Archive for the 'reading' Category

:: right now ::

Sunday, June 12th, 2011

(a la Earthenwitch). Right now I am:

cuddling a sad and bruised youngest daughter and wondering where all the blood came from (update: she’s fine, just got a huge fat lip. Teeth all intact.)

Packing. And fretting. We appear to have extremely nervous buyers who have now sent three surveyors round (and the third, this morning, warned me that a fourth might be forthcoming). Fortunately I have surveyor-charming skills and have made them all tell me what they find (I’m not supposed to tell you but). Seriously: they are buying a 110-year-old house, it is going to have, ahem, quirks. Features. Oddly, their solicitor does not seem to know they are doing all this. On which note…

waiting for our solicitor to call me back. Nothing so far has led me to believe the poor woman knows how to operate a telephone.

reading umpteen magazines (crafty homey ones, mostly) while resolving to kick the expensive, pointless magazine habit.

trying to get a reading group off the ground: who’d have thought it would be so difficult to get more than two people together in the same place, with books, at the same time.

making (a mess, ha ha) – lazy-days skirts. Flowers for M and hungry-caterpillar circles for T.

editing some nonsense about dogs

using up the contents of fridge/freezer/cupboard with weird and unpredictable results.

Kneading and ritting

Thursday, February 17th, 2011

(Or, yarn along from small things – where you post what you are reading and knitting with, I hope, no requirement to be able to do both simultaneously.)

Books and needles

The small dull-blue pretty thing on gorgeous wooden needles will one day in the distant future, I hope, be a river shawl. I cast it on approximately 800 years ago, its leisureliness caused by being a pattern that requires attention, ie I can’t do it in front of the telly. The long, long grey thing at the front will one day be a shrug for me. I love the yarn (Rowan lima, all sort of braidedy plaity instead of twisted, soft and cuddly and yum); I can do the pattern with my eyes closed* after so many many miles of it. However, as it is so very long now, it is hardly portable, so the very bright ball of Noro towards the back there is about to start being turned into small, portable, socks. This represents a paradigm shift for me as I have scoffed at the idea of knitting socks: Karen, I apologise.

Reading-wise: a large pile of sewing and knitting magazines – I basically went into Hobbycraft and bought one of each in a bid to work out which are me and long-term stop wasting money on magazines full of patterns for old-lady cardies. Time will tell whether it works. “The shipping news”, which I started before (like, 10 years ago) and hated so gave up.  I then watched and adored the film, so I am giving it a second chance. And “delusions of gender” which is fascinating, such that I keep reading bits out to anybody who will pay attention. (Jenny is very interested.)

*I can’t really, I can’t even do it and read: I can do it while listening to and keeping half an eye on a television programme. Cameron doesn’t mind at all when I make him rewind because I forgot to pay attention for a bit. No not at all.

Book Quiz

Sunday, January 16th, 2011

(from Daisy Yellow)

What is on your reading list for 2011? Dear me, I don’t make a reading list. I have rooms of unread books. I have decided, by way of a not-new-year-resolution, to stop buying or borrowing from the library (with the exception of non-fiction which is allowed) until I have made some inroads on the pile.

What was the best fiction book you read in 2010? Important artifacts and personal property from the collection of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris, including books, street fashion and jewelry, by Leanna Shapton. It was a weird one.
What book was the biggest let down in 2010? A tiny bit marvellous, by Dawn French. A funny lady but the characters were unbelievable and the plot vaguely nonexistant.
Do you remember the first short story you wrote as a kid? What was it about? I remember writing “the cat who wanted to do everything” about a cat who, well, wanted to do stuff. I remember “talkabout mummy”, based on the ladybird talkabout books. The, slightly older, I produced a series of books about walking talking fruit.
Do you keep track of the books you read? Yes, here. All the way back to 2002!
How many books are on your TO READ list? Loads.
Where is your favorite reading spot? On the sofa in peace and quiet. I hate reading in bed!
How many books (fiction + non-fiction) did you read in 2010? 31
Do you read more than one book at once? Yes always – usually one novel, a bath book and at least one non-fiction.
Do you read more fiction or non-fiction? Fiction: I am never without a novel on the go

Morning song (Sylvia Plath)

Saturday, October 9th, 2010

Love set you going like a fat gold watch.
The midwife slapped your footsoles, and your bald cry
Took its place among the elements.

Our voices echo, magnifying your arrival. New statue.
In a drafty museum, your nakedness
Shadows our safety. We stand round blankly as walls.

I’m no more your mother
Than the cloud that distills a mirror to reflect its own slow
Effacement at the wind’s hand.

All night your moth-breath
Flickers among the flat pink roses. I wake to listen:
A far sea moves in my ear.

One cry, and I stumble from bed, cow-heavy and floral
In my Victorian nightgown.
Your mouth opens clean as a cat’s. The window square

Whitens and swallows its dull stars. And now you try
Your handful of notes;
The clear vowels rise like balloons.

Born yesterday (Philip Larkin)

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

Tightly-folded bud,
I have wished you something
None of the others would:
Not the usual stuff
About being beautiful,
Or running off a spring
Of innocence and love –
They will all wish you that,
And should it prove possible,
Well, you’re a lucky girl.

