Saturday, 31 July 2010

Stanley Park/ West End

Stanley Park/West End

Yesterday we toured Robson Street, the big Vancouver shopping district where everything was 50 – 70% off! Verrrryy difficult time for a Scot who sees nothing she wants or needs… argh.

We were then led by our fearless leader into the West End, another area of downtown, and near-downtown, areas to be tarted up. The streets are lovely and the small neighbourhood shops welcoming, but the seriously ugly apartment buildings dwarfing the Edwardians that are left are horrid. We made a pleasant café and snack stop, and then headed for Stanley Park.

We passed a couple of the huge residential skyscrapers on the way into the park, and it appeared as though there were a bicycle on almost every balcony!

The Aquarium was quite a disappointment and very overpriced – don’t go there.

Stanley Park is brilliant. We had to make a choice as we had limited time, so we chose the sea walk that circles the park at five to six miles distance. It was wonderful. We had cool sea breeze to our right almost the entire way, along with surly bikers to our left. There were many squishy sightings, along with geese, and one seagull having himself a feast – first on a crab he captured, and then a small fish.

After completing the round we fell upon The Fish House in Stanley Park like starving pilgrims. My knees almost kissed the hand of our very helpful and efficient waitress when she brought round the Macallan’s! We found out from her why liquor is so expensive here – the very high tax; and there is a Canadian pour (one ounce), and the American pour is two. According to her, many Canadians make a liquor/wine run to Seattle fairly often. And I had to explain to the American teenagers that it is normal to receive water without ice, anywhere outside America.

We are off this morning to catch the train to Whistler, and an afternoon of zip lining!


Friday, 30 July 2010

And then...

Seaplane Ride

Yesterday we were up at an easy time to be down at the dock at 0930 for our Whale Watching boat ride. We signed our forms, saying if we died it was our own damn fault, and were fitted with what are NOT wet suits, not the suits you wear for white water, but a red, cushy jumpsuit, with zippers and Velcro – a kind of bumper suit with a hood and tie down. Once everyone was zippered in – now you know of course mine was tied about my waist until we got out of harbour and hit some real water and a breeze – the very informative and chatty young woman (who when queried, said yes the tourists count had been down in June (it was cold and rainy, and they DIDN’T call me!?) but now in July it was picked up to normal and August was booked well – so the economy does not seem to be hitting them hard which is good to hear.

I would have assumed that mostly they get Americans up here, but the day before when I went walkabout I heard German, Dutch, Israeli, French, Tagalog, Japanese, Chinese, and English (the original :-). She confirmed that observation and said they really get a lot of Germans and Dutch. I told her it has been my observation in my travels that EVERYONE gets a lot of Germans, but I was surprised about the Dutch – they don’t get enough water at home? I think the common denominator is that Canada is so stunningly beautiful, and the people are so lovely. I will say overall as a tourist’s destination, the residents here are more kindly disposed toward the tourists than many places I have visited.

The whale-watching ride was brilliant in as far as the “boat ride” part of it! Wheel! The boat is an overgrown dinghy that seats 14 – 16, and hits the water hard once they crank up those two HUGE motors on the back. I have many times explained to the husband that the reason I don’t listen to those safety lectures when flying over water is that if you hit the water after falling from 35, 000 feet, the water is like concrete, and you are not walking away from that so you may as well listen to your IPod. Yesterday he acknowledge the truth of it after the front of the boat (and you KNOW that’s where I jumped in, and he followed, the sweet man) slammed down on the water, bounced us up out of the seat, and slammed us hard back into the seat, our teeth became one with the jaw, and our backs said, “What ARE you doing?”

We first spotted some Harbour Seals who apparently to survive the verrrrryyy chilly water here, spend a lot of time on the rocks. One of the babies showed off his swimming skills for us and we remarked on the very effective camouflage of their fur.

Next we came upon a young Grey Whale, most likely a teenager, (groan) like I don’t have enough teenagers on this trip. He was feeding in quite close to the shore in about twenty or thirty feet of water, diving deep to feed, then surfacing with a spray, and rolling through the water like a huge spotted serpent as he made for the bottom again.

