photo of the day: salsa

28 09 2008

After canning 17 jars of homemade tomato sauce and 15 jars of salsa with the Artsy Mama, the last thing I want to see is another tomato.  But here is one of the products of all our hard work.

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Review: A Hidden Life

27 09 2008

I finished Adele Geras’ A Hidden Life about a week ago, but am just getting around to writing about it now.  It’s probably not a good sign that it is already a bit fuzzy in my mind.

The story focuses on the family of a woman named Constance Barrington.  The novel opens with her altering her will just before she is to die.  The new will is unfair – someone of the family benefit a great deal while others get very little.  This brings out a great deal of tension between some of the family members, but in the end what they each received from the will is exactly what they needed in their lives.

Reading the description about the will and its effects on the people benefiting or not benefitting from it reminded me of my second favourite L.M. Montgomery novel: A Tangled WebA Hidden Life was very different though.  What it most reminded me of in some ways was a Rosamunde Pilcher novel.  There seemed to be a focus on the same kind of people, the same type of life and situations, but whereas I’ve always wanted to enter the world of Pilcher’s novels, I found I had little patience with virtually all of the characters in A Hidden Life, particularly the whiny Nessa.  I kept reading because I did want to see where Geras left these people, but I never warmed to any of them and I found the ending a bit predictable.

I did find the title intriguing.  Lou – the granddaughter who is virtually disinherited and only receives the copyright to her grandfather’s novels, which have been long out of print and were not successful at the time – discovers the ways in which her grandfather hide his life in his fiction.  On another level, though, the title could be applied to almost any character in the novel for they are all on one level or another living a hidden life or hiding from life (their true life) – a hiding that most (the most deserving) move away from by the end of the book.  I think I would have enjoyed the book more if I liked more of the characters and felt more invested in their journeys of self-discovery.





photo of the day: little lamb

20 09 2008





photo of the day: the flying duck

20 09 2008





niagara visit: a photo log

17 09 2008

Towards the end of August, the Artsy Mama and I took a trip down to Niagara-on-the-Lake to see a couple of plays.  We spent a day in Niagara-on-the-Lake and then took a journey down to Niagara Falls the next day.  Here’s a brief photo log of that trip.

The man himself - well, a statue of the man himself.

The man himself - well, a statue of the man himself.

What we saw

What we saw (both!)

The Prince of Wales Hotel

The Prince of Wales Hotel

The Courthouse Theatre (where we spent most of the day)

The Courthouse Theatre (where we spent most of the day)

Grapes at the Inniskillin Winery

Grapes at the Inniskillin Winery

The Niagara Butterfly Conservatory

The Niagara Butterfly Conservatory

The Falls

The Falls





review: Coventry by Helen Humphreys

16 09 2008

I read about half of Coventry yesterday and finished off the rest today.  It is quite a short book – easy enough to read in one afternoon, and having broken up my reading, I realize now that it might have been better to read through it in one sitting, so as to better stay with the characters as they experience the bombing of Coventry during WWII.

Humphreys’ book focuses on three characters as they experience the bombing of Coventry.  There is Harriet, a woman who lost her husband during WWI and who is covering for a neighbour as a fire watcher at the Cathedral.  There is Jeremy, another fire watcher, who journeys through the evening with Helen, and then there is Jeremy’s mother, Maeve, who the narrative moves to at several points.

I am a fan of Humphreys’ work, particularly The Frozen Thames, which I wrote about recently.  This book was not my favourite of hers, though it was powerful in sections and full of the imagery that I so admire in her books.  There was a great deal of coincidence in the book, which normally I think I would suspect of, but here I didn’t find that distracting.  What took me out of the book was the moments when the narrative seemed to step too far forwards and comment on what had occurred with a knowledge that we have now.  Any contemporary historical novel struggles with that, but some conceal it better than other, I suppose, and I wish that there was more of a veil in that regard in this particular book since there is so much else to recommend.

Reading Humphreys’ book reminded me of my own trip to Coventry and to the Cathedral, and certain elements that she described brought more meaning to what I had seen there.  For example, Harriet, the morning after, returns to the Cathedral and sees a cross that someone has made from two beams and the words “Father Forgive” behind them – just the image preserved in one of my own pictures from the trip.

There is also a description of the new Cathedral, and in particular, the light coming through the glass, which was something that really struck me during the trip.

Humphreys describes a great deal of destruction in Coventry and she also talks about how everything that comes after will be new, that there will have to be a starting again, but that is also tied to memory and the building of a future out of memory.  Somehow in this embracing of past and present and future and of life, Humphreys has captured something about the feelings I had when looking at the “Reconciliation” statute at Coventry Cathedral.

Bronze cast of Josefina de Vasconcellos Reconciliation - Coventry Cathedral

Bronze cast of Josefina de Vasconcellos' "Reconciliation" - Coventry Cathedral





photo of the day: fries at the gilead cafe

14 09 2008