Yes or No


September 15 marks the 20th anniversary of my move from Scotland to Canada. Three days after that one of the most important events in recent Scottish history takes place and, because of my choice of two decades ago, I won’t be able to be a part of it. Of course, I’m talking about the independence referendum taking place on September 18. Although I would like to have been able to vote in something like this, I realise that having left so long ago I really counted myself out of the vote.

Growing up in Orkney, the thought of an independent Scotland was almost a pipe dream. Nationalists were seen as dreamers at best, or a little disturbed at worst. But that was in the 1970’s! I was back in Scotland recently for the first time in five years and I was surprised to see how much momentum has grown in the independence movement. It’s really hard to predict which way the vote will go, which wouldn’t have been the case on my last visit, never mind when I left in 1994.

I have my own views on the question of Scottish independence, but they are mixed. My heart says one thing and my head says another. I have a number of family members and friends who are on opposite sides of the issue. I hope that once the vote is over and the dust has settled that the family ties and friendships are still intact. Such issues can be very divisive and can lead to splits that take a long time to be repaired, if ever fully.

With the news over here picking up more of the coverage of the referendum, people have started asking me more regularly what my own views are. I usually say that it could be a good or bad thing, but that I am so far removed now that I have lost touch a bit with what the real Scottish picture is now. It is honestly hard for me to come down on one side as opposed to the other, but then I don’t really have to.

When the votes are counted and the result is in I will still be a Canadian, but will I still be also a British citizen? Or will I have to apply for Scottish citizenship, if I am even still deemed eligible? One thing that is sure – the next couple of weeks are going to be very interesting and I look forward to watching on from afar.

Books About Town

Peter Pan - J.M. Barrie

Peter Pan – J.M. Barrie

During our recent trip we spent a few days visiting family in Kent, so we took the opportunity to go up to London a couple of times. Before leaving here we had heard about Books About Town, which is a book-related event happening all over London this summer. This is a series of 50 sculpted benches in the shapes of famous and popular books, decorated by famous and local artists, placed around the city for the public to enjoy. At the end of summer 2014, all the benches will be auctioned at an exclusive event in the Southbank Centre to raise funds for the National Literacy Trust’s vital work to raise literacy levels in the UK.

We decided we would try and see as many of them as we could in the limited time that we had. In the end we saw 9 of them. It would have been 10, but one of them was away for repairs. If we’d had more time I would have really liked to have seen the Sherlock Holmes, C.S. Lewis, and Douglas Adams benches, but we were happy to have been able to see the ones that we managed to see.

If you want to see more of them, check out my Flickr album.

Back again…

For a number of reasons, it has been almost two months since I posted something here. There has been a combination of things that have kept me from this, including, but not limited to, the fact that we recently spent almost a month out of the country. Also, I just didn’t seem to have the appetite or desire to sit down and put something together.

For part of July and August we were on an extended trip to Scotland and England, visiting family and friends, during which time I had the privilege and joy of performing the wedding ceremony for my niece/God-daughter, Ola (then Smith, now Thompson). The time away was much needed, although it has been hard getting fully back into the swing of things since our return. Most of my regular work was sitting waiting on my desk when I got back just over two weeks ago, but I think that I have taken care of most of it now and am getting slowly back to normal again, whatever that is!

At some point I’d like to share some thoughts and moments from our trip and I also have a ton of pictures to upload to my Flickr account. Although, I didn’t update my one-photo-a-day blog – 365-2014 (wcs53) – regularly whilst I was away, I did update it with a photo from each day of our holiday when I got back. Although I’m managing to keep up with this, I have let my Project 52-2014 at Flickr slide a bit, but am hoping to get this caught up in the not too distant future.

I wasn’t able to read too much whilst on holiday, but have managed to get  few books read in the short time I have been back. I have a few reviews to write and will start working on those very soon. Both our children will be back in school next week, which should help me get back to a more regular blogging schedule, including some of the memes that I normally post.

I hope that everyone has been having a great summer and I look forward to sharing and connecting with many of you soon.

25 Years of Seinfeld

seinfeldApparently today is the 25th anniversary of the first time that Seinfeld appeared on TV. I’m a big fan of Seinfeld and have all nine seasons on DVD. Ironically I never started watching it until we moved to Saskatchewan in July 1998, which was almost two months after the final show aired. We only had two channels and it aired every night at 10pm on one of these channels. I started watching it out of curiosity and it wasn’t long before I was hooked!

Lots of catchphrases from the show have crept into everyday use and I’m sometimes surprised by how many of them I hear on a fairly regular basis. “No soup for you!” is probably the one that is heard most often. One that I tend to use a lot is “It’s a Festivus miracle!”

It would be difficult for me to name a favourite episode as there are too many good ones to choose from. Apart from the four main characters, my favourite character would have to be Frank Costanza (played by Jerry Stiller). I love his eccentricity and the fact that he invented Festivus.