British Columbia has over 300 species of breeding birds – more than any province in Canada. Seabirds constitute only three percent of the world’s bird species, although two thirds of the planet is covered by water. They are more numerous in polar than in tropical waters, and much more diverse in the southern hemisphere than in the northern. Typically they feed either on small fishes or on small organisms called zooplankton, and lay eggs that have been an important source of food for coastal people around the world for thousands of years.

Heading further out we came upon seagulls, cormorants, puffin (unusual according to our driver), and some chap who had feathers on his upper bill to aid in hunting and is called a rhino- (didn’t catch the last part) in a great flock in what I can only assume is a great place for lunch. Noisy, they were very noisy.

Some more fast travel punctuated by jaw breaking bounces, brought us in sight of a Minke whale, who the driver says is a favourite prey of the Japanese hunters. He showed us one breach and left.

We passed behind a huge shipping tanker, the China Seas, and found out just how high we could bounce crossing his wake! It was too much fun, like a water roller coaster.

Now to backtrack just a bit to morning where the adorable husband, recovered but for a sore throat and a voice that sounded like Darth Vader, drank two full liters of water rather than eat as he was afraid he might have another “incident” in the boat if he had any food in his stomach. Just about the time we exited the harbour the water made its way through his system and he “needed to go to the toilet”, by the time we had gone full out, he was “in pain”, as we pulled into the inlet where we saw the Blue Heron, he was moaning every time we hit a swell. The ride back was excruciating for him and he gingerly made his way out of the boat only saying, “Don’t touch me, don’t touch me, it doesn’t help.” He walked from the boat, up the hill (!) to the office where the toilet was located, like a man on his last legs making his way to his final resting place. He swears ten people got off the next boat that was prepared to go out when they saw him heading to the toilet, deciding that if that was the result of the ride, it was simply too frightening.

Once the adorable husband made his way from the toilet and out of the jumpsuit, we walked back to the hotel for our bags. We headed back toward the harbour, stopping at the Shoppe for ice crème for S., an assortment of foods for Magnus and the adorable husband, and a luscious latte’ with Red Bull on the side for me. We were entertained by a creative chap on the corner playing the fiddle dressed in full Darth Vader attire and posing for photographs by passing tourists.

Thus fortified we made our way to the Seaplane Terminal, only to find the flight was on hold due to fog. Fog? In Victoria one would assume they would have fog quite often and would therefore be set up with instrumentation to fly through it, but apparently not. Not to fear as all went well. We were taken on a very comfortable forty-minute shuttle ride to Pat’s Bay to take a seaplane out of there. The ride over was grand with the water spread out underneath us, and watching the boats – lots of boats.

The ride included a complementary shuttle ride to the hotel where we re-registered and I collapsed on the VERY COMFORTABLE bed after unpacking and settling us in for another stay.

The adorable husband took the children out for a requested Japanese meal while I stayed in with room service, which was up to the best standards of the Fairmont.

Today we are off to Stanley Park to walk the five-mile sea walk around the park, and see what we can see.


Thursday, 29 July 2010





Hard to beat this scene campers – I’m sitting in front of the Empress Hotel in Victoria, Canada with a breeze blowing that’s cool enough I needed to put on my jacket. The sun is shining through a cloudless, stunning blue sky with mountains in the distance and the tiny harbour spread out in front of me. Yes, time for lunch. You’re absolutely correct. In we go then…

Sitting on the “Veranda” of the Empress after taking a call from the adorable husband who apparently did not drown at sea but bloody well near died, throwing up everything in his system poor love - three times! He has a problem with motion, but wears some electric shock device (yikes) that normally serves him well (he did fine on the ferry ride) but apparently the fishing boat went out, hit some swells, came to a dead stop to ride and await the fish coming in and he could not take it. After arriving back on dry land he recovered quickly and is abed. All of which works out very well as I had decided to take the day “off” for writing and a visit to the museum - alone. I love those people but I can’t tell you what a relief it is to walk for a bit at my normal stride (which passes them by at a goodly clip).

I am awaiting my MacAllan 18 and will visit with you for a bit shall I?

