July 19th

Day 201 — An unsettled day here in Alberta.  Sunny, but not very warm, then thunder and rain later in the day.  Managed to get some more weeding done — God, will I ever be done? — and then ran off to an appointment.  Things are shaping up all around.

A quiet evening at home.  Finished the first book in the Game of Thrones series.  Loved it.  But am going to go on to something else now.  Read the book on my Kobo.  Also loved it.  But, I miss the weight and heft of an actual book, and the slippery, whispery sound of pages turning.  There’s a secret sort of anticipation in that turning of a page with your hand.  The eye follows anxiously, wondering with a thrill what is coming next.

So now all I have to do is decide which of the twenty or so books I have left to read will be the one.  Choices, choices.

June 27th

Day 179 — Day one of the holidays — and it was lovely.  Got up went for a nice long walk along a different path.  Not the usual 30 minute circuit Heather and I usually navigate when I’m working.  The air was warm, even though we’d had a helluva storm last night.  Lots of thunder and lightning, and, of course, rain.  But, other than a couple of slight showers that was supposed to be the end of the 40 days and 40 nights we’ve been enduring.

I did a lot of little things today — made pineapple marmalade, tidied the house, took care of small chores I’ve been putting off since forever.  I even found time to read my book outside on the deck a couple of times.  (In case you hadn’t figured it out, my deck is my favorite place to be in the summer time.)

For dinner I made crab cakes and salad with asparagus on the side.  Of course, I ate it outside.  Then I finished off a nice little glass of white zinfandel and read a few more pages of my book before going back out into the garden.

I love not working!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

A month of my holidays is nearly done.  But I can’t sigh about it.  No, I’ve been having a wonderful time.  And, I’m looking forward to the next four weeks with a happy heart.

Am I looking forward to going back to work?  No way!  But, unless I win that fabled lottery, that’s where I’ll be heading.  And, it will be okay, because I’ve had such a great summer.

I managed to get the basement bedroom painted and redecorated before my parents arrived — which was a big job.  I decided to cover the ceiling with wallpaper — a pretty idea, but a bit of a trial.  I scraped stucco, I washed until I thought I was going to wash all the paint off and then I re-painted.  Patched and painted.  In the end, I was very pleased with my (and Tim’s) efforts.  I learned how to install a light fixture (got a shock for my efforts — nothing I ever want to repeat), and learned how to install baseboards and trim.  I have now decided I need to go out and buy my own set of tools to handle small repair jobs around the house.

Why have I waited until I’m 54 to do this?  The mind boggles.

But, anyway.  On with my wonderful summer.  I have read three books!  Three!  Sitting outside on my deck in the sunshine.  It has been totally wonderful to do that.  Some of that time was spent in the company of my mother.  The two of us, noses in books just sitting there enjoying the pages and the warmth.  Lovely.

We took my parents up to the mountains for a few days.  Stayed in Canmore at the gorgeous Lodges at Canmore.  Very comfortable condo-style accommodations with a full kitchen, two bedrooms and baths, a balcony with a bbq.  Was nice to be able to get up and have coffee without having to run out to a restaurant.

We spent a day just taking Mom and Dad around sight-seeing.  We went up to Lake Minnewanka with the idea of going out for a boat tour, but it was ridiculously expensive and Mom didn’t really relish the idea of being on a boat anyway, so we opted to take a short walk along the shoreline.  Dad, Tim and I walked to the lower falls at Johnson’s Canyon, a spectacular walk along a board walk built alongside the mountain wall.  We got some pretty shots of the water rocketing its way through the canyon.

We also went up to Banff Hot Springs and had a soak.  Surprisingly, it wasn’t very crowded.  I think the water had a wonderfully soothing effect on my Mom’s knee, which she recently had replaced.  Because of the knee she wasn’t able to do as much walking as I had planned for us, but we still got to see a lot and had a wonderful time together.

I tend to forget sometimes that my parents are in their seventies.  I think of them still as being able to do anything.  The truth is they can’t, and this trip showed me that.  Dad’s hair is white, Mom’s is salt and pepper.  They tire quickly and take lots of little naps.  They’re content to sit and read, or do crossword puzzles or watch the Jays on tv.  There’s no more go, go, go.

