Thursday, February 23, 2017

Unearthed, A Memoir


Unearthed, A Memoir: Love, Acceptance and Other Lessons from an Abandoned Garden by Alexandra Risen

On my way into town recently, listening to The Next Chapter on CBC Radio One, I listened to a book review and in the 10 minutes that it took to reach the library, I was convinced I needed to read it. Luckily for me, there it was sitting on the shelf and I checked it out a few minutes later. 

The review, by the way, was so excellent because the person giving it was Antanas Sileika, an author and Director of the Humber School for Writers. He knows whereof he speaks regarding both writing and landscaping, being himself the owner of a large property.

Listen here: The Next Chapter. It's approximately 10 min. long and see if you don't also feel compelled to read this book.

About 10 years ago Alexandra Risen and her husband Cam bought a property in downtown Toronto with a large backyard backing onto a ravine. This back garden is so large, so overgrown and so neglected that they can barely walk back there without a machete in hand. Slowly they discover the delights that await under the masses of foliage and although there are definite problems, the steepness of the pitch and the difficulty in disposing of dead trees, yard waste and other debris, finding the right people willing to do the work the way they want and so on, they eventually reclaim the space and turn it into something really special.

While in the process of uncovering and recovering the garden, Alexandra, the daughter of Ukrainian immigrants who arrived in western Canada around 1950 enters into a journey of discovery of her family. Her parents, particularly her dad, were deeply traumatized by the end of WWII, never really recovering to bring up two daughters in any kind of "normal" way. As the book opens, her dad has just passed away and Alexandra, resentful of the lack of fatherly warmth in her upbringing is working her way through understanding and making sense of it all. At the same time, her elderly mother's health is declining, resulting in difficult decisions for Alexandra and her older sister. 

The difficulties are many, but Alexandra is of strong Ukrainian stock and she rises to the challenges, taming her garden and coming to a better understanding her family. The entire book is a delight, from the attractive front cover to the detailed map of the garden to the self-deprecating stories the author tells about herself. I really enjoyed reading it. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Take a Literary Virtual Walk Through Paris

Courtesy of Read it Forward and Janet Somerville (@janetsomerville): an interactive map:

Visit here: Literary Map to encounter E.E. Cummings, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Morley Callaghan, Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein and others in their Paris haunts. Simply click on a white dot on one of the two maps to learn more about the writers at that location.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Anna Klinge's Amazing Feet

Anna Klinge is a creative and talented German hand and foot puppeteer. She has performed at Britain's Got Talent and has won some prizes for her work. She's fun to watch.

Unfortunately, in my opinion, this video has way too much of the judges' facial expressions and not enough of the act. In case, like me, you were disappointed when the shirt was lifted, here's what it looked like.

In case you'd like another little bit....

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Blind Date with a Book

My local library is on Facebook and Twitter. The other day I saw this: 

So yesterday, Valentine's Day, I headed to there to return some books and pick up a hold and found the special Valentine's promotion on a centrally-located shelf where there were some books wrapped in brown paper decorated with valentines etc. and a written hint as to what might be inside. What fun! Heh heh, what a novel idea ;)

I sorted through them and chose this one.'s not like I'm lacking a book to read - there are many on my TBR list. But sometimes it's fun to read something unplanned. I opened the paper and found this.

The blurb on the inside of the front cover invites us to ask ourselves, "what would you give up for a friend's happiness?" In this case, two female friends have their friendship tested by Ben, an old friend of one that falls for the other. 
Oh dear, this might be a chick lit novel (shudder!) I'll let you know. 

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Winter Bird

Another wonderful photo from the UK's Jack Perks. Check out this Some Favourite Things post from June 2015: Jack Perks.

Mr. Perks has a recently published book:

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

A Hit of Beauty

Rick Eggert is a US glass-blowing artist specializing in colourful organic shapes.

Medusa's Reach
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Marmalade Burst

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Soul Flower                                 As the Rip Curls

Eggert is the Creative Director at the Benzaiten Center for Creative Arts in Lake Worth, Florida. Check out more of his work here: and if you're in the Orlando area this winter consider a visit.