Milestones don’t mean anything. A marker noting the 12th mile down a road is no more significant than the marker for the 17th mile. Unless of course you are the one walking down the road.

This past week I saw two milestones. The first has to do with running. I passed my previous highest total number of running minutes for a year. Which makes it the most I’ve run in over 10 years. And we are still in October!

This morning I also finished reading my 75th book of 2012, thus meeting the 75 Books Challenge of the group I participate in over on LibraryThing. So far it has been a good year for reading, and I’m glad I filled out the set with Alice Munro’s latest collection of stories. But I’m more pleased with the fact that I have written a short review for every one of the books I’ve read this year. That has been a lot of fun and it is something I intend to continue with in the future.

The other thing about milestones, when you see them along a road you are walking down, is that you just keep on walking.

Wild Writers in Waterloo

On November 2nd and 3rd, Waterloo will cut loose with the Wild Writers Literary Festival. Presented by The New Quarterly, in association with Words Worth Books, hosted at the Balsillie School of International Affairs, with loads of worthy local sponsors, the WWLF consists of a number of talks, workshops, panels, and performances. It’s a mixture of paid and free events, and with three parallel sessions throughout the day on the 3rd, there ought to be something for anyone interested in reading and writing.

There are so many excellent writers participating that it would be hard to pick even one or two I am most keen on hearing, but perhaps Michael Crummey, Alexander MacLeod and Andrew Hood stand out, unless they were pipped at the post by Elizabeth Hay, Alison Pick, and Carrie Snyder.

I hope that WWLF is a huge success and returns yearly.

Note: you need to sign up in order to attend even the free events, so do be sure to register.

In the north

I have an affinity for rock. Rock emerging from the surface of the earth – insistent, unmitigated, regal. Stones, not so much. Where I grew up in south western Ontario, we liked to say that we had a hundred and fifty feet of topsoil. Each spring stones as big as cantaloupes would sprout in my grandfather’s cornfields. They would need to be “picked” before the spring ploughing could commence. Stones are an annoyance. A deathly annoyance for my grandfather. Rock, by contrast, is elemental.


Chippewa Falls

Chippewa Falls


Almost three hours drive from my childhood home, on the way to Toronto, there are protrusions from the Niagara escarpment that border the highway. Rock! How I used to relish seeing those nubs on our rare travels that way. Years later I saw plenty of rock in Sweden, and also Nepal, as well as the rolling Gatineau hills near Ottawa. But a recent first visit to northern Ontario has set a new benchmark for rock.


Pancake Bay

Pancake Bay


If you are planning a visit to northern Ontario, I recommend choosing the last weekend in September. If possible, arrange for brilliant clear blue skies during the day, and crisp cold nights with a full moon. Push the blustery autumn storms into late October or November so that the lurid palette brushed on to the oak and maple and birch leaves can work its wonder. Then take a drive northward from Sault Ste Marie towards Wawa on the Trans Canada highway. And just marvel.


Agawa Bay

Agawa Bay


Oh, and be sure to keep an eye out for some serious rock.


Agawa Rock

Agawa Rock

Normal posting resumes

Over the past month, I posted here some of the short reviews I wrote this past year on LibraryThing: reviews of 29 of the 59 books I’ve read to date. I chose those reviews where I thought I had something useful to say, good or bad, about the book.  Some books leave me feeling a bit ‘meh’. There isn’t a lot to say about such books. Other books are weak and the less said about them the better. I shall continue posting selected reviews here over the remainder of the year and then make a decision about whether or not to continue the practice.  As ever, comments on my brief reviews (or other posts) are most welcome.

Ottawa interlude

A view of the National GalleryTaking a break from things in Waterloo with a few days in our nation’s capital, where the weather is fine and the views spectacular.

It is always a pleasure returning to a city in which you found happiness many years earlier. To walk with unhurried steps the same streets you hastened along in the past. And to acknowledge that, after all, the years have been good to you.