Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Leaves, Writing, and a Sweater -- She Covers it All!

Yes, I'm sorry, more Woodsy Fall Photos for you today. But at least I'll bring it back inside by the end of the post. . .
I'm into the intense part of my week, starting noon-ish. Today's the loooooong day after which tomorrow morning follows way too quickly.
And I'm giving back the first marked assignments today, which always brings my shoulders up closer to my ears, as if a weekend of sitting at my desk marking hadn't already done that.
There are always several students stunned by the difference between their high school marks and those they get at university. And there are always a few for whom a mark confirms what they've always known -- "I suck at English" -- and whom I have to convince that this does not have to be a self-fulfilling prophecy, that we can turn that around with work. One of the big fallacies about the writing ability is that it's genetically delivered. Certainly, there are attributes that seem inherent, but much of good writing is work.
Of course, much of it also emanates from having read copiously, thus integrating the patterns of all the writers whose words, phrases, sentence patterns, and rhetorical architecture have moved through one's imagination and neurology, settling in at an almost cellular level, guiding one's essays onto the page.
If a student has read so little that she can write, untroubled, "he played for hour a pawn hour" -- as did a student of mine in this past assignment -- that student's task becomes much more challenging, and that student's inner editor is likely to be much less useful than one might hope.
I have one more section's worth of those assignments to return today, so pardon me the need to turn to pretty pictures for solace.
Pardon me the need to remember how sunlight and shadow turn nature's simplest detritus into glorious spectacle.
Let me remember how light illuminates the dark understorey of the woods and I will melodramatically make analogies with that December glimmer beckoning to me at the end of the long tunnel that is Term. Or I will think of the happy students, the lights who worked hard following instructions on the assignment, whose attention and discipline resulted in some model responses -- their faces when they read my request for a copy of their work to keep in my Good Work Sample files for future students.

And now, finally, that promised indoor photo . . . here's the sweater I've begun, in a colour very close to what I was searching for in the shops. A huge risk, $80 of yarn (lovely blend of silk, bamboo, and merino) and a pattern (#20 from Vogue Early Fall 2010) I've never knit before, all working towards a sweater in my head that may or may not fit OR, if it does, may still not flatter. We knitters live in optimism!


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Grounded . . .

Remember I told you last week that I'd been frustrated in my search for a top of a certain muted colour . . .
I went out with my camera in the sunshine yesterday looking for it and for any of its buddies . . .
Camel and grey are in all the fashion mags this year, but every Fall I admire the earthtones that inspire those style shoots . . .
Mushrooms, fallen fir leaves and cedar boughs, arbutus trunks. . .
mud puddles . . .
I walk with my head down. . .
studying the play of these colours,
the infinitude of their shades, beyond the possibilities of any paint chips,
Several more rain storms down the week, or the month, and all the vegetative matter will be pummelled into a slurry whose colours become less distinct, more reflective of the clouds
But for now, seduced by the Fall palette, I'll be looking down at the ground . . .

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Fall Honours . . .




Thanks so much to Fashion over Fifty for honouring me as a Versatile Blogger. Fashion over Fifty is a relatively new blog to me, and I've recently been enjoying having another brave "woman of a certain age" willing to share photos of herself in her daily stylings.
Having already blogged for over three years, I've done several of these memes requiring "7 Things About Me," and seriously, people, if I haven't told you by now, I'm keeping it secret! As well, over the past three years, through various award memes, I've passed along enough of these that I'd only be duplicating myself (never mind my blogroll on the right) in linking again,
especially since this Award asks for 15 links! But I've been having fun checking out the new links Fashion over 50 has set up for us, and you might enjoy them as well. So many great bloggers out there, but sadly, so much marking on my desk here where that whole having-to-earn-my-paycheque-thing beckons. . .

Instead of 7 new things about me, instead of 15 new blogs, please accept these photos from this afternoon's fall sunshine along my island running route . . .

Fall Rings the Changes

The first Fall storm brushed by here Friday and Saturday -- luckily we avoided the torrential rains visited on our neighbours up-island at Port Hardy where 200 mm fell, overwhelming drainage systems, washing out roads, stranding residents dramatically. But there were winds and big waves and enough rain to muddy up the roads.