Dad still goes out for a walk everyday — he still has some reserves of boundless energy — he just has to pace himself in spending them.  He took my bike out for a ride one day and also went golfing by himself.  Mom, on the other had is quite happy being sedate.  In all, my parents were out West for a few days over a month.  Two weeks with my sister and her family in Manitoba, then a week in Lloyd, then the rest of the time with Tim and I.

I was happy that they got to see their great-grandchildren for a couple of times.  Grandpa played harmonica with all the kids — the noisiest, most raucous, out-of-tune concert I’ve ever heard!  Whether there’ll ever be such an opportunity again, I don’t know.

This coming week I’m going to have my three darlings staying with me.  I have been looking forward to this 

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Spring when I hatched the idea.  Just to have them come and spend a week with us, hanging out, going to the beach, playing at the park, eating ice-cream.  They arrive this afternoon and I can hardly wait.

After they return home I’m going to spend some time just puttering around getting small maintenance-y things done before Fall arrives.  I am determined to have this house ready to go for the coming winter.  Tim will be working hard to finish part 2 our deck, which will be nice.  No more dirt, weeds or ants to contend with.

At the end of August we’ll be heading to Toronto to see Bruce Springsteen and his Wrecking Ball Tour.  I am so excited about that!  I love the Boss — can, and have, listened to his music all day.  I own darn near every album he’s ever made and I marvel at the man’s talent, musicality and social awareness.  He is a modern-day troubadour of the highest caliber.

I have been trying to put together a list of songs I hope to hear him play when we’re in TO, but when I checked out the set-list I haven’t seen any of them on it.  There are SO MANY songs I’d want to hear him play — maybe if I had a private concert?  Oh, one can dream!

Well, friends, that’s my blog for today.  Just a rundown of my happy summer.  Hope yours has been as wonderful.

Wed. Feb. 23 — The Girl With the Dragon Tatoo — short book review

For Christmas, the teacher I work with gave me all 3 books in Steig Larsson’s Millenium Trilogy.  The first of these is The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.

It took me about 3 weeks to read — I don’t have tons of time to just sit around reading — like I often wish I did, so I read it mostly in 15 minute to 1/2 hour snatches of time.  I did manage a couple of times where my reading was uninterrupted for about an hour, but mostly I had to read on the fly.

I had high expectations for these books, because I’d heard so much about them.  Steig Larsson, who I know nothing about, comes off as some kind of wunderkind, or literary folk-hero because he died so abruptly and left behind an unfinished fourth book that has something to do with this series.  It is tragic that he died, but before these books and movies hit the big-time I had never heard of him.  That said, he is, in my opinion, a good writer, not a great writer.

I enjoyed Girl, but it took almost a third of the book before I did.  In fact, I was about ready to call it quits — I’ve said before that I can’t waste my time reading something that is boring or seems to be going nowhere — and that is what this book was like in the beginning.  I’m glad I hung in there, though, and I realized once I got past that dull first third that everything Larsson had bored me with was essential to the story that was coming.

It’s easy to tell that Larsson was a journalist — it comes across in his writing — and really shows in the parts of the book where he is describing the world of financial journalism — I tried not to let this detract from the rest of the story as I read.  The plot, setting and flow of the novel is cleanly and clearly laid out, you can see how he must have written each part separately and then seamed them together.  This, more than anything, (once you get past the first third of the book) is what makes this book a fast, easy read.

Although there is a large cast of characters in this novel, the two main ones, Mikael Blomkvist (I stumbled over that last name each time I read it) and Lisbeth Salander (somehow I always thought ‘salamander’) are never lost, though it takes a long time for us to get to know Lisbeth.  Which was weird for me seeing as she is the girl in the title of the book.  I don’t quite know why Larsson chose to center the books on her, as it seems to me most of the story was about Blomkvist.  Lisbeth was secondary — she is drawn in, eventually, to help him in his quest to solve a decades-old crime and clear his name after a libel conviction.

