Life After Life...

Finished Kate Atkinson's novel last night around 2-ish, and I felt so rumpled about it, I decided I should throw it up for discussion here. [This review is pretty much spoiler-free, but I expect to address actual plot items in the comments, so you may want to avoid reading those if you plan to read this story one day..]


I'd heard many good things about LIFE AFTER LIFE before reading, but the story ended up being nothing remotely like what I expected. Don't get me wrong -- Atkinson is a lovely writer, with a gift for an ascerbic turn of phrase that made me laugh out loud more than once.

However, this is NOT a funny book. Taken as historical fiction, it is a heart-breaking look at the immensity of the loss the English middle classes suffered during the two largest wars of the twentieth century. It veers sharply away from nostalgia, with even the pastoral pre-war years being pretty much fraught with unexpected cataclysm underlying the every day life of its protagonist Ursula Todd.

[There is a small side-note equating Ursula's patronym with a fox -- Tod -- but it's more likely the German etymology that Atkinson was employing here...]

Though I might have a quarrel with the way the story unfolds (particularly in the tricky middle chapters), and some of the world-building choices made by the author; by the end of the story I came to accept LIFE AFTER LIFE as a rumination on Ursula's search for herself. I wasn't satisfied by the ending, and I'm pretty sure that was the intention, but I will remember this book, without question. It will live on in my mind as a sort of unsatisfactory, double-exposed snapshot of the first half of the twentieth century, awash in all the ghosts of what might have been. 

Have you read LIFE AFTER LIFE? What did you think? Let's talk it out in the comments!


More soon...




Live Writer Walking

You may remember that I am a proponent of the treadmill desk as a way to stave off some of the posterior-widening that so often comes to those in my line of work. I acquired my machine in March of 2010, after a knee injury [torn meniscus] left me unable to run. I strapped a plastic surf-shelf to the digital display and began to write down the distances I walked each day with a goal in mind to virtually make it across Canada. When I finally got rid of the pesky meniscus, I started running again, but kept the walking going as a part of my working day.

By the end of 2013, as you can see here, I made it across Canada, mostly following the Trans-Canada highway.  So this year, while the walking continued, I had a conundrum...where to walk next? I always like a challenge, so -- first Canada, now ... the world?

But which route to take?

With one thing and another, I had a kind of poor year for recording my distances in 2014, but in the end I added 1888 km to my total [of which more than 1100 km were running -- it was a GREAT year for that, at least]. And now, even though roads are not always an option for travelling around the world, I've decided to follow the major land masses as best I can. I'm going to head [still virtually] north and east, along the coast of BC and up to Alaska to cross the Bering Strait into Russia.

Why not?

Google maps, which has been my friend throughout the whole of the virtual journey so far, is proving less than useful for this leg. My 2014 mileage has taken me along the coastline of BC, up through Prince Rupert and into Alaska, but I haven't found a way to measure this exactly just yet.

If you know a decent piece of mapping software for walkers, I'd love it if you could let me know!

I will continue my own research, and as always, keep you apprised. In the meantime, why not let me know what posterior-widening avoidance techniques you have embraced for 2015? I'd love to cheer you on!


More soon...




List vs Schedule...

The sun is shining, the birds are singing and we have a new year on hand. What to do, what to do?

Make lists, of course!

Lists get me through life. I have always had a terrible memory for stuff I'm supposed to get done, and I have boxes full of used notebooks full of life's minutiae from years past. Today's new notebook came to me from lovely chair Camille Netherton and the rest of the SiWC board, and I look forward to filling it up in style. 

But this year, I am going to try something different. In the spirit of the success that writer Kathy Chung [and others!] have had with The Famous Yahtzee Method, I'm going to go a step further this year. Making a list is just step one. SCHEDULING the items on the list -- now THAT is the challenge! This is my task today -- to sort out a reasonable schedule within which to fit at least some of the items on my various lists.

Not sure how it's going to work out. I'll report back for sure. If you want to join me in this endeavour -- please do! I'd like to hear how you get organized for a new year -- list, schedule... or something else? Feel free to share in the comments! And however you do it -- welcome to 2015. It's been the best day of the year so far, wouldn't you say?

More soon...




Happy 2015!

This has been a crazy fall, and will likely prove to be an even busier winter [though I expect you'll be seeing a bit more of me soon]!

But for now, from my house to yours...


Happy New Year!

See you in 2015.


More soon...




Remembering Sacrifice

Once again this year, we don't have to remember too far back, as Canadians are once again serving overseas. My grampa served in the First World War, and one hundred years on, Canadians continue to sacrifice their lives to the machinations of governments around the world.


Who do you remember?