As compensation, though, we got a full-on rainbow yesterday afternoon, and I grabbed my Nikon to rush out and snap it for you. They're always miraculous, aren't they? I've seen hundreds in my life, a happy consequence of living in a rainy climate, and every single one inspires the same child-like sense of wonder.
This morning, I woke to this freighter (and his buddies) tooting their foghorns -- loudly and often! The world beyond our beach is enveloped in grey, and I suspect Pater's seaplane flight back from Vancouver will be delayed. But above the fog, there's a cloud-speckled blue sky, and apparently we'll have some sunshine later today -- you know the saying: If you don't like the weather, wait a few minutes . . .

Must be Fall, then . . . I'm off for a run in it. Hope you enjoy the rainbow!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Boots . . .It's Academic . . .

You knew I was going to buy these boots, didn't you?! After my sister sent me the link to them (wretched enabling temptress that she is!)**, I stopped by Fluevog's to check them out. Loved them immediately, but calculated for a day or two. Recognized that I only had one pair of flat leather boots --brown cavalry, a considerably different vibe. Permission given to try on these Britneys.
Love at first sight, maybe, but NOT at first zip! I've never had a problem fitting boots over my calves. Yes, I've upped my running mileage recently, but not enough to bulk up. Yet the zipper was pinching inches before the top. . . Once I squeezed it tight, though, it was clear these will be in constant rotation. Splendidly comfy -- I wore this outfit Wednesday, my very long day, with nary a blister raised by the supple leather, despite the snug fit. And besides comfortable, dare I say they're a bit sassy?!
The skirt's a BCBG stretch jersey pencil skirt, also super comfy. Black tights, black boots, black stretch-cotton/poly T: I was mindful of Duchesse's recent caution about black on women our age. Still too warm in the classroom for a scarf--instead, I opted for these large chocolate gold beads as face-brightener. Studying the photo, I see I really must find a classic leather-strap watch. With my smaller stainless-steel-linked watch in the shop, I wore this Michael Kors big blue beast, which I'm finding too much for most outfits these days.

So there's a What I Wore for this week -- not sure anyone would deem this Academic Professional, but I liked it. Now off to figure out today's get-up and then move through Friday into the weekend. Mine's full of the first mountain of marking, but I'll squeeze in a treat or two. How's yours shaping up?

**She FB'd me yesterday that she bought a pair as well. Don't worry: we decided against a Sisters-in-Matching-Boots outing. . .

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

I Am . . . Clothes, Music, Food . . .

I had a few What I Wore shots for you, but then I left that camera in our Vancouver apartment. Instead, why don't I finally tell you about I am Love. If you haven't seen the movie yet, you have heard about its sumptuous decor and, especially, the stunning wardrobe designed by Raf Simons (of Jil Sander) for Tilda Swinton. Swinton's clothing is an additional tool through which her character's personality and narrative arc is expressed. It's beautiful clothing, elegant, somehow spare and rich simultaneously, restrained beauty in the earlier part of the film, increasingly exuberant as she moves toward, then into, her affair. The clothing is an expression of the wealth she enjoys through her husband, but it's also an expression of the constraints that wealth imposes -- so the lust it might inspire among its audience is somewhat ironic. Like the gorgeous rooms Swinton's character moves through, the fabulous linens and place settings on which the family receives mouth-watering course after course served by crisply uniformed servants, the clothing is part of the luxe porn that makes the film so sensuously satisfying to watch. At the same time, this wealth is, ultimately, condemned on several levels, , although I should say no more for fear of spoiling the ending for you.

Much has been said about the film's costuming already, of course, but I hadn't read anything to prepare me for the cinematography and the way that camerawork is complemented by the film score. I've never seen anything that compares to the close-up work in Love. The macro lens goes in to accent seemingly random details and to meditate on them one by one -- there's a tantalizing, wonderful scene where food is treated this way to amazing effect; others where it's flower petals or grass seeds or insects that yield their smallest parts to the camera's dissection. And the music that accompanies this? Why hadn't I heard that the film score was predominantly John Adams? Yes, that John Adams -- of Nixon in China fame, the opera we saw last spring and were blown away by -- a considerable part of I am Love's soundtrack comprises selections from the opera. Adams' minimalist use of motifs which build intensity through repetition powerfully pairs with the camerawork to deliver one of, if not the, most compelling sex scenes you'll have seen in a long time.

