Category Archives: family

Bookish (and not so bookish) thoughts (Sept 27)

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‘Bookish (and not so bookish) thoughts’ is hosted by Christine at Bookishly Boisterous. It’s just a round-up of bookish and other things from the previous week. Share a link there if you want to participate.

1. September seems to have come and gone so quickly. In some ways it seems to have been a fairly busy months, but I’m not that sure if I’ve accomplished that much or not. We’ll be on holiday for a couple of weeks from the end of next week. I’m looking forward not only to the time off, but also the fact that we’ll get to spend the time with family visiting from Scotland.

2. I was under the impression that I was getting back on track with my reading, but I’ve only managed four books this month so far. According to 50 Book Pledge I’m on track for 65, which is a decent number, although I pledged to read 75. I’ve enjoyed doing my book challenges for the year, but of the four I’ve tried I’ll maybe only get two completed. I’ll see how it goes, because there are still three months to go.

3. Although we moved here over two years ago, we only finished unpacking last weekend. We finally managed to sort through the final ten boxes or so that had remained untouched since we got here. I was reunited with a lot of books and CDs, among other things. I also found the ornaments pictured at the top of this post that I had almost forgotten about. They are a reminder that I delivered mail in my previous life before moving to Canada. It’s hard to believe that it is 23 years this month that I moved to Canada and 34 years this December that I started my job with the Royal Mail.

4. We finally got around to watching Silence on Sunday. It was as good as I thought it would be. Now I need to get the book read, as it has been on my TBR pile for far too long. I have also started watching Ozark on Netflix. It’s pretty dark, but I’m really enjoying it so far. I’m hoping to be able to go and see It soon, but I’ll probably have to see it on my own, as my wife is definitely not interested in seeing it. It’s a long time since I read the book, but I don’t have time right now to reread it. I was a little surprised to find out that the latest movie is only part one.

5. I haven’t thought that much about my Christmas book wish list yet. There are a lot of good books due to come out in the next few weeks, but rather than latest releases, I’m toying with the idea of coming up with a list of books available from Book Outlet for my family to choose from. That idea may change, but it’s one I’m seriously thinking about just now.

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Bookish (and not so bookish) thoughts (Sept 20)

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‘Bookish (and not so bookish) thoughts’ is hosted by Christine at Bookishly Boisterous. It’s just a round-up of bookish and other things from the previous week. Share a link there if you want to participate.

1. I can’t believe that we’re more than halfway through September. Where has the summer gone? Having said that, with the temperatures we’ve been having this week it almost still seems like summer.

2. I had hoped that I’d do better with my reading during the summer, but I got into a rut there and was hardly reading much at all. Recently I’ve got back to more reading again and, hopefully, I’ll get back on track. I put together a TBR pile for fall yesterday and I’ll be happy if I get at least half of them read. I always get sidetracked by other books anyway.

3. Lately I’ve been a bit more grateful for living in a small town where very little happens. There’s a lot of crazy things happening out there in the big world – hurricanes, earthquakes, crazy world leaders playing games of chicken with deadly weapons – but life here just seems to tick along regardless.

4. We made a quick trip to the Book Outlet store in St Catharines last month, but I was very restrained only picking up five books for myself. I made up for it last week when visiting our local thrift store I managed to pick up ten Clive Cussler books. I’m trying to put together a reading plan for getting through my Cussler collection. I read a few of his books when I was a teenager, but he has written at least 70 books that are part of 5 different series. I think I’ve managed to work out a way forward with them. It’ll take a few years, but it’ll be worth it.

5. We dropped off our daughter to the University of Waterloo for her first year at the start of September. She’s only an hour away, but it’s really strange not having her around and we miss her. Her younger brother has some mixed feelings about the situation, though. She’ll be home for Thanksgiving in a couple of weeks time and we will also have family visiting from the UK at the same time.

6. I’m still enjoying my foray into #bookstagram and have been enjoying trying to keep up with some daily challenges. You can check out my pictures HERE.