All right then, day three: we had a very pleasant trip to the Ferry and a grand ride over (see photographs). What a brilliant view! We sat in the SeaWest lounge, in the soft chairs, with a can’t-beat-it-view, and the adorable husband and I speculated on what it must have been like to be an explorer in the days before the coming of the engine.

Arriving at Butchart Gardens (again, see photographs) we talked about how built up the place is from the Ferry all the way in, and as it turns out right on into Victoria. The Gardens were spectacular but with apologies to the gardeners I fear that the children and I found the Rose carousel to be our most favorite spot! We had a grand ride, which the adorable husband with his motion problem, had to sit out.

Then it was off to Victoria and our hotel, which is quite serviceable, with wireless (huzzah), but I fear with horrid beds! This morning we felt like we had slept on rocks.

Our High Tea at the Empress was brilliant for me, and the adorable husband enjoyed it, but I fear that the two younger members of our party were “not amused”. Apparently American teenagers are immune to the charms of High Tea no matter the inducement. S. came round and I think enjoyed herself, but Magnus refused to be pleased and had to be taken to the sandwich Shoppe afterwards for “real food”. It did make me once again grateful to Q for not only being the Universe’s best-behaved teenager but the most well mannered one as well. I thought to myself to write her a note straight away saying so.

The adorable husband and the children were off for the aborted fishing trip early this morning and I went walkabout (yes, you knew it was coming – see photographs). I am going to enjoy my whiskey, have a bracing lunch, then take myself over to the Royal BC Museum for a bit before returning to the hotel, as I know the adorable husband is getting some much needed and deserved sleep.

I find Victoria awash in tourists, but he adorable husband who is a better judge of these things (being I tend toward thinking that if I can see anyone else on the sidewalk it is crowded) says he thinks it is lighter than normal.

The Empress remains a grand old lady but is showing her age a bit in that the fare is mediocre but then I came for the lovely view, tea, and the spectacular whiskey yes? Indeed.

On Thursday it's whale watching and the seaplane ride back to Vancouver!


...and while we are in Canada

Franklin search vessel found in Arctic

Wed Jul 28, 8:50 PM
By Bob Weber, The Canadian Press

Arctic archaeologists have found the ship that forged the final link in the Northwest Passage and was lost in the search for the Franklin expedition.

The HMS Investigator, abandoned in the ice in 1853, is in shallow water in Mercy Bay along the northern coast of Banks Island in Canada's Western Arctic.

"The ship is standing upright in very good condition," Marc-Andre Bernier, Parks Canada's head of underwater archaeology, said Wednesday. "It's standing in about 11 metres of water.

"This is definitely of the utmost importance. This is the ship that sailed the last leg of the Northwest Passage."

On shore, not far from the wreck, are what scientists believe are the graves of three British sailors.

The disappearance of the Franklin expedition — considered the British admiralty's state of the art — provoked widespread public concern. Numerous British and American ships set sail in an attempt to find the HMS Erebus and the Terror, the vessels commanded by Sir John Franklin in his doomed search for the Northwest Passage in 1845.

None ever has.

Although some remains of the crew have been found, along with ghastly evidence of cannibalism among its starving crew, the fate of the Franklin expedition remains one of the Arctic's enduring mysteries and a recurring motif in Canadian song and story.

The search for Franklin and his men, however, contributed greatly to the understanding of the Arctic waters that Canada was eventually to claim as her own.

The Investigator made two voyages to try to solve the mystery. Its second, in 1850, was captained by Robert McClure. He sailed the Investigator around Cape Horn, up the west coast of North America to the Beaufort Sea and into the strait that now bears his name. He soon realized he was in the final leg of the Passage, but before he could return, the ship was blocked by pack ice and forced to overwinter in Prince of Wales Strait along the east coast of Banks Island.

The following summer, McClure tried again to sail to the end of the Passage, but was again blocked by ice. He steered the ship and crew into a large bay on the island's north coast he called the Bay of Mercy.

McClure and his men spent a total of three years trying to escape their icy dry dock, living on ship's stores and whatever they could harvest from the land. Finally, in the summer of 1853, they were rescued by the HMS Resolute.

