Thursday, June 29, 2006

Itty Bitty Book Review: "The Song of the Lark"

"The Song of the Lark" by Willa Cather.

I found this in a bookstore when we were in Port Angeles. I've read some of her short stories but not any of her novels so was rather interested to see what one was like. Really rather good especially considering it was published in 1915. It's about the development of a talented young girl from Colorada farming area who becomes a very famous opera singer. Very advanced really for its take on the difficulty of women trying to do something non-traditional.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Itty Bitty Book Review: "We Need to Talk about Kevin"

"We Need to Talk about Kevin" by Lionel Shriver

A bookclub choice and quite a slog to get through. I guess it tries to get at why children end up killing their peers in school shootings but isn't particularly successful. Just didn't ring true to me on any level.

I found it rather ironic that the author changed her name to a male name so she wouldn't be victim to gender prejudice but the award she won for this book (the Orange Prize) is only for women authors!

Also, she isn't a mother and the point of view is first person narrative from the mother's point of view. Not that you can't write about things you don't have direct experience with but I think in this case it shows.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Welcome Tiloup!

Monique has a new little dog, a French Poodle called "Tiloup" short for Petit Loup which means "little wolf", and he is just delightful! He's just 8 weeks old and I know we'll all enjoy him...a really cute little fun guy already.

Monique and Tiloup

Peanut and Jim.

Annette's second painting in the Camus series

Annette and I were painting again today...isn't this great! Opus #2 in the Camus series.

8 x 10
acrylic on paper

Cowichan Bay

Took the convertible out for a run up to Cowichan Bay and had lunch at the Rock Cod Cafe, then for a swim in the outdoor pool at the University...summer seems finally to be here!

A few images of Cowichan Bay.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Lake Sutherland

We had a really super time on the Olympic Peninsula. Jim taught a class at the college there and Jim Fisher will return in the Fall to teach Jim's class. Jim and Ann put us up in their lovely boathouse with its own private hottub. Just great to listen to the waves lapping and looking at the wonderful view. We really enjoyed meeting their friend, Bobby, as well and he took us on a tour of the lake in his boat. We are looking forward to their visit in Victoria.

View from the Boathouse.

The Boathouse

Breakfast at Granny's was a treat.

Jim relaxing in the sun.

Jim and Bobby.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Itty Bitty Book Review: Old Filth

"Old Filth" by Jane Gardam

I hadn't heard of Jane Gardam but read a review of this book somewhere and it sounded very interesting and it was. I really enjoyed it and must read more of her. She is British and has written a lot of novels (two won the Whitbread Prize for fiction, one shortlisted for the Booker) and our library has quite a few.

"Filth" stands for "Failed in London, try Hong Kong" and is about a very successful lawyer who was a "Raj Orphan"...children whose parents were working in the Empire (he was born in Malaysia) and who sent them "home" to Britain at the age of five to avoid getting tropical diseases, then to be educated. An excellent story and a bit of a mystery as well.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Latest painting

“English Bay “
23 x 30 acrylic on linoleum mat

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Trip to Vancouver

We did lots of neat things in our few days in Van. It was really great to reconnect with old friends, Roger and Kerry and Donna...we hadn't seen each other for over 20 years. We had a good visit and lunch with John and Carole at the Watermark overlooking Kits. Food was excellent this time. And we just happened to be there when Edward and Sophie's motorcade drove down Burrard. So, old friends, family, and royalty...what more can you want!

Donna, me, Kerry

We met Richard after work and he took us on a tour of Technicolor...all top secret so just can show the heritage building in Yaletown where it is located.

Some really neat heritage houses they've preserved around where Technicolor is.

Our first day in Van was beautiful and sunny and we had dinner with Richard at the Boathouse
sitting outside overlooking English Bay.

We had a nice meal in this restaurant on Robson...loved the mural.

Window display in Hermes shop...hard to know if this metal bicycle was based on a real design. I thought it was very cool especially with the metal saddle bags.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Graduation Day

Congratualtions to Richard on getting his B.A. in English and Fine Arts! We all had a lot of fun at his grad at Simon Fraser University. The fog and the rain rolled in and it was fitting to be listening to bagpipes (we could have been in the Hebrides!)...then back to celebrate with some single malt to warm up then lunch.

