Thursday, June 18, 2009


So after daily sending in my resume to different potential jobs, taking personality tests as a result, sitting through various styles of interviews, explaining that I am a quick learner but no, I didn't have French... I caved and sent a short message to a landscaping company this Tuesday afternoon and I was working Wednesday morning. There are aspects of the landscaping culture that I appreciate. I can survive and even thrive in a world where they care more about seeing how you work than interviewing and looking at a limited list of your accomplishments/deeds. Thinking about it, all the jobs that I have held I have not had to have even one interview. I have always been hired before even meeting my bosses. I feel much more comfortable being able to get to work and show how I can adjust and work well rather than try to be assertive and tell people that I am a hard-worker. Because even if it is true, I find that as soon as I am forced to toot my own horn either I am not forward enough and downplay myself too much or I feel as though I am lying about my abilities. Either way I'm sure I don't come across very well.

Anyway, yes I am back at landscaping. I am enjoying being outside and working with plants to the same extent as I did in my last job but unfortunately (as I suspected) it is not even to be compared to my last job on any other front. Thankfully the people with whom I work are all friendly so far but nothing like the fellowship I had with Marc and Chris and Jan will be found. I remember always being happy when Marc would repeat how we won't cut grass but there's more to it than avoiding a boring job--this crew cuts grass and are grass cutters. Everyone else who worked with Marc (me excluded) had at least a horticulture diploma (and often other forms of education) whereas here the expert on the horticulture aspect of things apparently sat in on a few classes but doesn't have his diploma. He knows what he's doing and I don't want to be snooty and say people need to have degrees before I'll speak to them but there often is an attitude that comes with education and a love of learning that I forgot was not possessed by all and sundry. Thankfully, however, I can come back home at night and will be sure to be refreshed in a congenial atmosphere. That is, if I can stay awake enough to soak it in at all...

Monday, June 15, 2009


I was sitting outside reading this afternoon and the first sign I had that the roses were finally blooming was the scent wafting over the breeze to me.

I haven't taken pictures recently. Unfortunately this weekend (the first I've made it home in a while) I forgot to bring my camera. This is particularly unfortunate because the gardens are at their peak in many ways at our house this time of year. The lupins in particular are spectacular (an adjective not always applied to our gardens) right now and I am sorry not to have caught them on film. But we must work with what we have and so I have taken a few pictures of the roses in the garden here in Ottawa.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

fading to yellow


When I finished reading James Hogg's Confessions of a Justified Sinner I decided that I should read Thomas De Quincey's Confessions of an English Opium Eater to follow a bit of a theme and perhaps compare the two (a friend suggested that I should perhaps read the shopaholic confessions also but we'll see about that). Of course there are differences: De Quincey's confessions are autobiographical while Hogg's twist from one narration of supernatural events to another also De Quincey seeks to explain how he turned to the wrong while the protagonist (if he may be called that) in Hogg's book will at no time admit himself to be anything but righteous. In fact it may turn out to be easier to list similarities than differences between these two books.

What I found and find most difficult within the reading process itself about these two books is their lack of chapters or chapter-like divisions within the texts. The Justified Sinner has breaks at each new narrative but they are far enough apart that it gives no real sense of being able to stop at a good point, while the writing and subject matter do not hold up well to prolonged reading sessions (unless one wishes to get it over quickly).

I have read almost through half of the Opium Eater and have just stopped at a small break--the only one of which I can remember having encountered. But beyond this annoyance, I have been enjoying De Quincey's narrative immensely. It seems at times more a collection of essays centred around and inspired by a life's narrative than a biography. At this point, however, I am thoroughly satisfied with it. I have come thus far and he has eaten not a drop of opium yet so perhaps the book takes a turn to the gloomy side soon.

He originally wrote his Confessions in 1821 and subsequently, by 1856, published a revised version. I am reading the revised version and have been interested by the several remarks he inserts on the subject of his revisions and his various statements on the nature of narrative and truth. He uses footnotes extensively (sometimes a footnote will take up almost an entire page itself) and although they can distract from the central narrative, I have never really found them to detract from it. His style, as I mentioned when speaking of the collection of essays, is disjointed at most times so I sometimes question if there is a purpose to putting some of the asides into footnote form while leaving others in the text itself. It would be interesting to look into further. I also would like to read the original and compare the two because he speaks of how he has changed some things, put some thing in that weren't there previously and so on. It has been a fascinating read so far and I shall try to write more on it if other thoughts worthy of recording come up while reading the rest of the book.

I found I have written little about Hogg's book but that might be because I have read several other books in the intervening time and it is not fresh in my memory. Also I have already had the privilege of discussing it because it was read as part of a book club so I don't feel the need to get my thoughts on it out at this point. In any case I can still outline briefly the things that I found I liked about it. I found the aspects I found most interesting in reading Justified Sinner also had to do with its conscious production of the crafting of the narrative. I am interested in the way that there were so many stories and frame stories and various points of view within the book and I would like to puzzle a bit more over why the author employed this means of telling the story. Also I found it quite interesting that the author placed himself (or a version of himself) in a limited and a discounted role within the story.

Anyway I was not put off from my Calvanistic and Scottish tendencies and heritage by the reading of an account of how such things can go too far (into the realm of antinomianism and perhaps even beyond...) but I shall take it as a warning and call to seek to live a balanced life. That may be one of the hardest things we are called to do in this life but we must try for it nonetheless.

I did not get much enjoyment from the reading of the text, however, and found most of the time that I was reading merely to finish it but I am happy that I have read it and come to the point where I can focus on certain aspects of it while not having to have the less-savoury bits still on my tongue.

Monday, June 08, 2009

coming up for air

so after a week of feeding and cleaning up after a pile of doctors they have all gone home. I'm feeling relieved but also saddened by the sudden quiet. Now life must resume where I dropped it or rather where I dropped it along with the accumulation of a week or two of things I have ignored or put on hold while busy. I have also been blown away by hearing a friend play piano at a high level of skill and have come down and made the decision that instead of giving up without a hope of ever attaining such a level, I should instead practice more. As much as it is easier to say with Lady Catherine "If I had ever learned I should have been a true proficient" it is better to have tried. And thankfully he'll likely never hear me play so there isn't much fear of comparison there.
I've also been thinking about bigger issues and themes deriving from the conference itself and from various books I have been perusing but at this moment while I am still recovering I just want to write a short post about very little so please forgive me for being shallow this once.