I have to admit that the narrative and the character development didn't convince or seduce me -- the film's script is very far from its strong point. But what a joy to watch Swinton -- so impressive that she speaks Italian (among other languages) well enough to play this part. (I've no idea whether she manages to at least imply the Russian accent that her character would have). And so does Marisa Berenson, who I haven't seen in anything forever, but who plays one of those very thin, very well-dressed, almost aristocratic Italian women very credibly.

The film definitely has its detractors, but although it may fall short in terms of its script, you will certainly feel you've had your money's worth as you leave the theatre. I would urge, though, that you try to see it now while it's still in the theatre. Unless you have a crazily-expensive home entertainment room, you'll have trouble replicating the effect of the big screen and film projector combo, never mind the sound. Adams' score really deserves to be heard on great speakers, and somehow this seems a movie for red plush theatre seats -- I'd skip the popcorn, though. It won't compare well with the film's culinary temptations.

Italy Bicycle Tours

Bike Tours Bicycle Vacations Cycling Tour by Ciclismo Classico
Bike Tours Bicycle Vacations Cycling Tour by Ciclismo Classico - Ciclismo Classico provides the ... Jeremy W., New York, NY “Bike Across Italy was the best. ...
Trip Finder - About the Trips - About Us - Careers
www.ciclismoclassico.com

Cycle Italia, Bicycle Tours Italy, Tuscany, Piedmont, Umbria ...
Bicycle Tours Italy - Cycling Tours Italy - CycleItalia has its roots in the Italian cycling getaways they planned as a couple, exploring the ...
Tours - Bicycles - Tour Details
www.cycleitalia.com

Bike Tours Europe - Bicycle Tours in Italy & France | Great Cycling
GreatCycling is a family-run business whose owners are passionate about European cycling. Custom-made international biking vacations for the perfect bike ...
www.greatcycling.com/

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Much Ado About Boots


We're in Vancouver for the weekend -- the kids gave Pater a series of cooking classes as a retirement gift and yesterday he sharpened us his knife skills (tee-hee!). Meanwhile, I had a long run then put in some serious Nana time at the park and shared some delicious mac'n'cheese -- and got Nola to say "muddy buddies" about 34 times because she gets so many cute syllables into those two words!
Afterwards I trolled the shops getting a sense of the Fall goodies. And Wow! there is a lot of grey and black out there! Accented by camel, which I really can't wear. I was looking for a particular shade of taupe, slightly rosy, that I know will be perfect with a skirt I love but haven't quite got the right top for. I'm thinking a cashmere T, preferably with a V-neck. It's not out there.
But these boots are. Thanks to my sister, who sent me a Fluevogram with a picture of them and a note that she wondered if they'd be great with her new MaxMara coat, I had to go check them out in person. And I think I need a new pair of boots. The Britney, as these are called. I'm pretty sure I need these boots.
Also went to see Much Ado About Nothing in the wonderful Bard on the Beach mainstage tent -- such a sparkling production with beautiful costumes (Edwardian, by Mara Gottler who has her own very delicious fashion label). Even made up for the festival seating (first-come-first-seated means lining up before doors open to scramble for seats), the not-too-comfy chairs, and the porta-potties -- apparently there is a new tent in the works for next year which will perhaps remedy some of these minor discomforts. And, as I say, these were all worth suffering for this version of Ado, which had the audience laughing out loud at many points throughout. Indeed, I think the audience was able to follow particularly well because the articulation was so clear -- I suspect this had something to do with the talents of voice coach Alison Mathews. I've never been able to hear so precisely the words of a Shakespeare play, each one as well-formed in my inner ear as if I'd had the script right in front of me.
The play is in its last week --- after next weekend those splendid red and white tents will depart from Kits taking the last bit of summer with them, and we'll switch to opera and other distractions from the fall rains.
Meanwhile, some of us will be sighing over boots. What do you think? Do the Britneys get your approval?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Leather and Tough Spots and Treats, Oh Yes!

Duchesse's post yesterday has me figuring how I can stop by Danier's to check out their leather Ts and sheath dress. We'll be so close this weeekend, but we're only over 'til Sunday morning and Saturday's already got a run, some Nola time, and a Shakespeare play on the agenda.

