Out Like a Lamb

imageHere’s to the last sunny Sunday morning in March.  This one went whooshing right on by.  But that’s okay, because I love Sunday afternoons too, no matter what month it is.

Normally I don’t miss three days in a row of putting my  scatter-brained thoughts out there for all the world to see, or ignore, or whatever it is that happens to them.  But when I do,  I have my reasons.  Not saying they’re good ones, but reasons are reasons.  So, on to the profound stuff.  Or the superficial.  Or the moderately sagacious.

1.  Work.  There will be an end to gainful employment for me very soon.  Hopefully in less than six months.   This lovely thought keeps me showing up, since I am able to see an end in sight at last.  Some days that feels like a lifetime away, especially when complete strangers sit down and proceed tell me the most bizarre shit imaginable.  I’m not sure what I do to encourage this.  I don’t think I do anything.  And yet people tell me things that happened to them from years ago right up to and including the past five minutes.  Things that are really none of my business.  So I don’t feel like I should share their information.  And when I come home with my head full of life stories that I never asked to hear,  I’m both physically and mentally exhausted.

2.  I hate the word SHOULD.  Also ought, duty, must, need, and maybe even do.  Because there’s many things waiting to be done and I don’t feel like doing any of them.  I don’t care if I should. And of course that’s a lie, otherwise I wouldn’t even mention it.  GUILT.  Another stupid word.

3.  We are dog-sitting for a week.  All of our grandchildren and their moms are off for a spring break holiday to the sunny south.  I don’t envy them the long overnight flights, but getting away from our cold non-spring-like weather will be a very nice break.  Really, having a dog here as an excuse for doing nothing is pretty lame.  He’s a good little dog.

4.  My I-Pad is evil.  Well maybe that’s a little harsh.  Let’s call it an angel of darkness.  I pick it up and I cannot put it down.  It is very portable.  It plays timba drums (often relentlessly)  when it has something to tell me or show me which may or may not be important.   It reminds me to play Candy Crush and Words with Friends.  It has Netflix.

5.  There are many books on my Kindle waiting to be read.   I purchase them faster than I read them.  One day I hope to get this all evened out.  Living long enough to do so would be nice.

IMG_0821

If this were true I would be disgustingly healthy. Or have a severe vitamin over-dose going on.  I comfort myself with the thought that there are worse addictions and many less relaxing ways to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon than drinking coffee and watching the sixth season of Psych.  Yes, I know, I have issues.  I promise I’ll think about them seriously some other time.  When exactly that might happen depends on how long I live, and possibly on how much coffee I am able to consume.

So what are you up to on your last Sunday in March?  If it’s more exciting than my day, I can’t say I’m too surprised.

Jazzy will be back tomorrow!  There, I’ve said it.  There’s no going back now.

The Joy of Being Booked

fall reading

Photo Credit “Eat Sleep Read”

Prompts For The Promptless Approach-approach conflict is the psychological conflict that results when a choice must be made between two desirable alternatives.

Oh for a life filled with nothing but approach-approach conflicts!  Should I read a book or take a nap?  Pick up an actual paperback or flip open my Kindle?  Read inside or outside? Or upside down?

I think I was born to read.  Time on my own with a book is one of this life’s greatest pleasures. I’m always just one good book away from an excellent mood.

Books are time travelling magic and sometimes it’s hard to start a new book when I’m still living in the last one.  And sometimes it’s equally hard to read just one book at a time.  I will be in the middle of something when I decide to download the next great read, and then I’m impatient to get into that as well.  Often I have three open books in three different places and my kindle collection in hand.  My head is full of delicious choices.

What authors mind and voice and soul will speak to me today?  Decisions, decisions.

From "Therapy Room by Joanna Cross" page on Facebook

From “Therapy Room by Joanna Cross” page on Facebook

Honor What is Ordinary

23 - Brene Brown quote

It’s a cold and blustery Sunday in June - windy, rainy, overcast.  A perfect day for sitting inside where it’s warm, having no place to go and thus some time to spend simply contemplating the meaning of life. (Did you fall for that?  I actually haven’t been contemplating any such thing, really.)  Or have I?  What I’ve been doing is realizing how joyful I am when I am not busy, not in a hurry, and not worried about anything in particular.  I am just happy to be happy with my completely ordinary existence. Grateful for all the simple, ordinary things in my life that I try to remind myself every day should never be taken for granted.

What brought all this on?  you may very well ask.  And also know that whether you ask or not I’ll still go ahead and tell you anyway.  I’ve spent the morning watching You Tube Videos of  Dr. Brené Brown.

Brené Brown, Ph.D., LMSW, is an American scholar, author and public speaker, who is currently a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work. Over the last ten years she has been involved in research on topics ranging from vulnerability, courage, authenticity, to empathy and shame. She has written notable books like The Gifts of Imperfection (2010) and Daring Greatly (2012), and she and her work has been featured on PBS, NPR, TED and CNN. (Wikkipedia)

I’m so impressed by what she has to say that I’ve downloaded her books to my Kindle.  Reading them is going to be next on my agenda for this lovely lazy day.

If you’ve never heard of her, here’s a Super Soul Sunday video with Oprah to get you started listening to her very wise advice about being enough, having compassion, and whole-hearted living.  It will lead you to many more links, and if you have the time, her TED talks are well worth the twenty minutes or so it takes to listen to them.

