Monday, March 30, 2009

Friday, March 27, 2009


It seems impossible considering what I claimed in my last post but life just got better. Today was a day to remember and cherish. My two student buddies and I spent the entire beautiful afternoon touring around downtown. I love Ottawa and it was so much fun to rediscover how much I love it while showing them all the little nooks and crannies that I used to frequent. A few paths are still closed/wet/snowy/muddy from winter but for the most part everything was open and wonderful. I wish I would have brought my camera along but when setting out we didn't know the extent of our explorations. We have vowed to go back within the next couple weeks so I shall have to hope that the light is as beautiful then as it was today. We toured around behind the Supreme Court and Parliament, looked at the grave of the Unknown Soldier and through the Market. Often my past rambles downtown were with a good friend of mine from University who I haven't seen much in the past little while so I was thinking about her quite a bit while revisiting the site of many a walk. We stopped in the bookstore of my dreams and browsed the enticing titles. As I was in the children's section, what to my wondering eyes should appear but that very friend from University! We were able to chat a bit and catch up and hopefully we'll be able to get together soon. Then we spent some time at the Basilica and then along Sussex to the Rideau falls. We sat on the wall of the viewing deck between the two falls and were still. The time we spent there is beyond description so I think I will leave it at that. We then made our way back home making a few detours and stops at other beautiful sites along the way. Not only was it good to be home but it was good to be home to chicken soup and apple crumble and an evening spent at my Gma's. I will say it again: "Life couldn't possibly, not even probably, life couldn't possibly better be."

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


There is no circumstance in particular to point to as the culprit. I could start listing things but they would not give the reason for this state, merely illustrating aspects of it. I am so happy to be exactly where I am right now. I cannot imagine a way to improve my life. As Danny Kaye sings in The Court Jester "Life couldn't possibly, not even probably, life couldn't possibly better be."

I love life.

Friday, March 20, 2009

papery paperwhites

They have dried out but still have so much beauty to give.

Green Green Grass

It has been so unseasonably warm the past few weeks that one would think that at last the weather has been minding the calandar. I have been enjoying the weather and, despite dour predictions of the horridness of summer that follows close on the heels of spring, I am happy for the change. I would also be happy had it remained cold but I like to enjoy what I have when I have it rather than looking forward to a time not yet here or back to a time past in either longing or dread and missing out on what we have. So as much as I like the way that the last picture I posted with the lemons looks against the blue background I think I shall also like the way it looks against the green background. We shall probably get at least one more dump of snow before winter leaves completely but that's great too. We have had beautiful weather this winter with not much to complain about so I am thankful.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


When life hands you a lemon...

take pictures.

Saturday, March 14, 2009


This picture is a combination of the two things that have been on my mind (and about which I have posted) most recently. It also brings to mind something that I have thought about in the past--the place that environment holds in one's experience of something. This lovely copy of MacLennan's novel is a delight to read, easy to carry around, and lends a certain dignity to the material that would not be present (at least to me) if I were to read it in paperback form. It reminds me of the time when Em and I read King Solomon's Mines for a book club. The copy we read was a trade paperback with a garish cover and a sloppy-looking painting depicting the savage king and witch in all their glorious hideousness. We read the adventure story with much delight, enjoying both the reading and the (good-humoured) mocking of it. The others in the book discussion, however, had copies that were respectable, modest little hardcovers. Those who had read it in the hardcover versions were more ready to take it seriously or at least not immediately to categorize it as a boys' adventure story.

In similar manner I have noticed the very great difference than can come about concerning the effectiveness of a photograph with the change of background. This was brought home to me especially in my quest to photograph all things yellow in this house because in it I often took several pictures of the same object but in different positions and with various backdrops and the very tone of the yellow could be changed drastically with the slight change of any of the elements within the picture.

I am by no means a relativist but I think it would be good to keep in mind how much our opinions on certain things may be changed by aspects of our environment and that it is advisable not to put too much weight into something that may be just as easily swayed to the opposite extreme by such things as a bit of undigested potato or some underdone pork. All I'm saying is that although Marley really had more of the grave than gravy about him, it is still probably not advisable to swallow the toothpick.

a study in yellow

I finally took some pictures today and although I started with the usual assorted pictures of plants, within a short time I began to make yellow objects the exclusive subject of my pictures. Being my favourite colour, it probably is not surprising that yellow happened to figure prominently in my pictures but I have never previously photographed it to such purpose or extent. I would like to share a few of them but the narrowing down of my favourites is difficult. Here are a few of them:

I think that is enough for now but I shall likely be posting more in the next little while.