The Investigator was abandoned. It was last seen, still stuck in the ice, in 1854.

"This is actually a human history," said Bernier. "Not only a history of the Passage, but the history of a crew of 60 men who had to overwinter three times in the Arctic, not knowing if they were going to survive."

The Parks Canada team arrived at Mercy Bay on July 22. Three days later, the ice on the bay cleared enough that researchers were able to deploy side-scanning sonar from a small inflatable boat over the site where they believed the wooden ship had eventually sunk.

Within 15 minutes, the Investigator was found.

"The ship had not moved too much from where it was abandoned," said Bernier.

The masts and rigging have long been sheared off by ice and weather. But the icy waters have preserved the vessel in remarkably good condition.

Environment Minister Jim Prentice is at the site and sailed overtop the sunken ship Tuesday night.

"It's incredible," he said from Mercy Bay. "You're actually able to peer down into the water and see not only the outline of the ship, but actually the individual timbers.

"To actually be on a Zodiac and look down into the water and see not just the outline of the ship but actually the ship itself and the timbers and all of the woodwork in immaculate detail was an indescribable experience.

"This ship has not been seen for 156 years. It's an incredible sight and it's a privilege to be here."

Prentice said the discovery by Canadian researchers emphasizes the fact that the Passage is a Canadian waterway, integral to Canada's history.

"It's an important find in that regard," he said.

"This vessel has been discovered here immediately adjacent to a Canadian national park. It's obviously an element of Canadian sovereignty in the Arctic."

As well as the ship, archaeologists have been uncovering a trove of artifacts on land left behind by the stranded sailors, who unloaded everything that was usable and portable before abandoning the Investigator.

The graves of three sailors thought to have died of scurvy have been marked off and will be left undisturbed, said Bernier.

The Investigator is also considered to be a significant part of aboriginal history. For years after the ship was abandoned, Inuvialuit hunters scavenged the site for valuable and rare bits of metal and wood.Even the nails were pulled out of one of the boats left behind.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Canadian Adventure: Day two

Canadian Adventure: Day Two

Last night I was pooped from the day of fun and only jotted down my notes. Here are the photographs of the great day we had yesterday. We are off early this morning to rent a car, (after repacking, and downsizing to accommodate he weight restrictions of the seaplane on the return, more on that later), take the ferry to Victoria, visit Butchart Gardens, and have high tea at the Empress hotel! Once we are settled in I shall return and fill you in on the details of yesterday's fun, for now we are off!


FYI: D. has requested to be known henceforth as Magnus

Monday, 26 July 2010

Day One Canadian Adventure

Click on the photograph and it will take you to the album.

Day One - We left Houston, Texas usa Sunday morning at 0930 hours Texas time on Continental Airlines bound for Vancouver, where we landed after a long but uneventful flight. The one outstanding event that we are slowly running into the ground is teasing our daughter S. who was a bit tired when she got in the taxi in Houston and said, “Are you looking for the can opener? You need a can opener. Oh good there is one, you found it”

During this bit of rambling verbosity, I was looking for the beverage holder in the taxi to put the adorable husband’s coffee
in for stability. We have all been teasing her about that one; she is taking it in stride and with much good humor.

Arriving in Vancouver we walked outside into a COOL breeze and I requested to stay until November! A lovely ride through the city took us to The Fairmount Hotel Vancouver – another grand old lady with a huge old copper roof. But really people I have one word for elegant OLD hotels – VENT, a vent in the bathroom please! One prefers to maintain a certain mystery in a marriage and…

Our room was not yet ready as we had arrived 1300 hours Vancouver time so the Concierge directed us to the Cactus Club Café as we had two starving teenagers on our hands, as well as two hungry adults who don’t eat that crap they serve on the airplanes now and have the audacity to call food.

It was brilliant! The food was splendid. A word must be said about the staff as it was so very obvious to each of the four of us – a bevy of beauties who were tending bar to waiting tables were uniformly stunningly attractive. My youngest daughter and I managed to spy out the only three male waiters who held their own in the “oh my god look at that guy” department. We have no idea… Some Canadian hiring policy? The natural tendency of the people toward attractive genes? A weeding out of the less attractive? If so how do you not get sued?