So I'm reminding myself, Steady, Woman, Didn't you just buy yourself some pretty leather? . . .
Which reminded me I'd promised to model it for you, instead of simply showing it on the young modelshow you how a woman of a certain age ather than on the model. This isn't the best photo -- I'm wearing a thick leather belt underneath, as if my own middle weren't girth enough! And Pater always takes so long setting up the shots that my smile and pose stiffen and skew (he's working on it. . .). But you get the idea.


I didn't get home 'til almost 10 last night, after a long day that culminated in teaching a class from 6 'til 9. And in my body's twisted logic, that meant I didn't sleep well (why fatigue should translate into restless nights I can never understand) and have been awake since before 5 although I refused to get out of bed before 6. So I suspect today will feel at least as long as yesterday, even though I'll be done earlier. Funny how it all seemed so do-able in the planning process -- what was I thinking?

And the Pilates class I was so glad to get back to has left me excruciatingly aware of my musculature, particularly of the abdominal area. Ouch!

But I've got a little treat planned for Thursday mornings -- I've decided that since my Wednesday nights make the early Thursdays a challenge, I won't bother getting my breakfast at home those days but instead will head to our wonderful Mon Petit Choux for coffee and a brioche. Thus imbibing some Paris memories along with my morning repast, I'll be fortified for the day. So that's where I'm off to now.

What treats have you planned to get you through the tough spots? Do tell . . .

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Bike Tours in Japan

Welcome to Oka Tours! -Specialists in bike tours in Japan
We offer deluxe cycling trips in Japan mainly for non-Japanese guests visiting or living in Japan. Traveling by bicycle is an ideal way to explore Japan and ...
www.okatours.com/

Bike Tours Japan : Private Guided Bike Tours Japan, Self Guided ...
A Cycling tour in Japan, unique bicycle tips in Hokkaido traveling with Bike Tours Japan.
www.biketoursjapan.com/

Bicycle tours in Japan, cycling vacations in Japan
We have compiled a list of bicycle tours in Japan. If you are interested in any of these bicycle tours or cycling vacations, please contact the operator ...
www.infohub.com › Bicycle tours

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Sailing Through a Fall Week

So I'd say that was just about enough introspection for at least a week! Let's all look at something else, shall we? Like yesterday's morning sunrise, watching some lucky someone's yacht work its way around to the harbour. . .
I'm sure its passengers were all contentedly enjoying their morning coffee while I stood on the deck with my tea and my camera.

Then, since I was outside already and since my slippers have fairly sturdy soles, I couldn't resist taking the camera down to the beach . . .

But then that whole nasty business of earning a living intruded, and some getting dressed and packing a lunch ensued, and soon there I was in front of a classroom, mostly having fun -- Week Two is still pretty much honeymoon although it takes tons of energy, on my part at least. Only a bit of impatience at a few students who wondered if they should buy the books soon. Um, yes, and the four chapters listed for today's reading in your course outline weren't a clue? Mostly, though, we had lively and interesting discussions about the reading, and I'm beginning to know which voices will pop up most regularly, which tentative faces in the back row need a bit of encouraging, which awkward, quiet student in the front row will deliver occasional brilliant surprises.

And after teaching my two 90-minute classes and meeting with students during my office hours and working through an e-pile of administrative stuff, I happily stretched to my heart's content (although probably to today and tomorrow's sore muscles) at my first Pilates class after a too-long studio summer closure. Especially given all the running I've been doing, the stretching has been sorely missed (hmmm, that pun wasn't intended but it works).

Home, then, to an empty house at the end of the day -- after four or five years being on my own during the week, this is the first time since Pater's retirement that I've had the place all to myself. And I'll admit that as much as I love having him around again -- and having dinner ready when I get home doesn't hurt his cause at all -- I'm also very happy with my own company, and the quiet was very pleasantly expansive.

The sharp angle of the almost-setting sun shone a crisp light on these vessels, and I was pulled out onto the deck with my camera again, book-ending the day. . . (you may have to click on this photo to see the CPrail ferry against the island shore below).
Today's a busy one, and I teach an evening class (6-9) -- a long day, which may put a dent in my positive attitude. But perhaps you'll share yours, and it will all be good. Or perhaps I can simply look at my photos and remember what beauty is out there, just for the looking . . .