I can’t say I ever came to really care for either of these main characters.  They’re too, oh, I don’t know, character-y-ish.  Mikael is good-looking, normal, hard-working, full of integrity.  I imagined George Clooney.  Lisbeth is quirky, conflicted, haunted, edgy, border-line psychotic.  I imagined a young Juliette Lewis with hair dyed black.  Though I say I never came to care about them, that doesn’t mean I wasn’t interested in them.  Larsson puts them in some pretty scary predicaments and gives enough background about them that you can’t help wanting to know what will happen to them, but, in the end, they never felt like real people to me.

And, though the title says she is the girl with the dragon tattoo, we never get to know the reference behind that.  I guess it has something to do with her toughness and fiery determination — but that sounds like too much of a cliché.

Oh, and something else about these books — sex.  It’s like Larsson wanted us all to know how crucial sex is to one’s ability to have a healthy, meaningful life.  And that European’s are not all hung up about sex the way North American’s are.  It’s okay to have multiple partners, and open marriages and bisexual relationships. And anytime you’re not feeling quite right — well just hop into bed and, though problem not solved, you’ll just start to feel better after some good ol’ wholesome sex.

All in all, I would say that these books, at least the first one, are a good read for the beach or during a week-long holiday.  I’m reading something else before I pick up the second book The Girl Who Played With Fire. I need a break from all those Swedish hard-to-read, harder-to-say names.

It bothers him when I blog while he’s in the room. . .

The sparks were flying at Casa Larson this morning!

I have a great husband, he’s hard-working, funny, loyal and he helps out around the house from time to time.  However. . .

. . . he cannot handle my doing something private/personal like reading, writing or blogging when he’s in the same room.  He continually interrupts me with silly questions and comments — it’s like he can’t stand that I’m not paying attention to him.  A very fundamental observation, I think.  I try hard to just ignore his stomping about, his noisy thrashings, the sighs, the barrage of questions, but it’s not too long before I start feeling a tad guilty.

Now, that’s silly, isn’t it?  Why should I feel guilty because my focus is elsewhere?  Relationship quandary — still, after nearly 31 years of marriage!   I do love him though — he’s buttering my toast as I write this ( and complaining about our piece of shit toaster.)

Breakfast was nice, but then. . .

. . . we got into a stupid argument about trees!  He can’t stand anything that makes a ‘mess’.  Trees, being what they are, create a mess — well, I don’t consider it a mess, he does — they’re just trees, they can’t help it.  Life is messy, I said, to which he got angry because somehow that implied that I was saying he didn’t like ANY trees.  Truth is, he doesn’t — he got rid of every single tree in our back yard so he could build a monstrous garage.  Anyway, he’s cranky now, and I’m just annoyed.  Some yard work on opposite sides of the house should  correct that.

Don’t know what got into me last night.  Started cleaning house — it’s been ignored because of all the yard work and other activities that have taken up my time — and before I knew what I was doing I was taking down the curtains in the kitchen and washing all the cupboards and walls!  Trust me, those walls needed it, but all I was going to do was wipe the counters and wash the floors!  So, now that I’ve started with one room, I’m going to have to do the rest.  Ah, well, I’ve got the time, it’s just I’d much rather sit in a lounge chair with a book and a beer than wash walls.

And while we’re on the subject of reading . . . I haven’t done near as much of it as I wanted to.  So far , this is what I’ve read:  Beatrice and Virgil by Yann Martel, wonderful though disturbing book; The Fourth Hand by John Irving, typical Irving; The Independence of Miss Mary Bennett by Colleen McCullough,her interpretation of what happened to the sisters in Pride and Prejudice after they all(except Mary)  got married.  A nice summer read, a bit fluffy and fantastic, but it was great for the train ride to and from New York.  Now, I’m reading The Full Cupboard of Life, by Alexander McCall Smith.  He writes The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series, set in Botswana, Africa.  this is book 4, I’m actually re-reading it, because I forgot where I left off in the series.  I adore these stories.   His characters are wonderful, the setting is amazing and he writes with an obvious love of Africa and its people.  Highly recommend these books.  Nice, fast read.

Well, I’m going to have to pull this to a close — it’s starting to get warm outside and I have lots to do.