Saturday, August 20, 2011

Autumn Meanderings

My vacation time is now nearing a close, and I will be back to work next week. Autumn is nearing, with the familiar stillness, and sense of preparedness I often notice in the air. I often find I hear more calls of crows as fall grows closer, I wonder if they begin flocking nearby for fall migration as the days grow shorter. I have usually associated hearing more crows and geese as a sign of fall, not sure why.

Fall often feels like a time of pulling together, and preparing for school and routine - new books, pencils, new clothes - a sense of newness and anticipation.

Here in our household Paul, my son is engaged in preparations to intern as a high school science teacher - with a similar sense of excitement and hopefulness.

I look forward to returning to my work at the daycare center where I work, as our children who start kindergarten will be filled with excitement, and preparations for their start of school, and this is always fun to observe and be apart of. And with my own small 2 year old group - I will be greeting even younger ones "moving up" to my group, and I always enjoy helping them settle, and be comfortable. I find before long these little ones  have started developing their own set of rules, routines, and favourite activities. Each group, each year is a different group - and it is so interesting to me to watch this develop. It's a privilege to see young children grow, learn. and start on the path of who they are.

And of course there are the familiar themes and art associated with autumn (even though early childhood education has now changed so that most plans and programs are more open, and less structured - I still enjoy offering some of the more traditional fall art and activities, although in a more flexible, open way) - tasting apples; making apple pie; reading about harvest; scarecrows; gathering fall leaves and gluing them to paper; pressing leaves in wax paper; painting at the easel in glowing reds, oranges, and gold; shopping for the perfect pumpkin; making pumpkin pie; singing fall songs.. autumn offers so many wonderful opportunities  to experience beauty, awe, and celebration!

I'm enjoying reading several books at this time.

 The Forest Horses by Byrna Barclay, a local Regina author, is a wonderful novel. The story follows the main character as she explores her family's past and takes the reader back in time to wartime Russia, and the seige of Leningrad; and returns to modern day Russia, and Saskatchewan. It's a good read, and very well written. Bryna Barclay is an award winning author, who also was a recipient of the Saskatchewan Order of Merit in 2005. I'm so glad I've discovered her writing.

I'm enjoying a book on one of my favourite topics - crows. In the past I've read several good books on crows. Two of my favourites were Bird Brains, by Candace Savage, 1995; and Crows, Ravens, and Magpies by  Tony Angell, 1978. I've found another favourite book at the library - Crows and Ravens, by John Marzluff, and Tony Angell, 2005. Tony Angell is an artist and his books are graced with his wonderful illustrations of these fine birds.

I think I have a personal affinity with crows, for some reason - I believe I must have been amazed and in awe by their calls - I was a child who spent quite a lot of time outside, often on my own, thinking, pondering, and just scuffing my feet in our dusty back lane. I would actually just sit  against the fences in the backlane, daydreaming and observing - my parents had a difficult marriage, and this was my refuge. I think the call of the crow just resonated in my soul for some reason.

I do plan to write in celebration of crows here, once I've finished my "research", and brought my thoughts together in a more comprehensible way. :)

Lastly, I'm reading a Dale Carnegie book, How to Win Friends and Influence People. This is a an old, time tested classic - and I've never read it, but my son recommended it to me - and I'm loving it. Dale Carnegie writes in an easy to read way; is very humble himself and provides some easy to learn guidelines for getting along with people. I often noticed it on bookshelves, but thought of him as out of date. However his wisdom seems timeless, and I'm finding I can certainly use his advice today.

Hoping and wishing you will have a wonderful, leisurely weekend wherever you are!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Just Thinking...

Geraldine, at Take a Happy Break today, has a great post, regarding "to-do" lists, and ways we might motivate ourselves to accomplish the boring jobs we all have now and then. I've had my mind on this since reading her post this morning, and wonder sometimes if my method, is to avoid the boring jobs until they become unnecessary in some way, and I can just remove them from my list. I much prefer to do the fun things on my to do lists - find a book recommended to me; get together with someone I've not seen awhile for tea - two examples.

