So it's been a long week. After my last post, my daughter got the flu that my husband had and was sick for 3 days. Yesterday my son got stitches in his stomach. He takes after his dad. Thinks he's invincible and has Superman skills. So when you see my grey hair, don't judge. Just know that I have children who add years (and years) to my life and life to my years.
I've been so behind in school so I've been scrambling to catch up before things get totally out of hand. I've been writing assignments about popular culture, reading theories on communication and studying poetry. Here's a verse from Archibald Lampman's Heat that I enjoyed.
Beyond me in the fields the sun
Soaks in the grass and hath his will;
I count the marguerites one by one;
Even the buttercups are still.
On the brook yonder not a breath
Disturbs the spider or the midge.
The water-bugs draw close beneath
The cool gloom of the bridge.
I love how this poem seems to portray laziness and peacefulness in the heat of the day, but it is actually full of action and movement. Read the rest of the poem
if you're interested. It's a great read.
So I finally finished Who Has Seen the Wind. It was an excellent story, but it did take me a while to read with all the commitments in my life. Soooo, again, I'm a couple of weeks behind. (Grrr!) Anyway, I'm now on to Where Nests the Water Hen by Gabrielle Roy. This is a French-Canadian book, originally titled La Petite Poule D'Eau, that was translated into English. This book is set in Northern Manitoba and is about the frontier life and follows pioneers in their obscure lives. Gabrielle Roy is known for her compassionate writing. The back of the book says that this story is "as pure as the lives of the people in it". So far it's very intriguing and I'm looking forward to finishing the rest. Thankfully, it's short!
So, I was supposed to read 4 books this month for English, but it hasn't gone as planned. I'm a little behind, but I'm hoping to catch up this weekend. Book 3, which I'm on to this week, is Who Has Seen the Wind by W. O Mitchell.
It's a coming-of-age story about a boy who lives in small-town Saskatchewan in the Depression era. His life takes a turn when his parents leave temporarily and he has to live with his Uncle on the farm. This story is a comedy as well as a drama. (So, a dramedy? By the way, that is an actual term, at least in television.) The conversations between the boys in this book are hilarious. If you haven't read this book, you should. Mitchell is, was, a huge Canadian writer. Apparently, this book also was made into a film in 1977.
If you have time, take a gander. It's good to know our fellow Canadian writers.
This week I'm on to As For Me and My House by Sinclair Ross. If you haven't read this Canadian book, you should. It's fantastic! In it's initial run, this book majorly flopped and only sold a couple hundred copies. It wasn't until later that it gained recognition for its contribution to Canadian literature.
As For Me and My House is a story about a preacher and his wife and their life in small, rural town Horizon. It's about relationships that bond people together and about emotions and feelings that can ruin them. It's written in a journal-type form instead of chapters, but it's fluid and engaging. I'm addicted to these characters already and want to know what happens to them and what makes them tick the way they do. If you're looking for a literary book to read, this is it!
This past week my commitments have gotten the better of me, which means I haven't posted as I should have. Sometimes those monkeys just need to be fed. I can only starve them so much...Regardless, here I am and much has happened.
First, Wacousta. Oh, dear, agonizing Wacousta. I finally, FINALLY finished reading it after forcing myself to sit down and turn the pages. (I'm only about 2 weeks behind because of this story. No biggie.) The book is full of metaphors and is a wonderful story, but my gosh, that 1800-style writing is hard to read. Pages and pages of description. Words I had to search for in the dictionary. A narrative POV that means the writer inserts his opinions into the story, which is so annoying! But I got it done and it's more than just a story about the frontier experience between Natives and White Man. It's about the battle and choice between good and evil in man of any race. It's about order and disorder, wilderness and civilization. It's quite the story and if you can stand old writing, take a gander. It's enlightening.
Second, Fifty Shades of Grey. Again. I wrote a paper on Fifty about it's presence in popular culture. It was also agonizing.
Last, I'm on to Tay John by Howard O'Hagan. This is a folktale-style story about a "half-breed" man (half Native, half White) and his journey in life. Mostly, it's about order and disorder in society, where a man fits in society, and again, the frontier experience. It's a fascinating read with its folktale, legend-style of writing and is easy to get caught up in.
Anyway, this is what I've been up to this past week, besides the usual business stuff, kid stuff and writing stuff. This week proves to be just as busy with Arts Festival, company, Valentine's day on top of the usual. Thanks for reading.
I'm spending my days reading about Aristotle's theories of rhetoric. So this sounds like an incredibly boring subject, but to me it's fabulous! Aristotle was one smart dude, and he's my hero for today. (He's also the man who said "Mothers are more fond of their children because they are more certain they are their own." A comedian and a smart man. Total package right there!) There is much that writers can learn from Aristotle.
For those who don't know what rhetoric is, it is the art of public speaking. Aristotle makes a link between friends and friendships and rhetoric that says that the audience will be more open to a message if the speaker appears friendly by word and deed. There's a whole explanation to this, but in reading about this link, I got stuck on a quote that was a moment of reflection for me. It goes like this:
"A friend is one who loves and is loved in return."
Aristotle also says that a friend takes pleasure when good things happen to the other and feels upset when the other goes through hard times. I wondered if I was this kind of person. Do I get jealous instead of happy for a friend's good fortune? Do I laugh instead of mourn for a friend's misfortune? It was a sobering moment because I know there have been times when, by this definition, I haven't been a friend. However, I am so thankful for friends in my life that love me in return and are better friends than I am. I don't deserve you, my lovelies, but I thank you. And I love you.
The question of the day: What kind of friend are you?
PS Who knew Communications 301: Communication Theory and Analysis could be so personally revealing?!
PPS (or is it PSS) I'm sorry for the sap. It's a genetic trait that I just can't rid myself of. You can thank my sweet Daddy for it.