Friday, March 13, 2009


I just finished reading Settlers of the Marsh and have decided that I should give Canlit a second chance so have determined that for the next little while a portion of my reading should be dedicated to this category. I've started MacLennan's Two Solitudes and am appreciating many things about it. I do remember enjoying Barometer Rising when I read it and am finding more periperal things to enjoy about this one although I find it has less direction and tension towards action (or at least from what I can remember in comparison to the other) but tension and action do not seem to be of much importance in this book. I could be wrong but so far not much has really happened that one might call exciting. I am enjoying it none the less and would like to post more once I have more on which to post.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

saving music

I do like people in general and the students in particular but there are certain times when it is such a relief to get to the point in the day when they have all gone or retreated to their rooms and left this house to silence and to me.

Or not always silence: tonight Em and I are listening through Raising Sand, an album by Robert Plant and Allison Krauss. I am really enjoying it; it's the best music I've come across in a while. I like the balance between heavy and light with their two voices. I love the banjo, the bass... There are other good things about it but I think I'll refrain from displaying my inadequacy in matters of description by simply telling anyone interested that they should check it out for themselves. It's a great way to finish off a people-filled day. Or any other type of day. And I should probably add that it's effectiveness likely isn't limited to the end of the day; I'm sure that it would be great to listen to at the beginning or the middle or any other increment between the two extremes of any day. Good stuff.

Monday, March 09, 2009

books and architecture

Several of the blogs that I occasionally will check consist mainly of lists of acquired books and reviews of the same books once read. I always enjoy reading such posts but have not previously thought too much of writing posts in like manner. But now I do feel like emulating those whom I admire so will start things off with a review of a book I just finished reading. The Architecture of Happiness by Alain de Botton first caught my eye because it was in the bargain book section but I was quickly intrigued because a quick perusal of the cover and snatches of the contents brought me to believe that he was dealing with issues of which I would wish to know more. For some time as I was growing up my dream was to pursue architecture. I was not interested in the architecture of big commercial buildings but rather of that of private houses. I knew that there were things about some houses that made them homes and that were missing or only poorly imitated in other houses and I wanted to remedy this. Eventually I realized that I would need to study more math than was at that time palatable and I gave up this dream but I continued in my fascination with things pertaining to well and poorly designed houses.

Alain de Botton addresses this exact issue (the question of whether architecture can make the difference between a house and a home) in the book as well as addressing other issues about which I have been interested in contemplating. He takes us on a tour through the changes of the ideal of beauty through history both in art and architecture (these two are, of course, closely linked), discusses why certain ages are likely to be drawn more to certain particular aspects of aesthetics than to others, he demonstrates how we have a tendency to attribute human qualities to inanimate objects and how because we are used to discerning and interpreting body language and expressions through the reading of minuscule variations of line and contour, we naturally (and for the most part unconsciously) derive different feelings from variations in lines and contours of our buildings or furniture or even drink ware. Throughout his discussion he goes into great detail of description to illustrate his point and at each description there is a corresponding photograph (or usually, set of photographs) so that the reader can follow along and feel the difference. That he takes the time to do this makes a lot of sense because much of his argument deals with one's reaction and feeling on seeing the building or object and in order to follow along with the argument the reader should see for himself.

I enjoyed this book thoroughly and would recommend it even to those who may not have as keen an interest in architecture as I. There are so many interesting issues raised in this book that it is sure to fall along the lines of at least one area of interest for most people. And what is more human than the making comfortable of one's abode? I didn't find answers to all the questions I have on this topic but there was certainly a lot for contemplation and I almost feel as though I would like to re-read it and lift a few of the quotes from it. One aspect of it that I had to adjust myself to is that it is not written as a direct essay with thesis and conclusion but rather it brings up ideas and plays with them. The parts outlining the history of architectural thought were, obviously, more linear but once I grew accustomed to the style of writing I began to be quite enamoured with it. I am now interested in finding out and reading more of his books if possible.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Too Late

I began the day yesterday with another skate on the canal. Once again I brought my camera and, once again, I ignored the opportunity to document another beautiful morning preferring to experience the full enjoyment of the time first-hand rather than to sacrifice part of it for future enjoyment. Little did I know, however, that that was to be the last of such skates this year. Later on in the day my skating buddy informed me that the canal was scheduled to close down for the year that very night. I am very thankful that I was able to enjoy my skate that morning and that we were able to go for a farewell skate that night (both highly enjoyable in different ways) but it is sad that I shall not be able to post any pictures from the canal this year. Life is so transient. It's a reminder to me not to pass up opportunities too readily. Carpe diem!

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

camera shy

These past few days have been beautiful and I have had a growing longing to document the beauty with my camera. But I am out of the habit of bringing a camera with me or, more importantly, of pausing in my walks to take a picture. One excuse that I have is that it is cold outside and consequently not a friendly environment for my camera or the hands that hold it. I walked through UofO on my way to the canal this morning and would have loved to have taken pictures and then I would have posted them here for all to see but because it didn't happen my reporting that the pictures would have turned out beautifully is going to have to suffice.