Sunday, September 12, 2010

My Portrait, Revealed

A few weeks ago, I began writing about portraits in response to the wonderful show that recently closed at the Vancouver Art Gallery, and I intimated that I would follow up by telling you something of the two portraits of myself made at very different stages of my life. Once I took out the first one, though, I realized this might take longer than I'd thought, and I paused for a while to reflect on some aspects of my younger self. Finally, I began posting on the nude as genre, and it finally seemed I might get to the end of this long sidling-up to my own nude portrait, but I found myself wanting to theorize first about the patriarchal/male gaze under which we construct and represent ourselves. Instead of talking about the portrait I'd sat for, I ended by admitting my complicity in that male gaze and pointing to the screen it placed between myself and my very good friend, the artist who painted me.

Before I continue, one more bit of stalling -- an attempt to understand and explain my delaying tactics. As far as I am aware, three elements especially make me feel hugely vulnerable and uncomfortable in writing about this portrait. As Sidonie Smith has pointed out in her defining work on female life-writing, women writing their lives are already defying cultural traditions and expectations. Remember that old dictum that there are only three occasions in a woman's life when her name should properly appear in the paper, birth, marriage, and death. Of course we've moved beyond that, but not so very long ago that our unconscious is immune. And, um, writing about one's nude portrait? Doesn't quite meet the propriety standards. It's bad enough to have one painted, by why on earth would I talk about and draw attention to the fact?! So Discomfort Number One.


Then my ambivalent feelings about my very good friend, the artist, feelings I can't not discuss if I'm going to speak honestly about the portrait, feelings which were part of my commitment to the process. My concern here is less with how Alison will respond to what I write here as it is with exposing my own insecurity or pettiness or whatever this comparison might be on any given day. Discomfort Number Two.


And, finally, the portrait itself, the finger it points my way. (Indexical, say the semioticians.) Owning one's own nudity is difficult and feels at least unseemly, if not all out transgressive, at least for most women of my generation. Wanting such a portrait, sitting for it, deciding where to hang it, and being in its presence either alone or with others, all these are socially awkward, at least they have been for me. Outside of my family, I have only ever told two people besides yourselves that I've sat for, and own, such a portrait. And now here I am. Discomfort Number Three.


So, let's get on with it, shall we?


I met Alison over twenty years ago, in an aerobics class we attended three times a week, parking our pre-schoolers in an adjoining program for some respite from the stay-at-home gig. When we were still just nodding acquaintances, Pater and I attended a Fundraising and Information evening for an environmental cause -- saving an Old Growth Rainforest from logging -- to which Alison had contributed a painting. A slim, beautiful woman (a mutual friend once likened her to Andie MacDowell), subtly hip elegance in a fitted black dress embellished only by her thick, dark, shoulder-length hair, she spoke passionately and convincingly. Shortly afterward, we began exchanging those coffee mornings that get stay-at-home moms through the long days entertaining little ones, and eventually began managing regular runs together as well.


Through the years, Alison has commiserated with me over travails of child-rearing and we’ve regaled each other with its delights; she cheered me on as I went back to school for, first, my undergrad degree and then grad school, and was hugely supportive as I struggled through the slough of despond that is dissertation-writing. I, meanwhile, was lucky enough to read drafts of her first book, a memoir of a long-ago summer she spent working as a naturalist, and was thrilled to attend the launch of that book and see it go on to pick up nominations and prizes and a continuing place on its publisher's backlist. Since then, she's added a book of poetry to her achievements, and has a novel well underway as part of an MFA she's currently working on. Exhibitions of her painting are always well-attended (a number of them hang on our walls), and her travel CV includes regular work in the Galapagos as a naturalist, a sailing trip across the Pacific with her husband, birding in South America, camping in China with her then teenage son. . . the list goes on.


Oh, and I already mentioned that she's beautiful, right?


So judge me for this, or admit you sometimes do the same thing, I have, through the years of a very close friendship with this woman I love dearly, felt envious, felt something akin to, but not exactly, resentment, and, above all, felt myself obviously lesser on an invisible scale I could always see. Having internalized that male gaze from earliest consciousness, I believed -- no, knew -- that gaze would always favour her, and sometimes, along with warm friendship was a niggling degree of envy, even resentment.


