Thursday, 23 August 2012

reading recap::gilead.

i've read a few books this summer. and it's felt good to slip into a story when my own story has felt a little chaotic and disjointed. the summer is always so busy. FILLED with the goodness of good things and good friends and good moments, but all that goodness can be a little energy depleting. reading takes me outside of my commute and my away from the weariness of the world, if only for a few minutes.

this summer has seen so many good books fill my heart and head. but mainly, mostly, it was gilead that i keep returning to. keep thinking about.

to start, i should say that i generally don't love pulitzer prize winners. i know it's controversial. i know that's probably against the code of readers, but it's the truth. sometime pulitzers feel a little too much like english class and too little like downtime.

i loved this book. fell in love with this book. it felt like being written to by your grandfather, if you had a kind and strong and loving and faithful grandfather, and i did. it felt like all the best stories of his childhood and all the stories you remember about your own and all the things you hope for your own future children.

it is a very long letter, written by an old father to his very young son, the son he describes as one of his greatest gifts, a surprise in his twilight. it is to be the sum of his wisdom and hopes for his child. it is to be how he teaches him all there is to know of life and love and god and faith. i highlighted and highlighted. i felt my eyes welling up with tears again and again. it's the kind of book that is so startlingly beautiful you can barely contain the joy in your soul, hardly catch your breath.

it should be noted that gilead is also a place, it means rugged or mountain and in the old testament it refers to the area just north of the dead sea, it is a city of strife. this is notable because in the book, gilead, is also a town but it is a town that is mainly sleepy and peaceful in the way we (i) imagine mid-fifties, mid-western towns to be. slighly tumbleweedish, where people know each other, and where christianity is a cultural experience, if not also a spiritual one. but underneath it all, it is also a rugged place. mainly, it is a rugged place for the soul. the father, the old man who is dying, is so struggling with the resolve to live out a life of faith, despite desperately wanting to hold on for more.

it is a book of restoration:
And grace is the great gift. So to be forgiven is only have the gift. The other half is that we also can forgive and restore and liberate, and therefore we can feel the will of God enacted through us, which is the great restoration of ourselves to ourselves. 

of seeking faith:
So my advice is this - don't look for proofs. Don't bother with them at all. they are never sufficient to the question, and they're always a little impertinent, I think, because they claim for God a place within our conceptual grasp...I'm not saying never doubt or question. The Lord gave you a mind so that you make honest use of it. I'm saying you must be sure that the doubts and questions are your own, not, so to speak, the mustache and walking stick that happen to be the fashion of any particular moment. 

of humility:
And often enough, when we think we are protecting ourselves, we are struggling against our rescuer. 

whether or not you are a person of faith, this book will bless you. go read it. but might i suggest, reading it at a time when you have a moment to slow? i was on vacation when i read this. i needed to be. there was so much life in this book about dying that i needed moments to look up from what i was reading and ponder. it is not a read that should be hurried. it should be savoured. it should be ruminated upon.

there is a companion novel to gilead called home. i am desperate to read this, i am also sure i need to have a slow place in my life to do so, this one, i will keep for the next break.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012


it's come to our attention that we really love london a little bit more, when we don't spend every waking moment in london. she's really very lovely. but then, so are other little bits of this fair isle. we've resolved to try to take little mini-breaks more frequently. just a saturday night away from home can be so refreshing and achieved with such little effort.

this weekend we had hopes for a day at the beach with friends down on the south coast. at lunch on friday i called le boy and said - shall we make a bit of a weekend of it? and so we decided to take a drive down to portsmouth, with a stopover in winchester.

winchester saw us score a fantastic deal on shoes - leather brogues, how i have wanted you for sooooo long. and a wonderful poke around just the loveliest of little shops - the hambledon. it's basically a store of joy. in fact, that is what i declared as we walked in and saw the wall of shelves filled with vintage-y kitchen bits...

i was a goner from the time i saw the weck canning jars. oh. my. word. and i put them to use the other night. i'll explain later.

we ambled around for a couple of hours, and ultimately decided that returning to winchester for a proper visit was really the order of the day. on the list it goes.

we spent the night in portsmouth - a lovely seaside town, with an enormous history of sailing and ports and the shipping trade. after realising that our budget and the cost of touring the ship weren't exactly compatible, we decided to walk around and soak up the free history instead.

we spent the rest of the afternoon napping. it was heavenly.

sunday we drove to christchurch and enjoyed the beach, a little spit of land which requires a 10 minute ride on a toy train or a 25 min walk. we trained out and walked back. it was a lovely day and it was perfect beach weather. blue sky with the occasional cloud (a nice respite from the sun) and HOT. finally.

and so when we returned to our darling city it didn't seem quite so loud or tiring. and we are planning our next getaway.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012


i don't really know where i've been except to say that this august has flown by and it's been non-stop the entire time.

it's been good though, making me re-evaluate how i want to set up patterns of work and play and how to make life easier. there have been a few breakthroughs regarding how to make the most of the moments we are offered. maybe, i'll get back into a posting routine and share a few of those thoughts.