Managed to get a quick photo during the procession.

Just before walking across the stage.

The three of us after.

"There were a hundred pipers and all and all..."

Everyone and their dog was there...

Monday, June 05, 2006

For Richard and his friends....

Pretty gray day at the Oak Bay Tea Party but I'm sure it wouldn't have stopped Richard and his friends having fun in the old days.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Paella Night

Had a really fun time with Annette, Patty & Terry, Don & Elaine last night and everyone enjoyed my paella.

Paella Simplified for 4 -6
(1/2 recipe for 2-3)

1 pound raw prawns or large shrimp (1/2 pound)
2 chicken breast halves or 4 thighs *skinless/boneless (1 br or 2 thighs)
1/2 pound scallops (1/4 pound scallops)
4 cups water (2 cups water)
1 large onion (1 medium onion)
4 garlic cloves, minced (2 cloves)
2 tsp salt (1tsp salt)
2 tbsp olive oil (1 tbsp )
1/2 lb chorizo sliced into 1/4 inch rounds) (1/4 pound)
1 large chopped green pepper (1 small )
1 28 can whole tomatoes *preferably plum ( 1 19 oz can)
2 cups long grain rice (1 cup)
1/2 tsp tabasco (1/4 tsp)
1/2 gram saffron (available in the seafood dept at Thrifty’s)
2 cups frozen peas, thawed and drained (1 cup)
1/2 pound mussels in shell if available or add more scallops/shrimp
1 jar red piminto *could be optional

Cook the chicken and cut into bite size pieces. Cooks scallops...sauté briefly. In large saucepan with boiling salted water (use 1 tsp of the salt) cook prawns or shrimp over high heat just until they turn pink, about 2 minutes. Peel. Reserve the shrimp water.
(*This can be done ahead of time. Refrigerate chicken and seafood.
Also, chop veg & chorizo ahead of time.)

In the dutch oven in the olive oil, saute garlic, onion, and green pepper for 3-4 minutes, add chorizo and saute for a few minutes more. Add 4 cups of shrimp water, tomatoes and juice, tabasco, saffron and other tsp of salt. Bring to simmer breaking up tomatoes with spoon.

Add rice and return to simmer. Cook over medium-low heat, tightly covered for about 20 minutes. For the last 10 minutes add cooked shrimp, chicken, scallops, and peas (and mussels in shell) . Mix in well and cover.

Serve in paella dish garnished with pimento if desired

Friday, June 02, 2006

Schooldays in Villette

For my friends who are currently preparing students for Grade 12 finals, this is a quote from Bronte's novel about the method of schooling in Villette.

"Here was a great house, full of healthy, lively girls, all well-dressed and many of them handsome, gaining knowledge by a marvellously easy method, without painful exertion or useless waste of spirits; not, perhaps, making very rapid progress in anything; taking it wasy, but still always employed, and never oppressed...

Masters came and went, delivering short and lively lectures, rather than lessons, and the pupils made notes of their instructions, or did not make them - just as inclination prompted; secure that, in case of neglect, they could copy the notes of their companions. Beside the regular monthly outings, the Catholic feast days brought a succession of holidays all year round; and sometimes on a bright summer morning , or a soft summer evening, the boarders were taken out for a long walk in the country and regaled with sweets and white wine...

Here, in short, was a foreign school; of which the life, movement, and variety made it a complete and most charming contrast to many English institutions of the same kind."

--From Bronte's "Villette" published in 1853.

Thursday, June 01, 2006


This past week I've been reading Charlotte Bronte's novel called "Villette" and assuming the name of the village "Villette" where it takes place was fictional. In the TC on the weekend there was an article on Chateau de la Villette which is an estate northwest of Paris in the village of Villette which served as Sir Leigh Teabing's pad in "The Da Vinci Code" movie. When I looked up "Villette" on Mapquest to see where the village was located, it appears there are no less than 9 villages called Villette in France!

Rather a coincidence I should pick up this book just as the movie hits town. Bronte's novel is almost exclusively character development...the opposite of the Da Vinci Code which is exclusively plot and action. I will never understand what all the fuss is about with Brown's novel. A super example of a page turner great for reading on planes and it ends at that for me.