Archive for May, 2012

This was a re-read. I had not read this book in over 20 years, and I enjoyed it more this time than ever before. Much of the setting is Leaside, where both Atwood and I attended Leaside High School (she was 2 years behind me.) In the book, the school is called “Burnham High.” The main character, Elaine, is an artist, thinking back over her life at ‘mid-life,’ and remembering much of the past and her relationships with family, friends, and men.
In this book Atwood recounts the dreadful treatment (in childhood) of Elaine by her so-called friends, especially Cordelia. Probably the best-ever depiction in fiction of how girls can gang up on other girls. Much of this book really resonated with me, both the above-mentioned content, and Elaine’s progress into adulthood. I especially enjoyed the ‘back and forth’ between the life of the adult Elaine, and the remembered childhood/young womanhood of Elaine.

This is a really amazing book, and kudos to Atwood for nailing the experience of girlhood/school/Toronto. This was definitely worth a re-read. Now I am off to read the sequel to Wolf Hall– Hilary Mantel’s Bring Up the Bodies.

(More Tudor shenanigans  – Anne Boleyn is going to die – really!)

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I am currently obsessed with birds. I am watching the Decorah eagles for the second spring, and I need to check on them several times a day. I’m going to miss the eaglets when they fledge (about a month from now.) I have lots of company: there are thousands of people worldwide who are watching this birds’ nest. (The “online viewer count” appears under the live feed at all times.) One night I sat and made a list of all the countries represented on the online map, which shows the country location of all the computers that are tuned into the website. There were 22 countries represented during my 30-minute count! The computers were as far-flung as Singapore, Australia, and New Zealand. Lots of European computers were tuned in, and of course so many locations in North America that they were grouped in huge clumps. The Raptor Resource Project (RRP) decided last year to put a camera on the eagles’ nest in Decorah, Iowa–80 feet  up in a cottonwood tree.The RRP had no idea of the size of the audience they would attract. The bonus with this website is that there is a chat room and there is a social stream, so that bird lovers all over the world may talk to each other about the eagles.

But the Decorah eagles are not the only birds in my life. I live in a sixth-floor apartment with a view into a beautiful wooded valley in the heart of the big city. I have my eye on the woods every day. I’ve seen the usual suspects every day: robins, mostly. But on one stellar day last week, I was lucky enough to see  the peregrine falcon who lives and nests in the valley below our windows. I knew the falcons were out there because other people had seen them. When I finally saw my falcon, he was unmistakable: a big bird with a huge wingspread, massive compared to robins and sparrows. It was a fleeting but exciting moment.

Tonight I discovered and downloaded an app to my iPhone. It is Peterson’s Birds of North America, and when it loads on the iPhone, it looks exactly like the book, with the bonus that the app also has sound. Yes! You can hear the call of any bird that you are clicked on. This is what any bird watcher (and especially novices like me) has dreamed of: the guide to the birds that’s so portable that it fits in your shirt pocket, weighs next to nothing, and has sound. What more could you ask for? I love it!


(fixed the link)

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