To my credit, I was feminist enough and good friend enough and self-reflexive enough, that I worked to get past this occasional response -- and troubled by its signalling of my own, hmmmm, insecurity for want of a more nuanced term. Because meanwhile, I had my own successes to celebrate and I was also, in the eyes of my husband, a beautiful and desirable woman (I absolutely cringe at writing these words -- so much, culturally, tells me to delete them immediately in all their immodesty). In fact, this guy wanted a nude portrait of his beautiful wife and would playfully (hopefully) suggest from time to time that we find an artist who could paint one.


For several years I dismissed his idea as preposterous, but then about five or six years ago, The Globe and Mail featured a photographic exhibition comprising an artist's nude portraits of his mother, an admittedly overweight woman in her 60s. Some of these photographs were reproduced for millions to see in their weekend paper and they were beautiful and moving and powerful and vulnerable and difficult. They really challenged me, these portraits, as did my admiration for this woman's courageous allegiance to a personal politics. And I began thinking that it might be time to take some small steps toward a richer view of female beauty, to take some responsibility for closing the gap between my inside and my outside.


Around the same time, coincidentally, on one of our walks Alison mentioned that she had been working that winter on a series of nude drawings of the women in her poetry group, most of them in their sixties, some in their seventies. She was exhilirated by the experience, moved by how beautiful this older flesh was, she told me, with its wrinkles and folds and humanity. So I tentatively asked her if she could be comfortable, should I work up the courage, to do a nude portrait of me as a gift for Pater's next birthday.


And yes, the rest is now history, as in a historical visual record of one woman's mid-life nudity in the early 21st century. What you can't see in this record is the sitting, the two of us in my living-room, working together to find a place and a position, a pose I could feel comfortable in. Aware of my extra pounds in contrast to Alison's own slimness, I nonetheless knew that hers was a kind and appreciative eye, a friend's and an artist's. In response, I drew on my own contentment with the aspects of this body that serve me well, its sturdiness, its ability to nurture, its wholeness and healthiness, and, yes, its sensuousness and sensuality.


Despite working to affirm my self-image as the portrait was in progress, I will admit to some dismay when confronted with the finished piece. While Pater was immediately thrilled with it, intrigued and touched by the idea of Alison and I working on it together as a gift for him, my first response was to see my middle as thick. But I was also fascinated by the likeness of the hair and the face, and I was delighted with the gaze that meets the viewer so directly. Not even enigmatic, the gaze keeps the subject -- me -- screened from the viewer even as she sits naked before him or her. As viewer, you may see my naked body -- at least as much as I choose to reveal, in a pose that is deliberately careful, but you cannot even begin to imagine my thoughts. Meanwhile, I am clearly looking back at you, and my gaze is so penetrating that you must accept a reciprocality of relationship that is rarely indicated through the history of the female nude.


But perhaps the most interesting aspect, the most rewarding, of my response to this portrait is how it continues to evolve. I have begun to see, in the lines of my torso, the same lines that used to dismay me with their reflection of too much padding, simply the lines of my body, this body, the one I'm living in, have always lived in. Lines that move me and that move with me, lines that mark the borders where I meet the world. Lines that my friend drew, observing what she claimed was their beauty, and which I now, slowly, belatedly, begin to recognize for myself. For which I thank her and her female gaze -- which has educated my own.


And to close on a lighter note, an anecdote.


Placement of this portrait was a concern at one point. Our children are all adults, used to our oddities, and their partners are becoming accustomed to us as well. So we hemmed and we hawed, we debated where it was less likely to be seen and to embarrass, and finally, we simply hung it in the bedroom of the condo and let folks deal with it. The first few viewings may have been awkward (for my son, perhaps, more than others), but it's become such a non-issue that I'd completely forgotten it until changing Nola's diaper on our bed a few weeks ago. My son-in-law was setting up her Bjorn porta-crib in the room, and we both cracked up at the delightful absurdity of the potentially awkward situation when Nola pointed from the bed to my portrait on the wall, and called out "Nana, Nana."


Why, yes it is, sweetie, yes she is indeed.



What? You're still waiting? Oh, surely you never thought I'd put the full portrait online?! Sorry, but this is as revealing as it gets. . .

Friday, September 10, 2010

Week's End, Re-charging . . .