But if it shouldn’t, then
May you be ordinary;
Have, like other women,
An average of talents:
Not ugly, not good-looking,
Nothing uncustomary
To pull you off your balance,
That, unworkable itself,
Stops all the rest from working.
In fact, may you be dull –
If that is what a skilled,
Vigilant, flexible,
Unemphasised, enthralled
Catching of happiness is called.

A book thingy

Tuesday, May 27th, 2008

Found at the kitchenwitch‘s site and a welcome diversion from the glorious combination of solo-mumming and work

(ok I changed it a little to suit)

(I seem to have rather a lot of these sitting in my unread pile upstairs)

I’ve read it
I read it for school
I started but didn’t finish it
I’ll never read it
Maybe one day
(Never heard of it)

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell (will finish one day when I have time)
Anna Karenina

Crime and Punishment
One Hundred Years of Solitude
Wuthering Heights
The Silmarillion
Life of Pi: A Novel
The Name of the Rose
Don Quixote
Moby Dick
Madame Bovary
The Odyssey
Pride and Prejudice
Jane Eyre
A Tale of Two Cities
The Brothers Karamazov
(Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies)
War and Peace
Vanity Fair
The Time Traveler’s Wife
The Iliad
The Blind Assassin
The Kite Runner
Mrs Dalloway
Great Expectations
(American Gods)
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
Atlas Shrugged
Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books

Memoirs of a Geisha
(Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West)
The Canterbury Tales
The Historian
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Love in the Time of Cholera
Brave New World
The Fountainhead
Foucault’s Pendulum
The Count of Monte Cristo
A Clockwork Orange
(Anansi Boys)
The Once and Future King
The Grapes of Wrath
The Poisonwood Bible
Angels & Demons
(The Inferno)
The Satanic Verses
Sense and Sensibility
The Picture of Dorian Gray
Mansfield Park
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
To the Lighthouse (shudder)
Tess of the D’Urbervilles
Oliver Twist
Gulliver’s Travels
Les Misérables
(The Corrections)
(The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay)
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
The Prince
The Sound and the Fury
Angela’s Ashes: A Memoir
The God of Small Things
A People’s History of the United States: 1492-present
A Confederacy of Dunces
A Short History of Nearly Everything
The Unbearable Lightness of Being
The Scarlet Letter
Eats, Shoots & Leaves
The Mists of Avalon
(Oryx and Crake)
Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed
Cloud Atlas
(The Confusion)
Northanger Abbey
The Catcher in the Rye
On the Road
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
The Aeneid
Watership Down
(Gravity’s Rainbow)
The Hobbit
In Cold Blood
White Teeth
Treasure Island
David Copperfield
The Three Musketeers

Catching up

Tuesday, May 20th, 2008

I was quite worried yesterday – M went to preschool for the whole day (9-5) and it was just looming over me. I no longer know what to do with just one toddler! What did I used to do when M was 18 months? She had been asking and asking to go, though, curious to know what happens in the afternoons (it turns out that they have sandwiches and play musical statues and it is just great), and I will have to get used to it in September, or 9-3 anyway, so off she went.

T and I actually had a very nice day. We took the bus to town in the morning for a quick coffee/babyccino (I know I was slightly disparaging about Starbucks’ babyccinos last time, but they are free which has to be a good thing) then to the library for “storytime”. Which, oddly, involved musical instruments and songs but only one story. The librarian recognised me and asked if Maggie was in school now, which is always gratifying and makes you feel like you belong (fancy remembering her name!), and we picked up a new book for M – see below. Came home on the bus, quick bite of lunch, then T went off for a nap in the car at the allotment.

I got loads done: dug a nice round pit, filled it with a layer of grass clippings, having watched Joe Swift do exactly that on GW on Friday and persuaded C to cut the grass on Sunday. Put the soil back on top, constructed a fairly shoddy wigwam (having left my string at home) and got the french beans in – alternate yellow and purple all the way round should look really good! Put seeds of both in between the poles, too, to hopefully keep them coming a bit longer. The PSB has flowered, apart from one plant, so I picked the last little shoots from that one and dug two plants up to compost. They are great big tree-like plants which entirely filled my compost bin so the other two will have to wait in the ground until it has rotted down a bit. Picked our first salad for tea – all the seedlings that were in the wrong place – side-effect of having a 4-year-old sow your seeds – plus a couple of pigeon-pecked little gems. Along with the last bits of broccoli made a very nice salad (there’s nothing like fresh leaves).

Came home to make some chicken-liver sauce for pasta then it was time to collect M and not a scrap of housework done!

Now, books. We’ve read the Faraway Tree series to M and she’s really enjoyed it; enjoyed the chapter-by-chapter installments (rather than a book you read all in one go) and the level is just right. I am struggling to find anything similar so any suggestions would be gratefully received. The librarian was most helpful and provided pamphlets and ideas; I came home with an “animal ark” book, which is really too grown up* and an Olga da Polga, which I think might be OK.