I won’t try and choose a favourite episode, but instead here are five of my favourite moments. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do:

Book Beginnings and Friday 56 – The Late Starters Orchestra (July 4)

This week for my Friday meme combo I have chosen The Late Starters Orchestra by Ari L. Goldman. I just received this book in the mail today from LibraryThing Early Reviewers and it looks like one I’ll enjoy. GoodReads has the following description:

late starters orchestraIf you thought a fiddler on a roof was in a precarious position, imagine what happens when a middle-aged professor with a bad back takes up the cello. Ari Goldman hasn’t played in twenty-five years, but he’s decided to give the cello one last chance. He s not that good. But never mind. First he secures a seat in his eleven-year-old son’s youth orchestra, and then he s ready for the big time: the Late Starters Orchestra of New York City a bona fide amateur chamber orchestra for beginning or recently returning adult players.We accompany Goldman to LSO rehearsals (their motto is If you think you can play, you can ) and sit in on his son’s Suzuki lessons (where we find out that children do indeed learn differently from adults). As Goldman meditates on the mysteries of the cello itself, we wonder with him if he’ll be good enough to perform at his next birthday party. Coming to the rescue is the ghost of Goldman’s very first cello teacher, Mr. J, who continues to inspire and guide him about music and more through this enchanting midlife journey.The Late Starters Orchestra reminds us that with a band of friends behind us, anything is possible.

Now for this week’s excerpts:

book beginningsBook Beginnings is hosted by Gilion at Rose City Reader, who invites anyone to join in, saying: ‘Please join me every Friday to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires.  Please remember to include the title of the book and the author. Leave a link to your post.  If you don’t have a blog, but want to participate, please leave a comment with your Book Beginning.’

The beginning of The Late Starters Orchestra:

Standing in a crowded elevator in midtown Manhattan with a cello strapped to your back is no way to win a popularity contest.

It’s not something I’ve ever tried, although I have been in possession of a tuba in some unusual places, which has not always been fun! This is an interesting beginning and I’m intrigued enough to go on.

Friday 56The Friday 56 is a book meme hosted by Freda’s Voice and the rules are as follows:

*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56.
*Find any sentence, (or few, just don’t spoil it) that grabs you.
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post below in Linky. Add the post url, not your blog url.

It’s that simple.

From page 56 of The Late Starters Orchestra:

The one bright spot in my young life was music. I sang. I sang on the streets and I sang in school and I sang on the subway and I sang in bed and I sang in the synagogue.

I can really identify with this in that I’ve always been around music. At the age of 7 a brass instrument was placed in my hands and I was told to learn it. For most of the time ever since, I’ve been playing some kind of brass instrument in various different bands. I still enjoy it and currently play tuba in a local concert band called Toot Suite. Anyway, I think I’ll take this book on holiday with me and write a review when I get back. I think it’ll be a good read.

Thursday Quotables – Soccer in Sun and Shadow (July 3)

quotation-marks4Thursday quotables is hosted by Lisa at Bookshelf Fantasies. To take part Lisa shares the following:

If you’d like to participate, it’s really simple:

  • Write a Thursday Quotables post on your blog. Try to pick something from whatever you’re reading now. And please be sure to include a link back to Bookshelf Fantasies in your post (, if you’d be so kind!
  • Comment on this post with the link to your own Thursday Quotables post. Or… have a quote to share but not a blog post? Leave your quote in the comments!
  • Have fun!

Today was another day without World Cup action, although I caught the end of the Buckie Thistle vs Rangers game. I also got back to reading Eduardo Galeano’s Soccer in Sun and Shadow, which I started earlier in the year. It’s a great read and if I don’t get it finished now I’ll probably take it away on holiday with me. Here are a few of my favourite quotes so far:

soccer in sun and shadowSometimes the idol does not fall all at once. And sometimes when he breaks, people devour the pieces. (p.6)

The linesmen, who assist but do not rule, look on from the side. Only the referee steps onto the playing field, and he is certainly right to cross himself when he first appears before the roaring crowd. His job is to make himself hated. The only universal sentiment in soccer: everybody hates him. He gets only catcalls, never applause. (p.10)

How is soccer like God? Each inspires devotion among believers and distrust among intellectuals. (p.36)

In 1930 Albert Camus was Saint Peter guarding the gate for the University of Algiers soccer team. He had been playing goalkeeper since childhood, because in that position your shoes don’t wear out as fast. Son of a poor home, Camus could not afford the luxury of running the fields; every night, his grandmother examined the soles of his shoes and gave him a beating if she found them worn. (p.66)

I’ve really enjoyed what I’ve read of this book so far and am looking forward to getting the rest of it read soon.

A day with no World Cup!

There were no games at the FIFA World Cup today, but at least I got to see most of the TFC game tonight, which turned out to be a hard fought draw following a very questionable first-half sending off. Because there were no games in Brazil today, I thought I’d share one of my favourite football quotes with you, from the late great Bill Shankly:

bill shankly