CBC Calgary Reads Big Book Sale

I’m pretty pumped about finding eleven solid ‘reads’ at the CBC Big Book Sale.  For going on four weeks, I’ve been down for the count with some hack and honk virus and reading is right up my alley right now.  I’ve been avoiding gatherings and sticking to time on my own as much as possible.  There’s nothing wrong with that sometimes.  Anyway, here are my treasures, a mere $4.00 a piece.

First, I picked up the first book of Ken Follett’s Century trilogy.  It’s been a long time since I read Follett, having thoroughly enjoyed his first Trilogy.  I’ve heard good things about this one also, so looking forward to propping this big baby up in bed very soon!



E. Annie Proulx is one of my favourite writers and I spotted one that I haven’t read, That Old Ace in the Hole.  I’d have to agree with this; Prize–winner Proulx imparts this information with such minute accuracy that it’s like seeing a painting up close and magnified, with each tiny brush stroke lovingly emphasized. One grows quite fond of the characters so beset by nature, fate and bizarre accidents, especially old Ace Crouch, a lifelong repairer of windmills, who represents the joke that the title promises.



Complicated, Iris Murdoch became of interest to me when I saw the movie, Iris.  The fact that she suffered Alzheimer’s disease made her story so special.  Words meant everything to Iris, in her life.  Her husband, John Bayley, also a writer, was dedicated to Iris Murdoch in the most amazing way.  When I remember his part in her life, I think of my father.  I found The Green Knight at the Big Book Sale.



I absolutely treasure Timothy Findley’s writing and consider them some of my favourites!  If you haven’t read Findley, please do!  I was happy to find hidden amid all of the more popular things in the ‘General’ section,  a novella, You Went Away.  Excited for this.  Timothy Findley’s female characters are forever-compelling.



I’ve met Karsten on at least two or three occasions and heard him speak twice.  He wrote and filmed Being Caribou, a book and documentary that inspired me and my growth as a human being.  I heard him speak of this Walking the Big Wild, but had never picked it up.  Whoot!  Another great and hidden gem!

Walking the Big Wild is the story of Karsten Heuer’s extraordinary 18-month journey of hiking, sking, and paddling across 2100 miles of mountains, forests, and rivers from Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming to the Canadian Yukon. Accompanied by occasional human companions and a remarkable border collie named Webster, Heuer encountered immense challenges: storms, avalanches, floods, and grizzlies. At the end of the journey, Heuer proved that there is nearly continuous wilderness that can support wildlife along the length of the Rockies-and is salvageable if the right decisions are made now.


I picked this one up out of interest in the topic and the geographies of the north…quite intrigued by this one as its format includes both poetry and prose, a sincere concern for the ice.  Looking forward to reading Enduring Dreams: An Exploration of Arctic Landscape by John Moss.


As I gazed upon the options in the Visual Arts and Photography section, I felt as though I was looking at my own collection at times.  This one, Female Gazes, stood out because it is beautifully illustrated with concise autobiographic material on each of 75 female artists.  Fun!


If you’ve read any Nick Bantock books, you would know that Barbara Hodgson, another Vancouver writer, has a similar approach of writing mythologies along side amazing collage and visual images.  I don’t have this little treasure, and given my travels with daughter Erin, back packing from Palermo, Sicily all the way up to Venice, Italy, this will be a gem!

With its genius for art and culture, there is no country in the world as wonderfully civilized (and civilizing) as Italy. But seething below this surface is a long and shadowy history of corruption, cruelty, and the generally bizarre. For centuries it has been overrun by waves of invaders, all contributing their own questionable bits of culture, and all wantonly adding to the confusion. So, how is a poor visitor supposed to make sense of this anarchic place? Co-creator of the cult favorite Paris Out of Hand, Barbara Hodgson has neatly brushed away the chaos and assembled an eclectic treasury of forgotten and overlooked oddities: long-lost popes, bloodthirsty mercenaries, tempestuous artists, and inexplicable follies. Italy Out of Hand is not a traditional guidebook, with hotel addresses and hours of operation. Rather, it is an idiosyncratic tour of a country that is too overwhelming and extravagant for most of us to comprehend without a little guidance. Illustrated with an equally eclectic selection of photographs, portraits, and art, Italy Out of Hand is the perfect companion for those who like their truths to be stranger than fiction.


If you listen to CBC radio at all, you will be familiar with Thomas King.  I enjoyed several seasons of his Dead Dog Cafe series.  He is a consummate story teller!  I was so happy to find this little treasure.  Tom King has a way of using tongue-in-cheek humour to get to the heart of painful histories.


I’m not familiar with this author, but the topic was of interest to me.  I was thinking of artist, Bev Tosh’s series of War Brides.  An historical fiction, I think this will be appealing to me.


I did really well finding these books at the sale.  I hope my Calgary readers have a chance to get out to make their own selections over this weekend.  Happy reading!

