photo of the day: a duck

31 10 2008

I headed down to the river today.  As I walked along duck after duck launched themselves into the water and paddled quickly away from me and my camera.  It made me feel a bit guilty actually, sending all those lovely ducks into the cold, murky river waters.  And just as I began to despair that I would never get a picture of a duck with that curl on its back, I found one and he was sitting in just the right light too.  Very considerate of him.


photo of the day: a dorothy cow

28 10 2008

A Dorothy cow all the way from Las Vegas no less.  And there are sparkley red hooves even though you can’t see them in this particular picture.

review: brat farrar

28 10 2008

I wasn’t sure that I would be going back to Josephine Tey’s work after my experience with Miss Pym.  As I said before, I like my whodunits with a body quite early on, not the building and building and building with nothing to show for it that characterized Miss Pym.  The twist was well done in Miss Pym Disposes, but on the whole it wasn’t my cup of tea.

But seeing as how I’d already bought Brat Farrar at the same time as Miss Pym Disposes, I thought I would give it a go.  And this time, I was not disappointed.

Brat Farrar focuses on the Ashby family.  The heir to the family estate, Patrick Ashby, committed suicide several years before after the death of the Ashby parents, and his twin brother Simon is just about to reach the age of majority and take over his family’s fortunes.  Enter Brat Farrar – a stranger who bears an uncanning resemablance to Simon and who pretends to be Patrick after a great deal of coaching about every detail of Patrick’s early life.

I guessed the twist quite early, but still found the book a page-turner, and the ending, though expected, was not unsatisfying.  I did feel that I missed out on one actual key bit of information, about how something was actually done, but I can’t say what it is or I’ll ruin the whole thing for everyone.  Perhaps I was going too fast in my hurry to get to the end.

A much more enjoyable experience with Tey than Miss Pym, so much so that I wish it had been even longer.

photo of the day: the elusive hot chocolate

27 10 2008

This may look like an average cup of hot chocolate in my new favourite mug (I find the green very calming, though the lack of handle presents more challenges than I imagined when I bought it), but it is anything but.

A few years ago, I was lucky enough to spend two days in France visiting the memorials and cemeteries of WWI.  We stayed at a little hotel in Bapaume and had a fairly good dinner at which – and this is the only time this has happened to me so you know how rarely I eat at upscale establishments – the waiter brushed my place with a little brush and dustpan (crumb pan, I suppose I should call it).  Breakfast, though, as the true highlight because I had the most delicious chocolat ever.  I have tried since that time to find a hot chocolate powder or recipe that would equal that dark chocolat goodness and my taste buds and my wallet have been disappointed ever since.

But that has ended now.  I finally found something very much akin to it in powder form at – of all places – Winners.  Yummy!  I’d give away the brand name, but I’m afraid that there’d be such a run on it that I would be without this decadent treat again…

review: Wild Dogs (x2)

23 10 2008

I was in Toronto last weekend to see the stage adaption of Helen Humphrey’s Wild Dogs.  The story focuses on six people who gather at the end of the woods trying to call back their dogs – dogs that have turned wild and joined a pack in the woods.

I hadn’t read the book, but when CanStage announced its season it sounds very good and with my new found admiration for all things written by Helen Humphreys and when I saw the four star review in The Star I knew I had to go.   Luckily the Artsy Mama was heading into the big, bad city to the Sewing show and I convinced her to go Saturday instead of Sunday so we could drive together and I could catch a matinee.

It was a fantastic show.  The characters talked mainly about their feelings and what was occurring rather than with each other, and though the Globe reviewer wasn’t keen on this technique, I found it really let the poetry of the piece come forward.  The play had some of the most achingly beautiful images and phrases in it and I left the theatre determined to get hold of the book and start reading right away – this in spite of my determination not to buy any more books.

It seems the book-buying-Gods were on my side that day.  Walking along Front Street I book into a discount book store, the kind that usually wouldn’t stock anything overly literary, and yet there was a copy of Wild Dogs, just waiting for me.  I snatched it up, headed down the street to Second Cup and started it within five minutes of purchasing.

What I was pleasantly surprised to discover is how faithful the adaptation was.  The words were pulled right from Humphrey’s book and the primary change seems to be re-ordering.  In the book the story is told from all the character’s perspective and it is in the play as well, but by the end of the first character’s narrative in the book you know the end result whereas on the stage the narratives of all the characters are interspersed and the plot builds chronologically.

The book is quite haunting and the language just as beautiful as it was on stage.  Almost every page holds a poetic gem and I’ve never turned down quite so many corners as I did on this volume.  I want to share some of my favourite passages, but I fear that it will give too much away and I don’t know if they will be as powerful out of context.  There is something about the book that takes you in whole, and I highly, highly recommend it.

photo of the day: winter’s coming

23 10 2008

required reading: selection from Palmer Park

22 10 2008

I was fortunate to see everything at the local theatre festival this summer, and while I enjoyed pretty much everything I saw, the production that moved me the most was Palmer Park.  More of a docu-drama than a traditional play, it did ask some different questions and by the end I found that all too familiar lump in my throat.

The following quote is from the end of the play (not to ruin it for anybody or anything) and I find it is a passage I keep returning to over and over again because of the most basic truths that it captures:

Once upon a time there was an old Iroquois chief who was very disturbed.  His grandson approached him and said, “Grampa, why are you so troubled?”  The old chief said, “Son, I have two warring bears inside of me.  One is full of love and acceptance and kindness for everything in the world.  The other is full of anger and rancor and hate.”  The little boy asked, “Grampa, do you know which bear will win the war?”  The old chief answered, “Yes, I do.  The one that I feed.”