Tuesday, 16 January 2018

When Do Two Become One?

I've been reading an amazing book this week. Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout. Strout is a beautiful writer, so skilful with words and images. Her work puts me in mind of Alice Munro, and of another Canadian writer, David Adams Richards. I love how all three of these writers make me feel as if I'm crawling right inside the lives of their characters. Characters who are not obvious heroes, who are not necessarily beautiful or exciting, but who are living ordinary, often difficult, lives with dignity and honour. 

Yesterday, I plunked myself down amidst the muddle and mess of our renovations to have a cup of tea and a short read. I was struck by a scene in Olive Kitteridge where Olive's son, Christopher, gets married to a woman he's known for only six weeks. During the ceremony, Olive feels a sense of disquiet, of fear for her son. Of course she wants him to find happiness, to not be lonely, but still, she's wary of her new daughter-in-law, and worries "at the way the bride was smiling up at Christopher, as though she actually knew him. Because did she know what he looked like in first grade when he had a nosebleed in Miss Lampley's class? Did she see him when he was a pale, slightly pudgy child, his skin broken out in hives because he was afraid to take a spelling test? No...." 

This scene had me musing all afternoon. As Hubby and I worked to put our house to rights, I thought about marriage. About that old cliché of two becoming one. About the idea and the reality of matrimony, holy or otherwise. How two people who probably, as Olive points out, know little about each other commit to each other for life. Supposedly. And how the marriage ceremony itself does little to unify a couple, to make two people become one. 

Our "By Invitation Only" theme this month is unity. And that scene in Olive Kitteridge had me thinking the rest of the day about my own marriage. How well Hubby and I thought we knew each other when we got married, after having dated for a year, and lived together for another three. How much we've discovered about each other in the almost twenty-nine years since then. And what has made us more unified as a couple, what has helped us to become if not exactly "one," then certainly more "one" than we were on our wedding day. Ha. 

Friday, 12 January 2018

New Year; New Stuff

Ah, yes. Winter in Manotick. Everything is lovely and clean, pristine and peaceful. Bucolic, even. Especially after a snowfall. Especially in the bush. I love when it snows just after New Years. Making everything look, well... new year new. That's my theme today, actually. New stuff. 

chickadee on a snowy branch
We saw lots of chickadees today while we were skiing.

Monday, 8 January 2018

I Need a Good Book

I really, really need a good book. Not just a good book, but a great one. A big bitey, juicy, descriptive, character-driven book. One that will captivate me in the first chapter, transport me to wherever it is set, and make me forget all about the world... kind of book. 

Not necessarily a serious book, but a seriously interesting one. A book like The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, or A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson, or The Children Act by Ian McEwen. A new Penelope Lively, maybe. Or the aptly named masterpiece, Euphoria, which Lily King wrote a few years ago. These books conjured up reader's euphoria, for me. The feeling you get after reading only a few pages when you know that you're going to be able to dive into the book, learn some really cool stuff, love and/or love to hate the characters, and feel as if you've been on a trip to a far away land. Yeah. That's what I need right now.

cover of Lily King's Euphoria cover of Kate Atkinson's A God in Ruins

Thursday, 4 January 2018

Is It Possible To Be An Ethical Shopper?

It's the dead of winter here in Ottawa, the dead time between New Year's and the return of normal life. Back in the day, I would fill this weirdly unreal time (between the craziness of Christmas, and the start of the school term) with marking. After Christmas, when boxing week sales made me not want to venture downtown, and Hubby was mesmerized by hockey on television (World Junior Hockey tournament, Spengler Cup, plus the regular NHL games) I'd allot a few hours a day to marking the major essays that my senior students had submitted on the last day before the break. And when school started again, I'd have that Herculean task all done and dusted instead of hanging over my head.  

So what do I do now, when the chaos of post Christmas traffic, crowded restaurants and stores, not to mention all that hockey on TV, keeps me in limbo? I do my closet inventory. Naturally. Nothing like a good stock-taking to start the year off right. This year, I'm asking myself if I'm any closer to being an ethical shopper. And, if I'm honest, if it's even possible to be an ethical shopper.

woman in sweater and jeans holding a pen and a small notebook
Consulting my little book of lists