Wow! That was a busy, busy week. The academic workplace demands such a change of energy to move from research, reading, and coursework prep into active teaching mode. And the beginning of term, creating a positive and productive classroom dynamic among 30 or so hesitant yet eager new students, is especially adrenaline-dependent. Learning the names of 90 students, introducing course goals credibly and effectively, asserting expectations clearly, and, above all, getting a lively discussion going and motivating reading and writing as quickly as possible among students who don't know each other. My social energy depleted by the time I get home, I'm so grateful that newly-retired Pater, in my weekday domestic space for the first time in many, many years, understands. Rather than expecting (or trying to initiate) a lively conversation when I step inside the door, he merely kisses me and gestures to dinner ready on the stove. This could work, this husband-at-home arrangement I so worried about . . .

He's been working on a few projects in the garden -- perhaps I'll feature those later -- but this week, all I've done out there is admire the last of the summer colour and the emergence of the richer fall tones. Top to bottom here: Pheasant Berry (Leycesteria formosa) berries (also commonly known as Himalayan Honeysuckle); then the Hardy Fuschia, a survivor from an original garden on this property, decades old; and finally, the lovely climbing rose, Awakening. This last is a sport of the much-acclaimed New Dawn; it can be difficult to find, but I lucked into it about ten years ago at the Old Rose Nursery on Hornby Island and I see it listed still in their catalogue.


As sumptuously pink and petalled as it is, it boasts a rich fragrance as well (like Hostess, I wouldn't have a rose that didn't!)
The gardens, a husband chef, a nap or two, a Battlestar Gallactica DVD, and I'll be powered up for week two. I'll be back in this space over the weekend -- a few more garden photos, some movie notes, and the last installment of my portrait essay. Meanwhile, though, how are you powering-up, re-charging after your own busy weeks?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Bicycle Tours in China

Bike China Adventures, Inc. - Main Page
An experienced guide will ride with you for a week or so to show you the "ropes" of cycle touring in China. You'll receive short language lessons, ...
Scheduled Tours - Products - About Us
www.bikechina.com/

Bicycle tours in China, cycling vacations in China
We have compiled a list of bicycle tours in China. If you are interested in any of these bicycle tours or cycling vacations, please contact the operator ...
www.infohub.com › Bicycle tours

China Bike Tours-China Biking-China Cycling Trips- BICYCLE KINGDOM ...
Professional China Bike tours and Bike Rentals provider in Beijing,Shanghai,Suzhou,China. Amazing sites cycling in China ,Bilingual Guided ,High quality ...
www.bicyclekingdom.com/

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Back to School Clothes

Poor Pater -- I interrupted his new retirement habit of reading the papers on-line this morning, asking him if he'd photograph my back-to-school outfit for my blog. He made sure to take enough shots from enough angles to guarantee at least some success, and he even knew I'd want the shoes in the photo.

And then as a reward he got to listen to me being dismayed about the truths the camera offers. I obviously still have too much in common with that teen-aged self whose portrait I shared with you the other day. But I am determined to get comfortable with -- even like! -- my visual image within my lifetime. So here I am, in a BR shirtdress, my black patent Browns brogues, tights (which I assumed were black when I grabbed them out of the drawer this morning, but turned out, in the light of day to be navy), a Birks necklace, and a leather belt.
A comfortable, yet authoritative combo, I thought, for facing all those new faces.
It was a bit odd to be wearing tights again after a summer in sandals and bare legs, but it was a good kind of odd -- I do like fall clothes, the shift to that more textured wardrobe. But the forecast is for sunshine tomorrow, and our non-air-conditioned and crowded classrooms mean I won't be packing away the sundresses yet.
So there you go -- a What I Wore post as promised. If only my students would do their homework so efficiently . . .

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Blogging while Slogging . . . Back to School

I can already tell posting will be light over the next week or so as I adjust to getting myself on campus four days a week. Besides an abundance of "contact" hours this term, the first-year sections will have me marking most weekends and evenings as well, and blogging will have to slip lower on the list for a while.

But there's always so much going on, in the garden, in the family, in the blogverse, in the wardrobe, that I know I'll still be here regularly, perhaps in briefer form, relying more on garden photos to say hello. And, of course, I have to follow up my last post with the promised "big reveal" . . . . I'm also thinking it's time to fit in a "What I Wore" post now and again, especially since recently-retired Pater is available to point that camera.

Meanwhile, though, better go figure out what I'm going to wear today to stand in front of all those eager newbies (please God, let just a few of them be eager, please?!).

So I'll leave you with these photos of the wonderfully red and shiny rose hips of rosa glauca. One of the many delights of September . . .