7. Christmas is just over 3 months away, so I’ll need to start thinking soon about putting together my Christmas book wishlist together. I have no idea what to ask for yet, but I’m sure I’ll manage to come up with plenty ideas.

P.S. The picture at the top is from the wonderful meal we had at Pazzo in Stratford to celebrate our 27th Wedding Anniversary in August. It’s a great place to eat if you’re ever in the area.

Bookish (and not so bookish) thoughts (June2)

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‘Bookish (and not so bookish) thoughts’ is hosted by Christine at Bookishly Boisterous. It’s just a round-up of bookish and other things from the previous week. Share a link there if you want to participate.

1. I can’t believe it’s June already. Half the year is almost done! Our daughter has less than a month of High School left and then it won’t be long until she’s off to University in the Fall. Where have all the years gone?

2. I finally got around to reading Hidden Figures. It was a great read, but one that couldn’t be rushed. There was a lot of information to take in, especially in regards to segregation and race issues. It’s a well-researched book about the stories of four women who overcame those issues and played an important part in aeronautics and the space race from WWII onwards. I’m looking forward to seeing the movie soon.

3. There’s some great movies out now or coming soon. I’m not sure how many of them I’m going to be able to see. Ones that I’m looking forward to include Wonder WomanThe Book of HenryDespicable Me 3, and Baby Driver, among others. I’m also tempted to go and see The Captain Underpants Movie for old times sake. Those books were very popular in our household a few years ago.

4. TFC are still going strong. After a hiccup again Ottawa last Tuesday, we took the second leg 4-0 last night and are headed to two games against Montreal for the Canadian Championship. We’re still sitting at the top of the Eastern Conference and are leading the race for the Supporter’s Shield as well. Rangers new coach, Pedro Caixinha, is beginning to show he means business, with a couple of strong signings made so fa this week in Bruno Alves and Ryan Jack.

5. I still haven’t got to the half dozen of boxes of books that remain unpacked since we moved here almost two years ago. I’ll need to get to them soon, just in case there are some that I need to get rid of. We’re planning a trip to Bearly Used Books in Parry Sound this summer and I could alway take some of them there to get some more store credit. We already have over $200 credit there, so I’m not sure if it would be wise to get more, although I’m sure I could easily find ways of spending it!

6. I’m still looking for something different to binge watch on Netflix. I probably won’t watch much during the summer, as I have lots of reading lined up, but it would be good to find something for the Fall. Any ideas would be most welcome.

7. I found a new bookstagram challenge for June. It’s the Bibliophile Book Pile Challenge hosted by @justolivia_19 and @thingsthatkeepmeupatnight If you’re interested I’m @wcs53 on Instagram.

Bookish (and not so bookish) thoughts (May 18)

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‘Bookish (and not so bookish) thoughts’ is hosted by Christine at Bookishly Boisterous. It’s just a round-up of bookish and other things from the previous week. Share a link there if you want to participate.

1. Last Saturday was the first time I took part in any kind of readathon. As I pretty much had a clear day (for once), I signed up for the SavvyReadathon hosted by The Savvy Reader. I probably only managed about 9 hours of reading, due to a couple of interruptions – I had to watch the TFC game and I had to go out shopping with our daughter for Mother’s Day – but I still managed to read three books. I also got a third of the way through a fourth one. I’d like to sign up for more of these kinds of events in the future as it was a great way to get some much needed reading done.

2. Speaking of TFC, we’re on a six game winning streak at the moment and are sitting top of the standings. Hopefully we can keep the streak going tomorrow night at the New York Red Bulls. We have a couple of bad injuries to contend with, both Giovinco and Hagglund will be out for a few weeks, but there seems to be great depth in the squad this season, so we should be able to contend with this.

3. Next Monday is the Victoria Day holiday. We’re finally going to sort through some of the boxes we haven’t opened yet since we moved here almost two years ago. Include in these boxes are at least half a dozen boxes of books. Our 15 bookshelves are totally full, so we will have to decide whether to get some more shelves or shed a few books. I’m not that keen on the latter idea, so I may have to check out IKEA soon!