David Hockney on Lucian Freud and Scale: CBC Interview Captured While Driving

Another wonderful interview on CBC radio today, David Hockney speaking of his relationship and his experience of being subject for Lucian Freud, as well as interesting views on art, life and most interesting to me today, the concept of scale and painting to scale.

David Hockney Interview

For years, Lucian Freud has been one of my top three portrait artists, the others being Alice Neel and Attila Richard Lukacs. There is something stunning about the rich combination of colours used within the flesh tones and the soulful ‘presence’ of these artists’ figurative works.

While I only caught the final twenty minutes of the interview, I’m attempting to post the entire interview from CBC with Eleanor Wachtel here, so that we might enjoy listening to it, sort of, together.

Freud’s nude subjects may be repulsive, surprising or uncomfortable for some, but one only needs work at figure drawing consistently for four years in life drawing classes to understand the nature of that activity and to be wowwed by such results as these.

I’m including a wee bit of background here.

This Week in the Garden

I count the days of summer by what is blooming in the garden.  The lupines and peonies are dwindling now, but the lilies are just beginning.  Awesome…the changing of textures and colour!  I sat in the van one afternoon in the winter…I was making a stop for groceries, but couldn’t be interrupted while listening to one of the segments of The Power Of Colour on CBC Radio.

Power of Colour 1
Power of Colour 2
Power of Colour 3

The Oriental Poppies burst open with the heat of the weekend! Glorious!

Leslie’s Lilies…for yet another season!


Petal Detail

Ready to Burst


I Was On My Way to Walk Max and Heard This


I remember macaroni,
the end of the month,
the last week
when there was so little.

I made up
a song for the children.

The Macaroni Song!

Around the table
we would go,
laughing and singing.

Macaroni, Macaroni!

I can’t make the song
work now on the page,
just remember, we
laughed so hard.

My wife stood
over the grey metal
where the macaroni boiled.

She never sang the song.

It was always six o’clock.

The children would cry:

Sing the Macaroni Song!

And I would sing.

One night
I stole three tomatoes
from Mister Sagetti’s garden
and dropped them
into the curl of water.

My wife.
She loved me.
We worked so hard
to make a life.

Three tomatoes.
I still dream of them.
We were, what you
would call now, poor.

But when we danced
around the table,
my sons and my one
daughter in my hands
and sang the macaroni
song, God, in that moment,
we were happy.

And my wife at the grey stove
spooned the pale bare curls
onto each plate
and that one night
the thin threads
of three tomatoes.

I still dream of them.

Mister Sagetti, dead,
wherever you are
I want to say
this poem is for you.
I’m sorry I stole
your tomatoes.
I was poor and I
wanted, for my children,
a little more.

Some mornings when I sit in church, for awhile, I pray that I will just have ‘enough’.  As I gaze at the evening news, I know that I have so much ‘more’.  Anyway, I just always want to be a soft place where my adult children can fall…I always want to have ‘enough’ so that I can bless their lives with what they need…not necessarily what they want…the cars, the money, the tuition…I hope that I can give them what they need.

I treasured the poem that Patrick Lane shared on a CBC program while I was driving to yet another off leash park with Max.  I had to sit in the van upon arrival because for one, I required the artistic inspiration, but also, I needed to hear Lane’s own admission through the poem The Macaroni Song.

It’s Father’s Day and I remember that it was not always easy for my parents.  Month to month, they also found the pantry was drained and meals had to be simple.  I responded emotionally as I heard the poem read over CBC radio.  I feel the poem at a very deep place.

CBC Program With Patrick Lane

Listen. Our Objects Speak.

My Grandfather’s Wool Carding Equipment

This morning, Max and I went to one of our favourite off-leash areas in the city… a beautiful ridge area… a long stretch above the  Bow River irrigation canal.  The wind was literally howling today, especially during a walk on such an exposed piece of land.  The tall dry grass was flattened, reaching east and pushing again and again while the wind shouted.  One of the most amusing events was the hovering presence of a immature Bald Eagle for the entire walk.  Most of the time, he/she was directly above me and finally broke downward and captured a field mouse.  From there, a brave raven made a huge effort to intercept the catch.  The two birds flew in tandem, diving and circling and soaring; one defending its prey; the other, not easily discouraged, attempting to steal it.  I was in awe.

Snowflake  Pattern: Cowichan Sweater

When, finally, we returned to the van, I turned to CBC radio.  I enjoy listening to IDEAS in the afternoon and The Next Chapter with Shelagh Rogers.  In the context of the sorts of things I’ve been thinking about lately, the interview with Sylvia Olsen was so relevant.  What she says about history being linked to civilizing/fusing of cultures is very interesting.  There was a progression from the Salish design being used in weaving to the eventual introduction of needles by Scottish men as a way of civilizing indigenous women.  The Cowichan sweater became a remarkable archive…in fact, as Olsen would say, the sweaters became the stories.  I think that there is an obvious link between the hard work of a people, attention to an aesthetic and careful consideration about function.  The concept of history/story being contained in our objects is evident.  I need to read her book, Working With Wool .  I find that this connects me with my own paternal grandfather’s connection with wool.

The Mule