*I’ve read the first two chapters and we’ve encountered a son upset because his dad is remarrying: she is only just 4 and really more suited to pop biscuits and fairy spells.

On literature

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2008

We’re having what Pewari euphemistically tell me is called a “mental health day” today. I’d have called it a “sitting on my lazy arse” day, but hers sounds better – and, to be fair, we often have days like this and I do have robust mental health (touch wood) so perhaps there is something in it. If you’d asked me last night what I was going to achieve today the list would have been long: to town on the bus to go to bank, library, Holland and Barratt, and (shh!) get a birthday present for Cameron. By 10 am, however, it was apparent that none of this was going to happen. I am trying quite hard to not spend the entire day chatting on msn and surfing at random, but Cameron left at 6 am, after which we all fell asleep again, and I can’t quite bring myself to care whether the kitchen is clean or the living room tidy. Let’s be honest: I struggle to care at the best of times, and this is not the best of times.

In other news: Tamsin has her first shoes, a minute size 2 1/2. She’s right on the cusp of toddlerhood and really not a baby any more.
And if you’ll excuse a bit of insufferable mummy pride, Maggie is clearly a methmatical genius in the making: I told her to eat 10 more spoonfuls of weetabix. After a bit she told me she’d eaten 5 so had 5 more to go. Then I asked how many she’d had she said 2, then told me that meant there were 3 left! I was most impressed – no counting on fingers required (apart from by me, to make sure she was correct).

Less impressive perhaps, but more amusing: she told me she had been asleep for 100 years and been woken by a handsome prince. I asked his name; she told me Sarry. “Sarry?” I said. Yes, Prince Sarry. Say it fast!

A Tamsin anecdote to even things up: one day last week she scampered up the stairs on her own and back down again bringing my conditioner from the bathroom as a souvenir. It’s great to know she is safe and confident on the stairs but this is not quite the way I expected to find out. She might feel ready but I’m not sure I am yet.

I’ve been reading Kate Atkinson’s latest book, which has had me wondering why some novels are literary and some just, well, novels. I’ve found some interesting ideas around the web, about internal versus external plots and about longevity, which seems to confuse literary fiction with classics (are they necessarily the same thing?) At which point my brain went la la la and I reverted to housewifery (while continuing to enjoy my book. I think, for what it’s worth, literary fiction is that which speaks to something deep inside: without necessarily knowing what or why, it touches your soul. Even if it is nominally a detective story. Oh, and it probably needs some recurring motifs that have a clever link to the characters.)

And now I am going to order some seed potatoes. Who says there is no variety in the non-working life?

Please make it stop

Sunday, July 22nd, 2007

Gah! This weather! Feels even worse because we had two reasonably nice days this week, on one of which there were no showers at all. Astounding. We walked to a castle and down by a river and, OK, wellies were quite welcome but still. Nil precipitation. My washing dried.

This weekend is back to normal: I failed to leave the house yesterday then today we zipped around the zoo, dashing for shelter every time the rain came back on – but I am really not complaining too hard as we saw some different animals. Our usual zoo route, led by Maggie, goes elephants, monkeys optional, bats optional, giraffes, okapi, chimps, orangutans*, flamingoes, penguins, sealions, play. Tigers, Lions, marmots, home. Today we saw rhinos! Meerkats! Lots of antelopey things and wildy horses! And managed to end up at the posh ice-cream stand at the appropriate time (as opposed to the cheapo Nestle stuff that we are usually forced into). 

Of course I’ve been reading a bit of Harry too. Not page by breathless page, as I’ve consumed the others – one just doesn’t get stretches of uninterrupted time any more – but zipping through it nonetheless. The postie handed it to Cameron yesterday morning with a cheery “Harry Potter” (I imagine he had a fair few to deliver), confusing Cameron somewhat. He’s not a fan. He has, however, read the last couple of pages.

Oh, and we finished season 3 of Lost. What the …?!

*Anybody in the vicinity of Chester Zoo: the new orangutan house is fantastic. I recommend.

Slowly, slowly…

Monday, January 8th, 2007

the new site is taking shape. I know it looks the same to you as it did yesterday but I now have my book lists in the new style. I had a thoroughly interesting half hour reformatting the lists: I knew I was reading less these days but hadn’t realised quite how much less. Pre-Maggie I went through a book a week (and “proper” books too, with far fewer trash thrillers and mummy memoirs). Maggie’s birth decreased my reading to more like one a month; moving back from Japan decreased the rate again (driving in a car rather than sitting on a train hasn’t helped) and I have read precisely two thrillers since Tamsin’s arrival. It’s not just a lack of time – though mostly that – but also a lack of mental function even though Tamsin is an angel who now does a full 6-hour stretch at night (maybe I am suffering mummy amnesia but I don’t think Maggie did that until she was much older).

I was, however, quite impressed with my ability to recall great swathes of plot for almost every book on the list. Even those from 2002. Apart from a pile of books by Richard North Patterson (who the hell is he and why did I read so many?) and Colette, of which I have no memory, although I do know I read it for my book group and that it has <200 pages following one member's request for short books.