The other outstanding characteristic of the restaurant was the bathroom! Now you know how I love a lovely toilet, this was ultra modern – all chrome and glass and smoky mirrors. The stalls were huge and upon closing the door and sitting myself in the proper place to conduct that business for which I had come – I looked up into a telly placed right inside the door at eye level, and playing the Food channel! Surreal! What a hoot.

After getting back to the hotel and into our rooms, the children both collapsed into a nap and I did my unpacking thing while the adorable husband found a nearby shop and brought back “sundries”.

At five (remember we are running two hours ahead time wise and I woke at – 0430hours. I’m just saying… We walked over to the “Bard on the Beach” playhouse. There was a huge crowd dressed in various stages of apparel, and some obvious tourists, as well as locals.

It was a very well done production that we all thoroughly enjoyed. We were drooping badly for the last act but that was the time difference and flight, not the entertainment. I can’t recommend this company highly enough if you are here. “Much Ado about Nothing” is one of my favourite Shakespearean plays. I’ve seen it performed many times in London and other places and this compared very favorably.

Our favourites were the actor who so brilliantly played Benedict, and the actress who played Beatrice. Kudos!

As we stumbled out of the theatre we were so NOT looking forward to the 45-minute walk back to the hotel but the booking agent had told the adorable husband he would find no taxis in the area… After just missing one, by the skin of our teeth, to people in front of us, we did nonetheless manage to flag one down before we had gone very far at all. Whoo! We came home to the very, very comfortable hotel and fell into our beds! Albeit the adorable husband was snacking, and continuing to read up on our next adventure day, and there was much giggling coming from the adjoining children’s room I must say! I read about three pages in my book and rolled over to dreamland.

Today we are off to Granville Island, perhaps Stanley Park, and lunch with my friend “Nobody Important” and her scientist guy. I am looking forward to introducing them to the new members of my family.

Speaking of the rest of my family, Q is off in the wilds of the Caribbean somewhere scuba diving with her husband for a week. Yep, my daughter the jock! And her grandparents are making their way back across country west to east after coming out to get their lovely boat, on which we had SO many wonderful days and weeks (sigh) tarted up and on sale. Golden Dawn you are a grand lady and we will miss you.

I must dress now and get my son awake as he and I are going up to the gym. He is getting in shape for football season, and I'm just trying to stay in shape!

Ciao and more adventures anon!

Friday, 23 July 2010

It's Friday, and that means books...

On this week’s Friday Book Review we have Sir Walter Scott and his works Ivanhoe and The Monastery.

Ivanhoe details the political and cultural enmity between the subjugated Saxons and their Norman-French overlords during the reign of Richard the Lionheart in the twelfth century. Wilfred of Ivanhoe, a brave Saxon knight, returns from the crusades to assist King Richard in recovering his throne from this usurping brother Prince John.”

The three central confrontations are: “the tournament at Ashby-de-la-Zouche, the siege of Torquilstone Castle, and the rescuing of the heroine Rebecca from Templestowe, the seat of the Knights templar.”

The gothic romance finds its way woven between the action scenes, and is every bit as epic, and chivalry is admired above all.

In his tale Scott subtly critiques warfare through the spectrum of his own sight and opinions of the time. The book “pioneered the genre of the historical novel, the literary form most often used to express it.”

This is a delightful read and I do recommend it. It was eons ago I admit when I read Scott’s novels but I do believe they would hold up today in the atmosphere of Twilight and Prince of Persia.

Lifespan: b. 1771 (Scotland), d. 1832
First Published: 1820
First Published by: A. Constable & Co. (Edinburgh)
Full Title: Ivanhoe; or, the Jew and his Daughter

The Monastery

Lifespan: b. 1771 (Scotland), d. 1832
First Published: 1820
First Published by: A. Constable & Co. (Edinburgh)
Original language: English

“Set in the lawless terrain of the Scottish Borders between the years 1550 and 1575, The Monastery records the fate of the isolated Catholic monastery of Kennaquhair as it comes into conflict with the competing doctrines of radical Protestant Reform.