4. The school year is almost over, which means that our daughter has less than 2 months left in her high school career. It hardly seems possible, but she’ll be heading off to university after the summer. Speaking of school, I’ve been given the go-ahead to explore my further education options. I’m currently exploring the possibility of doing a MTS at Tyndale in Toronto. It seems to be the one that would work best for my current situation. Most of it can be done by long distance, which suits me fine. It’s been almost 6 years since I did my last course, so hopefully I can get back onto the swing of things again easily enough.

5. U2 have started the first leg of their Joshua Tree Tour 2017 in interesting fashion. During the three shows so far they have only played songs from All That You Can’t Leave Behind or earlier. I’m looking forward to hearing The Joshua Tree in its entirety live and hearing Red Hill Mining Town live for my first time, as this tour is the first time it’s been played live. I’m also looking forward to hearing the new song, The Little Things That Give You Away.

6. I’m still managing to keep up with the #NRBchallenge on Instagram. Some days have been more challenging than others, but it’s been fun taking pictures of some books I haven’t thought of for a long time. If you are interested, I’m @wcs53 on Instagram. I’ve enjoyed this one so much that I’m going to have to look for a new challenge for next month. I’m open to suggestions.

7. Just in case anyone who knows me is worried, the picture at the top of this post is not a cup of coffee. It’s tea. I gave up caffeinated coffee almost a year ago and I think it has been good for me. I do drink decaf most days, but no more caffeinated coffee for me!

WWW Wednesday (March 1)

www-wednesdayWWW Wednesday is a weekly book meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. Here is what you have to do to participate:

Answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments section the host page for others to look at.

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently Reading:

I have the following three books on the go at the moment:

  1. Stardust by Neil Gaiman. I didn’t get any of this read during the last week, but I’m getting back to it now.
  2. Bread and Wine: Readings for Lent and Easter (various authors). This is one of my favourite books to read during the Season of Lent. It contains writing from many of my favourite authors and is one that I have enjoyed many times before.
  3. Lent With St. Francis: Daily Reflections by Diane M. Houdek. I haven’t read this one before, but it is the one I’m reading during Lent this year with my wife.

Recently Finished:

I finished the following two books this week:

  1. Life of the Beloved: Spiritual Living in a Secular World by Henri J.M. Nouwen. This was the second book for this year’s Renovaré Book Club. It was enjoyable being able to read it over an extended period of time, which gave the opportunity to reflect slowly over what was written.
  2. The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith. This book, along with nine others in the series, was sitting on my shelf unread for too long. It fit in well with one of the book challenges I have signed up for this year. I really enjoyed it and will hopefully get round to reading some of the other books in the series eventually.

Up Next:

I’ll be hopefully starting the following couple of books soon:

  1. Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life by Tish Harrison Warren. This is the next book for the Renovaré Book Club and I’m really looking forward to starting it soon.
  2. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. My wife bought this for me at a book sale a few years ago, but it didn’t appeal to me at the time. She read it instead and then proceeded to read all the other books in the series. She’s told me for ages that I should give it a try, as I’d probably enjoy it. As it fits in with the theme for one of my book challenges, I now have a reason to try it.

The Year Ahead

tolkien-realityI’m not that big on resolutions, but I like to sit down at the start of the year and set a few personal goals for the year ahead. This is the first time for a few years that I’ve written a post about it, but in doing this it might help me to be more accountable and to actually follow through on them.

2016 was a roller-coaster of a year personally. There were some really great moments, but there were also some times I’d like to forget about. It’s all in the past now, so there’s no point in dwelling on any of it.

So, on to 2017. Here are some of the things I want to work towards:

My health – I had my 50th birthday last year, which hardly seems possible, but it’s true. Most of the time I don’t feel like 50, but there are some things that remind me, although quite often it is those around me who remind me. I have found it harder to keep off the weight in the past year, so one of my health goals is to make sure that I exercise regularly. To do this I’d like to go for a 20-30 minute walk each day. If this is not possible then at least 20-30 minutes on the Wii Fit, either in the morning or the evening. Some days I’d like to even do a combination of both, but I’ll settle for one or the other. The other part of my health I’d like to work more on is my food intake. Being a vegetarian you’d be tempted to think that this wouldn’t be a problem, but I am probably about 20lbs heavier than I need to be. So, I’m working on my food intake and looking at changing some of my eating habits. If I could cut out my evening snacking that would probably be half the battle. At some point I’d like to explore going vegan, but I’m still working through all that this would mean for me.

