Archive | September, 2010

Book review: The Outlander by Gil Adamson

29 Sep

It was night, and dogs came through the trees, unleashed and howling. They burst from the cover of the woods and their shadows swam across a moonlit field.

It is 1903 and Mary Boulton, 19, is on the run in the Rocky Mountains. Having killed her husband, she is steadily pursued through rugged terrain by her two red-headed brothers-in-law, armed and furious about their brother’s death.

The Outlander is the first novel by Toronto writer Gil Adamson, who had previously published works of poetry and short stories. Starting at a cracking pace, the novel settles into a steady rhythm as we follow Mary on a wild ride. She endures freezing nights in the mountains, risking frostbite and starvation as she desperately hides from her pursuers. Wild animals shuffle around her at night. Having been raised by her father and grandmother after her mother’s death, Mary’s well-heeled upbringing provides her with little useful knowledge for such conditions.

Fortunately for Mary, several likeable, unusual characters spring up in the nick of time to help. William Moreland, a solitary man who has lived in the mountains for nine years, becomes more than just a rescuer, and later, the friendly Reverend Bonnycastle changes Mary’s life. The rugged environment seems to house an unexpected number of kind souls.

As someone who has spent some time in Alberta and B.C., I loved the setting of the story and the descriptions of the Rockies. I could picture the startlingly beautiful meadow flowers and the animals that inhabit the area, and imagine how cold and bleak that location would be without the appropriate gear.

Read as part of the Canadian Book Challenge, The Outlander was a great read with memorable characters and a Hollywood-worthy ending.



Elizabeth Gilbert gets ready to travel

28 Sep

Going to Las Vegas is exciting. I’m heading off at the start of next week, and accompanying me will be Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat Pray Love. This book will be my first “BookCrossing” release, a wild release at that, meaning that it will be left anonymously in a random location to (hopefully) make another book-lover’s day. Note that the book has been decked out in “Official BookCrossing Book” stickers! It’s funny, I think giving does feel better than receiving, even when I’m not sure who the recipient will be.

get grateful on sunday: 6

26 Sep

“Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude.”

– Denis Waitley

I’ve had such a busy but fulfilling week. Lots to be grateful for, as always.

  • At the forefront of my mind, as I look out the window at a beautiful blue sky and sunshine, is my gratitude for the improvement in Winnipeg’s weather over the past couple of days, from around 10-12 degrees last week to a forecast of around 22 degrees today. I am unabashedly expressing gratitude for this in the hope that more fine weather will come our way before winter sets in!
  • I received not one but three parcels from Australia this week! Inside were warm and useful things such as beanies (or ‘touques’ as I’m now calling them!) and scarves, and much-loved essentials such as Vegemite and Australian paw paw lotion.
  • There is a flyer in the foyer of my building announcing a condo barbecue to be held next weekend, weather permitting. As a new resident who hasn’t met any other of the other occupants, the lunch will be a great opportunity to introduce myself. I’m a bit nervous though, as I’m very shy when I don’t know people.
  • A major opportunity has presented itself this week in terms of future career prospects, which is why I have barely had time to look at my blog, or anyone else’s. If I work hard and stay focused, I may be on my way to a very fulfilling work life.
  • I’m tremendously grateful for an insight about my own behaviour this week. In recent years I have tried to implement changes in my own life through studying yoga and personal development, which has led to some real positive outcomes for me. But I’ve recently become aware that my expectations of myself and others are dragging me down: trying to do an hour of meditation, plus cardio exercise, plus yoga asanas each day, as well as having a money-saving regimen that leaves no room for nice things for myself, I was starting to look at each day as a bit, well, tiring. Since that realisation I’ve started cooking delicious dinners, eating Chinese take-out and just backing off a bit in terms of the exercise and meditation. There’s no point being super-healthy and wealthy if you’re not having any fun.

In the spirit of living a less regulated life, I’m only writing five gratitudes instead of ten and I’m going to enjoy the sun!

Have a great Sunday!

get grateful on sunday: 5

19 Sep

“Nothing that is done for you is a matter of course. Everything originates in a will for the good, which is directed at you. Train yourself never to put off the word or action for the expression of gratitude.”

– Albert Schweitzer

Ten things I am expressing gratitude for this week:

  • I have been loaned a nice red bicycle, which will allow me to get out and see more of the surrounding area. A lovely thing about a small town versus a big city is that you can ride a bike in relative safety
  • I’ve been trying to save money recently, and what do you know, in the mail this week I received a refund from an LA hotel that overcharged me a couple of months ago
  • As much as I enjoy time by myself, I do miss my friends back home since I’ve moved overseas. This week though I met two lovely people in town who gave me their phone numbers so we can hang out. Yay, friends!
  • I love seasonal vegetables. They are so cheap and yet you can make so many healthy and delicious dishes from them
  • I’m grateful for the other people out there who are making interesting and unconventional choices in their lives, reminding me why I don’t want a house in the suburbs with kids and an SUV. That’s not a criticism of those who do want that; it’s just not for me
  • My first haircut in this new town turned out fine! I was also complemented on my beautiful hair instead of being sold something for dryness/oiliness/dullness
  • It has been lovely weather for walking, being crisp and cool at first, and then just right once I’ve warmed up a bit
  • I’m grateful for animals, for the dogs I see each day, the random kitties who cross my path and the big old cat who greets me as I enter my building
  • I love my Lavazza coffee, the thing that gets me out of bed every morning
  • It was nice to hear from people at home who remind me that I’m important to them and that my presence is missed while I’m so far away

I hope everyone enjoys the rest of their weekend 🙂

Want to read…

18 Sep

Country Roads: Memoirs From Rural Canada (2010)

Edited by Pam Chamberlain

I grew up in a country town where rubberneckers reclined in the main street to stare at all who walked by, and the only bar in town was called ‘Ringers’ and had a decor involving hay bales. This town both scarred me and also made me who I am. Growing up in the country rarely leaves a person indifferent to their youth.

So I’m quite keen to read Country Roads: Memoirs from Rural Canada, in which 32 Canadians share their stories of what it’s like to grow up far away from the city lights. Award-winning authors Sharon Butala and Rudy Wiebe are amongst those who share their experiences here.

a random act

16 Sep

I committed a random act of kindness today, baking cupcakes and taking them into my boss’s office for her to share with her staff. As luck would have it, one of the staff members had quit just before I arrived, so I think some chocolatey goodness topped with vanilla frosting was just what the doctor ordered!

goals 2010/2011

15 Sep
My hand-written journal hardly ever gets a look-in these days! I’m transferring my goals for 2010/2011 from my journal to my blog so I can keep up with my progress here. I wrote the list before I moved to North America:
  • start a blog (hey, achieved!)
  • take a further course in meditation
  • learn to ice skate
  • visit Riding Mountain National Park
  • attend the Winnipeg Writer’s Festival
  • see the Grand Canyon
  • volunteer somewhere
  • join a book club
  • try snowshoeing
  • read a short-story collection by Alice Munro
  • do one big North American trip (maybe Florida or Churchill or Nova Scotia, to be decided)
  • learn to cook home-made perogies
  • see a moose in the wild
  • go canoeing/kayaking on one of the lakes
  • release books via BookCrossing

I’ll probably add to the list as I go. I’ve given myself until the end of 2011 to complete the goals due to the planning involved in the travel items, and also because, my cooking skills being what they are, it may take 15 months to learn to make perogies 😉