Okay, remember how I said I would be reading Wacousta by John Richardson? Well, I'm reading it. And it's killing me. The book was written way back in the day and has long words and sentences that are, well, annoying to read. It's difficult to concentrate and I just can't get into it. I'm sure it's like reading Great Expectations where its mind-numbing to understand, but the story is actually really interesting.
I really, really, really hope that's the case.
I have figured out that it's about experiences on the early Canadian frontier, so that is something to look forward to, although in the same breath, I'm not sure I'm that excited about that either... I have two weeks to read it. Let's hope it doesn't take me six!
My new English courses have started today, so first up on the reading list is Wacousta by John Richardson. I have absolutely no idea what this book is about, but it's Canadian literature, so I'm excited to read it. Again, I'm a writer with no idea about Canadian literature or any of the classics out there, so I'm happy to start reading more. I'll fill you in on how it goes!
In case you haven't been able to tell by my many days of non-writing, cracks have been starting to show for a fair few days now. I will admit that this challenge is causing me to buckle under the pressure. My husband (and my sister, and pretty much everyone I know) tells me I need to let up on myself, but I actually don't know how to do that. My mom says it's because I'm a perfectionist and I have a need to control everything. She may be right on several accounts, but it still doesn't solve my problem.
I don't believe in giving up on my dreams just because I'm a mom, and I don't believe it's fair for anyone to ask me to do that either, but is it necessary to ask that of myself, or at least to let off a little, to save myself from myself? (Whoa, are you still with me?) Maybe, because today I went just a little crazy from the pressure.
I got up early to get my son on the bus and spent the next two hours feeding and dressing kids, doing the laundry and putting about a week's worth of clothes away, doing the dishes etc, doing paperwork, cleaning the bathroom and saving my kids from destroying each other. I got about an hour's worth of school work in before it was time to cook lunch, prep my daughter for school, run some errands, and drop her off at school. Then I raced home and got another hour, hour and a half tops, of schoolwork done before racing back to school to get her. Then I rushed back home to catch my son's bus, cook supper, eat, dress everybody and raced back to town for piano lessons. I had 30 minutes between 6 and 6:30 to get some money for the piano teacher and actually talk to my other two kids before I raced back home to drop them off and then back into town for a Preschool board meeting. I then took about 10 minutes afterwards to do some Christmas shopping before racing back home to make lunches, pack bags, check schedules, emails, and attempt school work. (Okay, that's a lot of "racing", but that's honestly what it's like!) By that time, it was 9:30 and I was crying because I didn't get to write today and I really, really, really didn't want to clean the bathroom again *gulp, sob, gulp, sob*. I may have also yelled at my husband because he wasn't home to take the other kids for piano. Oops!
Now, to be clear, this does not happen every day. Once a month, Thursdays are crazy like this, but not every day is insane. Still, something happens usually every day that throws everything off track, and as of late, diminishes or eliminates my writing time. I'm not willing to sacrifice all of my relaxation time because without it I will be crazier than I am already, but should I be giving up something else? How much can a person really give when they're stretched so thin?
Since the kids or my husband are just not on the table of sacrifice, it comes down to the school or the writing. But I just don't know if I can. It might break my heart in half to give up on either of these dreams.
What do you think? (Or do I want to know?!)
School has started. The first day was overwhelming as I made three trips to town to watch two of my babies' start. It all went well and everyone had so much fun, however, school is only two days of the week, which means that for the other three, I still have all three kids at home all day. Those days are very long.
To stave off some of the boredom and craziness, I put the oldest kids in programs and yesterday we started the first one at the library. It went well and they loved it, but as soon as we hit the store after for groceries the fighting started again. I decided I would get each of them a cheap new toy that would keep them occupied for the afternoon. And it worked, but a little too well.
My oldest decided on a hunting nerf gun, which he proceeded to entertain himself with by shooting darts at me, at his siblings, at the wall, at the ceiling, which I then had to get down, or at the trim carpenter working in our house. I think, no I'm certain, I shouted at him.
"Seriously? How am I supposed to concentrate on school work and the photography prop I'm making if you keep shooting me and everyone else with those stupid darts?! Give me that stupid gun!"
"Moooommmm, you said a bad word. TWO times."
"Oh, go away."
My middle one picked out Barbie make-up, which I thought was fake. It turns out it was real. She had lipstick all over her face (we're talking from cheek to cheek like Joker make-up), shirt and floor. Even after being scrubbed roughly last night, her cheeks are still pink. Needless to say, I hid the make-up...which prompted her to discover the black paint I was using for a photography prop. She had little fingerprints of paint on my very expensive WHITE cabinets and on the white pantry door, which I just paid a lot of money to have sprayed and which took a really long time to do and was part of why we were living in the garage. I turned my back for a minute, and there was paint everywhere. (And I swear to you, it was in the middle of the island, which I can barely even reach, and nowhere near her level) Are you kidding me? Thankfully, I got the paint off the cabinets, but not the door.
We won't discuss what I shouted that time, but if you're really curious, ask the trim guy. He'll tell you. I'm pretty sure there was a smirk beneath his pretense of not noticing.
The youngest was the best behaved. He picked out a lego truck and played quietly by himself with it after his nap. How is it that my two-year-old is is less mischievious than my four-year-old?
And if all that wasn't enough, they fought with each other over silly things like whose book was whose, or who sat on the chair first, and then bothered the trim carpenter, incessantly asking him questions about what he was doing. Thankfully, he has 6 kids so he wasn't too annoyed. Apparently though, the phrase "Go and play" is like Chinese Mandarin to them. They just don't get it.
I think I'm in for a loooong winter. But then again, when has a winter in East Central Alberta ever been short?