My family – I moved to Canada almost 23 years ago and in five years time I will have spent half of my life here. It’s not a move that I have ever regretted and life here has been pretty good for the most part. In many ways, I now see myself more as being Canadian than Scottish and would find it hard to ever move back again. One of the downsides of the move has been feeling gradually distanced over time from my family (and friends) on the other side of the Atlantic. I have to admit that I’m not always the best at keeping in touch, so some of the distancing has been my fault as well. I always enjoy my visits back ‘home’, although quite a few of them have been for funerals, which can be kind of bittersweet visits. My goal this year is to make more effort to keep in touch with family and friends overseas. When I first moved over here it was harder to keep in touch, but now with many different means of communication available it should be easier to do so. As well as family over there, I always need to remember that I have my family here as well, so I need to continue to find ways of spending as much quality time with them as well. Our oldest child will probably be heading to University after the summer this year, so we need to make the most of her time at home in the next few moths as well.

My spiritual life – this is an area I’m constantly working on, but I made some personal breakthroughs in 2016 that have helped me move forward in a number of ways. It’s a little personal to share here, but I have shared some of it with those who need to know. For some reason I have started to waken up at no later than 6am each morning, with no need for an alarm. I have started to use extra early time in the morning more wisely and most days I manage to spend 15-30 minutes then developing my spiritual life. Some of what were my core beliefs have been really challenged over the last year or so and this has been a good thing. I’m not as dogmatic in my beliefs as I used to be and I’m finding that my spiritual priorities continue to change for the good. One of the things I really want to try and fit into my schedule this year is a silent retreat of at least 3 days. I’m working on finding something like this that will work for me. Another thing I’d like to work on is a personal rule of life and I have gathered together some tools that will help me develop this.

My working life – for the last few years this has been quite frustrating for me. Most of the time I’m fine with what I do and where I am, but there are times when I’d prefer to be anywhere else doing whatever. Most people probably find this happening to them, but I’ve come to the conclusion that I really need to do something about it. Conversations have taken place and I’ve put in writing some of my hopes, dreams, concerns, and so on, to those who need to know how I feel. I really can’t share here what this means, but am hoping that things become clearer in the year ahead.

My reading life – it would probably be an understatement for me to say that I really like books and reading. Last year, however, I really struggled with my reading and fell quite short of the goals I had set for myself. As I enter 2017 I’m feeling better about my reading. As I write this I’m still working on my reading goals for this year and am working out which reading challenges I want to sign up for. I’ve found a few that really interest me. Once I’ve worked this out I’ll add a tab at the top of this blog with links to the challenges I end up joining. I have a lot of books that I really want to finally get to this year, so I’m looking at challenges that can help me accomplish this. One thing I’d really like to do is to write more reviews of the books I read, even if some are only a paragraph or two.

Blogging – I started my first blog (Once Upon A Time In The North) in 2005 and have kept up some form of blogging ever since, although there have been time when I have posted very little. It’s something I enjoy doing, so I’d like to continue doing this in some form or other. My goal is to post more often, not for the sake of posting, but to try and make it more meaningful in some way or other. I’ll just have to wait and see where it goes, but I hope I can keep it up.

Photography – I enjoy taking pictures, even if at times the results aren’t the best. Over the last few years I’ve tried to maintain a photography blog with varying results. I did manage to complete a 365 type blog for one year, but it became more of a chore than it was worth. I still like the idea of having some kind of photography blog, but I’ll never attempt a 365 again. Instead I’m working on something else that I have referred to one friend as a 365ish blog. Once I’ve worked it out I’ll add a link to it somewhere on this blog. Making sure I have a camera with me wherever I go would be a good start as I work all of this out.