The ruins of Melrose Abbey fired the imagination of Scott, which was close to his home at Abbotsford. He could see there a testament “to the religious and political struggles of Scotland’s past”.

In the book he plays out the ideological conflicts “in the narrative through a range of intense relationships: between the Catholic Sub-Prior Eustace and his one-time school friend the Protestant preacher Henry Warden, between a lover and his beloved, between one brother and the next.”

His sympathies are expressed firmly on the side of Protestant views. “Scott’s decidedly gothic penchant in The Monastery for terror, supernatural suspense, and muted forms of anti-Catholicism is carefully counterbalanced by the comic elements generated through the linguistic idiosyncrasies of Sir Piercie Shafton” (and copied by politicians since!).

“Scott’s romance is at once an account of his native Scottish past, and an anticipation of a national, political, and religious future.” He continues these themes in his sequel The Abbot.

I read Scott when I was an impressionable teenager and remember well being caught up in his passions of the tale. I recommend both these reads.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010


Forgive my lapse in writing – it seems I’m always at the keyboard what with articles for Power Room, the blog book review, and my new deadline of September for the novel and a non-fiction entry for the Surrey Writer’s Conference in October. I learned so much there in 2007, so I’m very excited about returning.

All this marital bliss (and it is!) has gotten in the way of my novel so I have set the conference in October as my deadline to have a manuscript ready to shop around, as well as entering a non-fiction entry for an award that will look good on my resume'.

We are off to Canada for two weeks come this weekend with both my teenage stepchildren; fortunately I adore them and they think I'm "pretty cool". I'm lucky that way with children...

Q has turned into a bloody jock! She just returned from hiking the Wonderland Trail around Rainier (nine days on her own; walked herself out of a white out with a map and a compass!) where she earned the title "BADASS" from the Park Rangers; and is off this weekend for scuba diving in the Caribbean. Who knew?!

All here is about the upcoming trip – getting medications, and Red Bull (which has had an amazing positive effect on my migraines! The adorable husband/doctor thinks it is the Taurine…) Making certain everyone has passports, trousers, shoes, and knickers! I have to get my hair done and my legs waxed before we go! Priorities my dears!

The adorable husband has done a magnificent job of planning everything – there will be whale watching, flying in the seaplane, taking the ferry, deep sea fishing (yes, I will be home writing that day), horseback riding, zip lining, seeing parks, taking the train... You get the idea.

We will be visiting Banff National Park, along with a kick ass train ride taking us west to east; as well as zip lining and a nice long horseback ride with picnic. I intend to blog my way across Canada so prepare yourselves. The adorable husband has done all the planning, and calling, and paying - and a fine job he has done I must say. I am in charge of being adorable, easy to get along with, and taking movies and photographs, along with keeping a journal by blogging. So everyone has a job.

I am in the process today of typing up the Friday Book Review for the next four Fridays so that I don’t need to haul that huge book along with me!


Friday, 16 July 2010

Book Friday

It’s Book Friday and today we have Frankenstein! Ta da!
Lifespan: b. 1797 (England), d. 1851
First Published: 1818
First Published by: Lackington et al. (London)
Full Title: Frankenstein; or, the Modern Prometheus

I can only assume you have seen one of the many movies and/or read the book (please tell me you have seen Young Frankenstein! If not, go get it now! And you have something to do for the weekend…) The classic version is James Whale’s 1931 movie if you have not seen that – another must-do for your list.

Written by the daughter of the radical feminist Mary Wollstonecraft, the author married poet Percy Bysshe Shelly in 1816. Now this was before the book was published, so as to whether or not he had any input is not know to this reviewer.

Her mother died when the author was ten months old, so that influence is again unknown, as she certainly would, I think, have been driven to read her mother’s work in order to come to know her in some sense.

If you were hiding in a hole during your pre-university education and did not read the book, I highly recommend you do so; even if you did, a re-read is nothing but enjoyment.

“At the centre of the story is the idea that our understanding of science can be developed and controlled, to the point that the tendency of Nature toward dissolution can be arrested; the impossibility of this desire is at the centre of its “horror”.