but first. really the reason i was mia for the first half of august is that the olympics were on - normally a distraction that can be mediated with television and screaming wildly - it's a completely different experience for it to be HOSTED in your hometown.

let me just say - i am SO SO SO proud of this city we call home. there was nothing but goodwill and generosity and truly joyful spirits around this part of the world for two weeks. it was so great that i'm very much looking forward to doing it all again in a couple weeks time for the paralympics. london was on show for the entire world to see and it was fun to be part of it. even in small ways. travel around the city was fantastic, the vibe and excitement was palpable and really, olympic spectators are amongst the nicest of sportsfans...

it was a great pleasure to be able to experience a few events in person, a kind friend gave me a ticket to the diving, which i'll re-live in a future post (you see i really am serious about getting back on the blog). but first, it was the men's road race. the truth is, i live with a cycle-fanatic. i'm not even exaggerating. i believe that our summer vacations will hence-forth be scheduled to coincide with the tour de france, it's just so fun to watch from first thing in the morning! and given that le boy has spent no less than eight months looking for just the 'perfect' new bike (still as yet, undecided...) you can appreciate that really, we're cycle-mad. to have this event in our own backyard (literally) was beyond incredible.

we met up early on the saturday morning with a couple of friends from around town and cycled (how else to get to the route?) to richmond park, the favoured cycling destination in greater london. i'll let the pictures tell the rest of the story.

Friday, 3 August 2012


it's been a week of catching our breath. the kind that you never feel finished. i mean really, how is one supposed to complete anything with hours of olympic coverage to catch up on? i miss my childhood summer holidays - it's the only time i remember having absolute freedom to watch tv for hours on end, how can a parent really say, stop supporting your country and go outside? plus it was usually 35 outside and humid and really midday and outside was less attractive, to everyone.

but now, i'm working and depend on sneaking peeks online during the day and using catch-up player in the evenings. it's a bit bizzare to live in the same city as the olympics. and it's great. plus it's bringing friends back to us for a week, so in my opinion, it's amazing!

this weekend will be spent assembling IKEA dressers (yes!) and organizing the last of our clothes. i can definitively say that  we officially have too many workout clothes. it's crazy. insane-crazy. i'm not sure i'd be exaggerating if i said that fully one-half of the combined wardrobe was workout gear. i told you. insanity.

we'll also celebrate our first anniversary - but that deserves it's own excitement. and post.

last week we started off the olympics with a viewing of the road race. there were high hopes for a british medal that just weren't to be, but it was great to get out and see the excitement of the cycling community, in a place we so regularly enjoy. le boy kept saying, "it's just so weird to see them cycling on my cycle route..." i'm going to diving on tuesday with a friend, and i'm so excited! and we're hoping to catch some more live events over the next week.

july recap: 


  • i've kept up with the nehemiah study and LOVE it! such a great dig into the old testament, it has been a blessing on my summer. 
  • memorisation has flagged a little, with travelling and a bit of laziness, but neh 2:18 has been a great scripture to think about regularly. 
  • completed three books in july, each of them such wonderful reads that i believe the deserve a little post all their own. but if you've not yet read the following, download them to kindle, rush out to buy them at your local bookstore, or click on over to amazon...beautiful, inspiring reads, each of them.
    • a visit from the goon squad - jennifer egan 
    • state of wonder - ann patchett 
    • gilead: a novel - marilynne robinson 
  • i wanted to be active everyday of our vacation - this was easily achieved in the hot (but dry heat) california. not so easily achieved in ontario where our days were packed from morning to night and the humidty was almost oppressive. it reached over 40 one day, that did me in. 
  • plane crochet - a nice little basket for my knitting in the front room 
  • diy around the house - pillow covers sewn, spray painted picture frames, lots of painting in a small room, dreaming up finishing touches 

::august intentions::

  • finish out the nehemiah study strong 
  • pick up the last of my bible-in-a-year-two years plan and get to work on finishing it 
  • memorise three scriptures 
  • reading 'the art of fielding' by chad harbach and finding it absorbing. 
  • read something else 
  • i will admit that i've started weight watchers - and it's working! i've lost 4.5 lbs! which feels really, really good. i'm using the online plan and think that it might be the key to some success for me. i realised that really, i'm already so active that i have to change my eating habits (particularly that cheese as an afternoon snack habit)
  • my trainer has me on a new four days a week strength plan and i would LOVE to actually hit the gym consistently four days a week - i'm looking forward to some serious strength gains this month! 
  • finishing the drapes and bits of home-dec sewing that are languishing (on my kitchen table no-less) 
  • finishing off decorating the spare room and 'lounge' ie family room 
  • begin my autumn knitting project. i realised that i needed to get going if i wanted to actually be able to wear it come the cooler weather - which here, is sadly, just around the corner
enjoy august friends - i just love the meaning of the word - to inspire awe and admiration - i am hoping that this month does just that for all of us!