So, these are some of the things I’m working on at the moment. I have a lot of optimism as I move forward into 2017. If you got this far, then congratulations! I hadn’t intended for the post to be this long. If you have any ideas or suggestions as to how I can accomplish any of my goals then feel free to make a comment here or drop me an email. I appreciate the input of others, so any input would be more than welcome.

Happy New Year and may 2017 be a good year for us all.

Book Beginnings and Friday 56 – Daddy Lenin and Other Stories (Nov 25)

daddy-leninI compiled my annual Christmas Book Wishlist last weekend so that my family could make a start on their Christmas shopping with a few ideas of where to start. As I was putting the list together I was going through my books looking for the ones I received last year for Christmas and came across one I still haven’t read yet – Daddy Lenin and Other Stories by Guy Vanderhaeghe. I decided that with Christmas only a month away now I should try and get this one read before I see which ones I get this year. I also decided I should use it as my way back into participating in these Friday memes that I haven’t done for quite a few months now.

The following description comes from inside the front cover:

Bestselling author Guy Vanderhaeghe’s new book of fiction is both timely and timeless and showcases his supreme talent as a storyteller and poignant observer of the human condition.

Among these nine addictive and resonant stories: A teenage boy breaks out of the strict confines of his family, his bid for independence leads him in over his head. He learns about life in short order and there is no turning back. An actor’s penchant for hiding behind a role, on and off stage, is tested to the limits and what he comes to discover finally places him face to face with the truth. With his mother hospitalized for a nervous condition and his father away on long work stints, a boy is sent to another family for his meals. His gradually building relationship with a teenage daughter who has been left handicapped from Polio opens unexpected doors to the world. In the powerful title story, a middle-aged man remeets his former adviser at university, a charismatic and domineering professor dubbed Daddy Lenin. As their tense reunion progresses, secrets from the past painfully revise remembered events and threaten to topple the scaffolding of a marriage.

With Daddy Lenin and Other Stories, award-winning author Guy Vanderhaeghe returns once again to the form that launched his stellar literary career. Here is a grand master writing at the height of his powers.

Now for this week’s excerpts:

bb-buttonBook Beginnings is hosted by Gilion at Rose City Reader, who invites anyone to join in, saying: ‘Please join me every Friday to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires.  Please remember to include the title of the book and the author. Leave a link to your post.  If you don’t have a blog, but want to participate, please leave a comment with your Book Beginning.’

The beginning of Daddy Lenin (from the story The Jimi Hendrix Experience):

It’s the summer of 1970 and I’ve only got one lovely ambition. I want to have been born in Seattle, to be black, to be Jimi Hendrix. I want a blast of Afro ablaze in a bank of stage lights, to own a corona of genius.

I like this beginning, but it’s quite the ambition!

friday-562.jpgThe Friday 56 is a book meme hosted by Freda’s Voice and the rules are as follows:

*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56.
*Find any sentence, (or few, just don’t spoil it) that grabs you.
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post below in Linky. Add the post url, not your blog url.

It’s that simple.

From page 56 of Daddy Lenin (from the story Koenig & Company):

As soon as the food hit their dishes all the Koenigs, Mr. Koenig included, scattered for the living room at top speed. I was the last to be served, and once I had been doled out my share of charcoal and grease, the enormous Delphine immediately fell to it, forking up her supper straight from the pans.

I’m not sure what’s going on here, but it doesn’t seem like all that pleasant an experience.

I’m looking forward to reading this book soon. I’ve read most of Vanderhaeghe’so the collections of short stories and really enjoyed them. I’m hoping this one will be just as good as the others.

Catching Up

It has been an unusual year so far and it still has over a month to go. We started off the year living in half a house, as we were still undergoing renovations. Finally, in mid-April we were able to do most of our unpacking, almost ten months after we got here. We still haven’t got any of our pictures up yet, but I’m working on it. Besides all of this, we also had a lot of visitors (family and friends) visit this year, which was great. We never had many visitors during our 14 years in Elliot Lake, but now that we are in St Marys we are more accessible. It’s always great catching up with family and friends, so we’re just thankful that the house was in more of a state of readiness by the time they all visited.