The subtitle of the novel, The Modern Prometheus, makes clear the connection with Greek mythology, but it is evident that Frankenstein is a novel that looks forward as well as back. The Swiss scientist and philosopher, Frankenstein, is inspired by occult philosophy to create a human-like figure, and give it life. The idea of reanimation is at the heart of much modern horror…”

We see in this novel and in much modern literature the attempt to postpone death and the decline of vigour. It is a recurring theme.

Shelley’s book is worth reading for many reasons but the main points that keep it fresh and applicable to today’s society is the “effortless prose, grotesque imagery, and surreal imagination” that Shelly put to paper. I highly recommend this read.

I have finished Appetite for Life: the autobiography of Julia Child by Noel Fitch and I again, highly recommend this read. What a life this woman had; there is so much in addition to the books and television shows she wrote and preformed that most of us are unaware of in any sense. If you are like me and have never read nor seen them, I think we should. I can tell you I know what Q is receiving for her next gift! It is a story of two lives, her and her adorable Paul, well lived. She is an inspiration to all of us out of our thirties and looking to accomplish great deeds still. It is a story of a woman driven to accomplish a work of great impact and exactitude but also a great love story, as well as the webs of friendship and family that she and her Paul wove about themselves. The story of how they survived the McCarthy purge and the removal of taste from the America table is one worth telling.

We are getting packed, and ready for our two-week sojourn to Canada. It will be quite a trip and I shall give you daily updates as to our progress through Canada west to east.

I’m also busy at work on a submission for the Surrey Writer’s conference in October, which explains my absence from daily posts on my blog. I’m very excited about returning this year as I learned so much when I was there in 2007.


Friday, 9 July 2010

It’s Book Review Friday, and here we go!

Up this week: Chaireas and Kallirhoe by Chariton.

Lifespan: b.c. 1st century BCE (Greece), d.c. 1st century
First published: 1750
Language of First Publication: Latin
Original Title: Peri Chairean kai Kallirhoen

The dates claimed for the origin of this classical novel vary from 50 BCE to 200 BCE. This is the story of “the lives of two young lovers from Syracuse” and takes place during the time of the flowering and withering of the Persian Empire.

The author, Chariton, acting as narrator tells us he is secretary “to a rhetor ((in ancient Greece and Rome) a teacher of rhetoric,
an orator) of Aphrodisias”.

Here are the highpoints - Chaireas and Kallirhoe, our hero and heroine, have fallen in love at first sighting, and are allowed by their families to marry, but (here comes the kicker) “jealous former suitors of the girl destroy Chaireas’ trust in his wife” (foreshadows of Othello).

Chaireas gets angry, kicks her in the stomach, thinks he’s killed her and she is buried in the family tomb.

Apparently the rich family tomb, as no sooner is she settled in than the grave robbers show up, find her alive, and of course sell her to a chap named Dionysos who lives on the coast of Ionia.

He, duh, falls in love with Kallirhoe, who is of course pregnant with the child of Chaireas – didn’t you just see that coming?

Kallirhoe, tasty but devious dish that she is, marries Dionysos but doesn’t tell him the father of the child is other than his own virile self.

Meanwhile back at the ranch, or empire if you must, Chaireas finds out from the grave robbers (and just what was he doing hanging about with grave robbers?) that his wife lives – da da de da!

The two meet again in Persia after the requisite long trying search and journey, there’s a big trial as to just who gets to be “the husband” to our luscious but devious Kallirhoe. Chaireas proves he is a right proper hero type by going out and killing off several hundred Persians, and apparently that’s good enough for Kallirhoe as she leaves the child with Dionysos and sails off into the sunset with Chaireas.

Demented, all of them, if you ask me. I have not actually read this one and I can’t say that I really care to take the time to do so. You make your own choice on this one.

I finished Patterson’s Storm Prey and I can’t really recommend it either – moves very slowly and plods until you are really quite glad when it’s all done. I’ve begun Appetite for Life, The Biography of Julia Child by Noel Fitch and even though I’m not usually one for biographies I’m excited about this one and it’s made a good start. Gideon’s Spies is quite good, almost done there and I recommend it, as well as Lions of Medina – both being what they are – military histories.

