. But first, why Scotland? Our anniversary gift to each other. And my heritage. On both sides. Some of my earliest memories are of visiting my maternal great-grandparents in Saskatoon. I couldn't decipher the content of their discussions due to their Scottish accents but they fascinated me. And we ate toast with tea. I always thought they looked a little pissed off and they seemed to be arguing much of the time. While visiting the Edinburgh Fringe comedy festival, a comedienne explained Glasgow face: bitter, brows down accompanied by a gruff voice (translated as 'appy to see yer).  Lightbulb.

Back to the journal. Giddy, with some highlights:

  • Scottish breakfasts are massive and amazing, odes to protein, haggis included.
  • deep fried fish and chips and mushy peas
  • respect for diversity in art and architecture and urban development, and seriously the best Indian food I've ever eaten
  • a pop-up library in Glasgow
  • Thrift store charity shops all over the UK
  • once locals determined we are Canadian they immediately began to trash-talk Trump, "why would they elect that vile, vile man?" Good question. Perhaps the only redeeming thing about Trump: he helps bring people together, bonded in confusion and distaste. 
  • taking the train through the highlands, all the waterfalls and rusty-red deer, very Harry Potter
  • the Scottish flag painted on a rock high above Ft. William
  • pipers on many street corners
  • Inverlochy castle
  • Arthur's Seat
  • Crabbie's Ginger Beer
  • JK Rowling's old writing spot, The Elephant Room (apple pie and scotch)
  • everything about North Berwick: the beach, Mary Brown, the Lobster Shack, cemetery stories, scones with butter and jam
  • climbing the Scott monument
  • the closes along the Royal Mile
  • finding the home where my great-grandmother and her siblings spent family time together
  • Grassmarket in Edinburgh, and the dungeons at Edinburgh castle
  • rain and cool weather
  • the statue of Winston Churchill in Parliament Square and taking a boat down The Thames
  • our airbnb neighbourhood, Islington, London where we had a salted caramel & popcorn milkshake with a shot of whiskey at the Screen on the Green while watching Dunkirk.


All of it, beauty. I must say, it is most pleasing to have a good look at the world. 

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Full Cup

We've all had the is-the-cup-half-full conversation. I've been thinking a lot about this debate lately, and the people in my life whose perspectives has greatly influenced mine. Sadly, one man whose point of view always pointed me toward realism will now be missing from my life much, much too soon. Dear friends: I urge you not to surround yourself with people who agree with you all the time. Like the saying goes, if everyone in the room is thinking the same way, then no one is thinking. We only grow through challenges.

Despite the unfair loss of his voice, I seek to remain optimistic and hopeful, yet, thanks to him, realistic too. Because, let's be honest, the cup may only be half full of water but it's also half full of air. If you ask me, that's a full cup.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Past Imperfect

All summer, in a nod to Canada's 150th birthday, the Art Gallery of Alberta is featuring Canadian art, photography, and sculpture as well as Andy Warhol's Wayne Gretzky prints. Aptly titled Past Imperfect, visitors are invited to write postcards to mail or to add their voices to the exhibit for others to read. There's also a wall display of notes from Canadians describing what they love about Canada.

I was encouraged to read these postcards, these modern, inclusive, Canadian voices: a person offering support to LGBTQ Canadians, a writer questioning why some Canadian Indigenous communities don't have clean water, and an immigrant, who when questioned, described her Canadian boyfriend's ethnicity as "human."

Exactly: human aka humane aka benevolent.
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