When we moved here last year I had hoped to blog more regularly, but with all that was happening and things we had to unexpectedly deal with, I just got out of the habit and just didn’t feel like it at the time. However, that has changed and I now feel in more of a better place to post more stuff here again. A lot of it will probably be book or movie related as I enjoy taking part in some of the memes that go around a number of the blogs that I follow. Plus reading and watching movies are two of my favourite things to do in my spare time, so it’s kind of natural for me to want to blog about them.

My reading did kind of suffer there for a while as well. There were times when I couldn’t focus or just had trouble remembering what I had just read. Thankfully I am getting back to enjoying reading again, but I won’t reach my target of 75 books for this year, although I will still probably be close to 50. Fifty is a fitting number for this year as well, because I turned 50 in April, which hardly seems possible, but is true nonetheless.

At 50 I think I’m in better shape than I was at 40, but I’m finding it harder to keep off the weight these days. Once all the rush of Christmas is past, Pamela and I are considering signing up for Forks Over Knives. If you are wondering what that’s about click on the link or watch their movie, which is available on Netflix.

Getting back to my reading, my habits have started to change again, although one thing that hasn’t changed is that I buy more books than I read. I’m seriously thinking of giving up my participation in The Classics Club as I haven’t been able to keep up with it. I also have found that I’ve not been enjoying some of the books as much as I expected to. I’ll make a decision on it soon. One unusual thing that has happened is that I have discovered that I enjoy the odd romantic novel. During the summer I received a free romance in a giveaway, read it, and discovered it was a good escape for me. I’ve read a few more since then and they haven’t been all that bad. It’s only a certain kind that I enjoy, mainly contemporary, inspired, suspense, and sci-fi. The other categories don’t really appeal that much to me at all. I’ve found that I can get a lot of what I like for free or cheap on the Kindle or Kobo apps, so that has given me enough to read. Also, on the reading front, I joined the Renovaré Book Club this year again after taking last year off. The four books chosen for this year look like great reads and I’m enjoying being a part of it again so far.

For my 50th birthday my family gave me a turntable, so I now have something to play my vinyl on again. I now have to work out how to get my collection of vinyl that is still in Orkney over here. Now I spend some of my spare time checking out thrift stores for records. I’ve found some good deals there so far. Also, there’s a great vinyl store in Stratford, which is only 20 minutes away.

One other thing that happened this year is that we have TV again. For the past few years we’ve been relying on Netflix, DVDs, and the internet for our occasional viewing, but a few months ago we discovered that we could get a good deal with Rogers for their basic TV and signed up for it. We had been with Bell for our internet and home phone, but their prices were getting ridiculous. Being fed up with this, we shopped around and discovered that Rogers offered phone, internet, and TV for less than the two services we had with Bell. So, we changed to Rogers and haven’t looked back. We also gained unlimited bandwidth with Rogers internet, so we don’t have to worry about going over our limit like we had to do with Bell. We’re still not watching much TV, but we are enjoying the on-demand feature, which is something new to us.

Well I think that’s enough catching up for now. Hopefully I’ll keep up more with the blogging now and make keeping this site up worthwhile.

Bookmark Monday – Homemade (Nov 21)

bookmark-mondayBookmark Monday is a weekly meme hosted by Aloi from guiltless reading. Take a picture of one of your favourite bookmarks, post it on your blog, and head over to guiltless reading to share a to your post.

Last week I came across a container of bookmarks in a box we hadn’t opened since we moved here over a year ago. The following are some of the homemade ones (I think all made by our daughter) that were in the container:

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Throwback Thursday – September 1989

23 Laverock Rd - 1989 001

Twenty-six years ago this week, on September 5, 1989 to be precise, I proposed to Pamela. I remember it was a Tuesday, my parents still hadn’t met her (they were on holiday), and I had a little accident with a Postvan that day as well (that’s another story). Thankfully, she said yes, and got to meet my parents a few weeks later. On the night we got engaged we visited my grandparents on Laverock Road to tell them the news, and Pamela took the above photo of me with them and Rupert.

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