998 to go! Let me know what you are reading.

THIS is the good news?

Posted on the Park site for the Wonderland Trail that Q is treking this week. She will make it; I may not!

Carry an ice axe even if you think you will not need it. It can snow any day of the year. Paradise Visitor Center recorded a world record 1122 in (2850cm) snowfall in 1972.

flood damage in 2006
most years the snow holds during June and early July.
snow crossing at Panhandle can be trouble
be prepared for cold and wind
you need good knees. Expect a cumulative 23,000ft (7000m) of elevation gain
bring a rope to hang your food
mud, rain, sun and snow is a typical day
in May and June: fallen trees across trails, washed-out bridges, and long stretches of snow-covered trail where route finding will be difficult (NPS)

some sections have poor water supply late season
trails around Sunrise and Reflection Lakes confusing
about 5000 hikers a year complete the whole circuit compared with 20,000 who try to climb it. Circuit hikers are the more exclusive breed.

it's worth bringing GPS, compass and even altimeter

Two days ago she had to break trail through a whiteout to the Ranger Station! The bottom fell out of my stomach three days ago and I am perfecting hand wringing.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010


my new article on pornography is on Powder Room Graffiti. Please go over read and comment. Thank you.


Go READ THIS now! Brilliant. OMG we need to start a movement for a call for the movie! WHy did I not know this? Shocking!

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Go forth read and comment! Please.

I have a new article on Powder Room Graffiti tomorrow.


7 July - actually not! Perhaps anon? I will let you know....

Friday, 2 July 2010

"1001 Books to read before You Die" Friday!

2 down/ 999 to go!

This week’s book review comes to you from the sick bed (sigh, hack, cough, sneeze) of your blogger. The one cold virus (vicious bugger) that finds me once a year (after what I am sure is a long and arduous search), lands in my nasal passage and then quickly, like the villain it is, makes its way into my pulmonary system where it resides while I hack, cough, run a fever, and am generally miserable to be around. Fortunately, it is only that – a nasty cold that prefers my pulmonary system to my nasal cavity and will be beaten down within a week or so by the barrage of prescription aerosol inhalants, antibiotics, and luscious, yummy, happy, narcotic cough syrup which makes me a bit loopy, some happy, and very chatty – so not all bad eh?

This week’s selection is Metamorphoses by Ovid

Lifespan: b.43 BCE (Italy), d.17 CI
First Published: 1488, by Antonius Nebrissensis
First Composed: Between c. 2-8
Original Language: Latin

This is another volume that I believe the majority of us encountered at some time during our school years. It is some “two hundred and fifty stories” composed into one continuous narrative. It is “a mythological history of the world, beginning with creation and ending with the foundation of Rome and the apotheosis of Julius Caesar.

The theme running through the stories is the constant questioning of the existing traditions and power structure of the times: Arachne challenges the goddess Athene to a tapestry-making contest; Phaethon insists on taking the reins of the sun chariot from his father; Daphne escapes from Apollo’s clutches by praying to a river god, who changes her into a tree.

Ovid uses “a comic, deflating way, reminiscent of mock-epic” to relate the tales. An excellent example is the story of Perseus who “kills his enemies by turning them to stone with the head of the Medusa which he carries in a bag, it is not the heroic that we see, but the use of a disproportionate force not unlike employing nuclear weapons in a bar brawl.”

The Metamorphoses' incorporation of dialogue within a narrative, along with its wit, playfulness, and sheer sense of fun, exemplifies much of what we associate with the present day novel.

Ovid’s work has had an impact on a string of notable novelists since its inception and continues to do so.

My recommendation is much like that for Aesop’s Fables - if for some reason you never read it, do so now. If you have children, of any ages about the place, it makes for excellent nighttime stories.

On my own table, Storm Prey has picked up the pace a bit, but I’m unimpressed. Meanwhile Appetite For Life, The Biography of Julia Child by Noel Riley Fitch has arrived from Amazon and I’m looking forward to beginning it as soon as I finish off Storm Prey.

Last week I Beatrice gave us all a referral to what she is reading and looking forward to next. I invite you all to do the same if you are so inclined.

Ciao and happy reading.