So, while on vacation, I was able to reconnect with several lovely people I don't see enough; and I've borrowed a few books from the library which I've been wanting to read; and I've been walking more. On my walks I've been making sure to stop and talk with people out in their gardens, and it's been so nice to get to know some of my neighbours, something I hadn't gotten around to since moving here last year. I do think most of us may find summertime a good time to reconnect with neighbours, as we're outside more.

Today, I was enjoying a cup of chammomile tea, at a coffee shop, and reading the newspaper, and found  an interesting quote which has some relevance to the "to-do lists" many people make. This was in the Globe and Mail, and was a "Thought for the Day" - a quote of William James (1842-1910) who was a psychologist and philosopher, and brother of the novelist Henry James. I think William might be considered one of the fathers of modern psychology.

Here is the quote:

"Everybody should do at least two things each day that he hates to do, just for practice."

I wonder what would be the reasoning behind this idea, although perhaps as a way of developing character, and also as a way of becoming strong and then more capable of meeting adversity? These days I think many people might not like this idea, our society seems pretty much interested in seeking pleasure and ease. But perhaps there are some good points to his suggestion.

What do you think?

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Why I love the books of Fannie Flagg

I have enjoyed reading the books of Fannie Flagg over the past several years. I first became interested in reading her books, after watching the movie Fried Green Tomatoes. This movie touched me deeply.  I loved the characters, as well as the story - and wanted to continue knowing them in some way.

I took about ten years to find the book Fried Green Tomatoes, but one day I did have the delightful good fortune to see a paperbook version on the shelf of may favourite used bookstore, The Reader's Corner.
Since then I've read most of Flagg's fiction, as the books became available at my local public library.

Her Elmwood Springs series is particularly lovely, and feature a cast of eccentric, but believable characters, who I just love. The book Standing in the Rainbow is set in the 1940's and 50's , featuring Neighbor Dorothy, a radio hostess, who produces a short, friendly program from her home. Dorothy develops a rapport with her radio audience, and provides household tips, music and friendly advice.

I Can't Wait to Get to Heaven  features Mrs. Elmer Shimfissle, an inspirational octogenarian, and her endearing family.

Welcome to the World Baby Girl, was written first in the series, although it has a contemporary setting, and brings together the various characters in the other two books.

What I love about these books are the warm, and sometimes quirky, but always believable characters - these are people I would like to know. I think the daytime radio programs of the 40's and 50's, such as  Neighbor Dorothy's, which provided rapport and community to housewives who were generally alone through the day, could possibly be seen as a precursor to some of our social media today.  Blogs provide wonderful human connections, as well as information and can truly enrich our daily lives.

Fannie Flagg has several more  highly enjoyable books, including a lovely Christmas story, A Redbird Christmas, which tells a story of love and resiliency. I enjoyed this story so well, that I chose to give it as gifts one Christmas.

Just when I was thinking that Fannie had stopped writing books, I found a review of her latest book, I Still Dream About You,  so I will be heading to my library next week to place this book on "hold".

I hope you might consider reading one or two of these books, as I believe you will come away touched by a loving, warm vision of a special kind of world.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

It's a wonderful August afternoon

My son, Paul has returned from his travels, and its good to have him home again. He'll be teaching high school science for the next semester, so we're already thinking of fall and back to school.

The weather here is just right for late summer, sunny and the temperature between 24 and 27 C.

I'm on vacation and have been walking lots, today I noticed the butterflies we have in abundance, seeming to be possibly white and yellow cabbage moths, and as well a few different butterflies. I think I may have seen one monarch butterfly.
The gardens in my neighbourhood are lovely with hollyhocks, sunflowers, lilies of all colours, larkspur, roses, and the annuals such as petunias, marigolds, zinnia - it is such a treat to walk.

Presently I'm using Paul's computer, so not able to post photos yet, but should be able to soon, I hope. I've been watching a pair of mourning doves, and their two babies - and have tried to take some photos of these. The fledglings are fun to watch, they seem a bit hesitant about going out into the world.

I've just had a nice hour or so reading up on some blogs, and will hopefully catch up more tomorrow.

I hope you may be enjoying the pleasures of summer where you are.