Listening to her talk has made me appreciate even more all the incredible people who are brave enough to tell their stories here in the blogging world.  What an incredible way this is to reach out and express how we feel, to give and receive empathy and understanding.  To know that none of us is ever alone.

How To Read Two Books At The Same Time

nikolski by dickner

Nikolski by Nicolas Dickner may look a little fishy at first, but it’s an excellent book, even for somebody like me who gets confused easily.  In the beginning it felt like I was reading three completely unrelated stories, but eventually it all comes together as the paths of the characters intersect, although they never really connect for long with each other.

Spring 1989. Three young people leave their far-flung birthplaces to follow their own songs of migration. Each ends up in Montreal, each on a voyage of self-discovery, dealing with the mishaps of heartbreak and the twisted branches of their shared family tree.

Filled with humor, charm, and good storytelling, this novel shows the surprising links between cartography, garbage-obsessed archeologists, pirates past and present, a mysterious book with no cover, and a broken compass whose needle obstinately points to the Aleutian village of Nikolski.  (Goodreads)

Nikolski won the Governor General’s Literary Award for French to English Translation.  It certainly doesn’t read like a translation, so that could be a big reason why it won.

I was interrupted in the middle of reading this by the arrival of my new Kindle.  The breaking of the previous Kindle also interrupted a half read book, so I was torn in two trying to decide where my loyalties lay.  Yep, everyone should have such pressing problems and decisions keeping them awake at night.death of bees

So by going back and forth from book to e-reader,  I have also finished The Death of Bees, by Lisa O’Donnell.  Here’s the great first paragraph and delightful hook for this one.

Today is Christmas Eve. Today is my birthday. Today I am fifteen. Today I buried my parents in the backyard. Neither of them were beloved.

I think you can appreciate my dilemma.  The paper white Kindle is great and I couldn’t wait to use it.  It’s smaller and lighter, with easier to see print.  I’m loving the touch screen except for all my dirty finger prints.  I’m also living dangerously by not yet having purchased a protective cover for it, but I didn’t drop the other one for a couple of years, so maybe this one has some time left accident free.  I’ll get one today.

Sorry, back to the bee book – it deserves a few more praises.  It is a dark comedy about two sisters in Glasgow who could write the book on dysfunctional families.  The story touches on homosexuality, child neglect, child abuse, drug use, drug dealing, drinking, smoking, promiscuity, mental illness, cancer, poverty, being orphaned, social services, and of course the problems that come up when your parents are buried in your back yard.

Since it’s written from the point of view of each sister and a kind but nosy neighbor, it felt like reading the secret journals of each one and thus getting an over view of the big picture.  You would imagine that a book starting out like this one could not possibly end well.  But at the same time you wonder how things could possibly get any worse.  It will keep you reading right to the end to find out what becomes of them all.

I don’t recommend reading books in this helter-skelter manner,  but I do recommend both of these titles and both of their authors.  They are two very different styles and stories, both with unexpected twists and turns.  Maybe they won’t be quite so unexpected if you read them one at a time.

And So We Let The Great World Spin

…because doing that is easier than trying to get it to stop spinning, I guess. At least we haven’t managed that one yet.

let the great world spin colum mccann

When I first saw Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann reviewed on Amazon I was dismayed to learn that it wasn’t yet available on Kindle.  So I had to WAIT FOR IT.  Sheeesh.  I’m much better at instant gratification than I am at being patient.  I waited so long I eventually forgot about it.  And then when I came across it by accident finally listed in the Kindle store a few days ago I downloaded it right away without even trying to remember what my reasons were for thinking I would like it in the first place.

Well, good thing I’m boring as dirt consistantly predictable and don’t change my mind a lot because the book did turn out to be exactly the kind of story that kept me happily reading all the way to the brilliant end.  I’ll admit there was a moment of panic when one section ended and another began and I was completely lost with a brand new cast of characters who seemed to be completely unrelated to the previous set.  I’m not normally a big fan of back to back short stories because of my deeply ingrained need to know what happens next.  But here the stories and the people are all linked in simple or intricate ways;  their lives converge and overlap, and the actions of this one or that one send out ripples which will ultimately affect the actions or even the fate of someone else.  It’s the kind of thing we see every day of course -  action, reaction, watch the dominoes fall.

In New York City, August 1974, Phillipe Petit walked back and forth across a cable between the World Trade Center towers.   This real life event is not necessarily the central focus of the book, but it is the thread that holds it all together.  There is a street priest from Dublin, his brother, his lover, heroin addicts, hookers, mothers who have lost sons to the Vietnam war, artists, computer hackers, cops, and a Park Avenue judge.  And I’m sure I’ve missed more than I’ve mentioned here.  Ordinary people who are capable of extraordinary things.

The book is beautifully written and was well worth the wait. There are some very quotable quotes throughout.  Enjoy this little sampling.  And if you decide to read the whole book, I think you will enjoy that too.

“It was my earliest suggestion of what my brother would become, and what I’d
later see among the cast-offs of New York—the whores, the hustlers, the
hopeless—all of those who were hanging on to him like he was some bright
hallelujah in the shitbox of what the world really was.”

“There are rocks deep enough in this earth that no matter what the rupture, they
will never see the surface. There is, I think, a fear of love. There is a fear
of love.”

“The intrusion of time and history. The collision point of stories. We wait for
the explosion but it never occurs. The plane passes, the tightrope walker gets
to the end of the wire. Things don’t fall apart.”

Teleported by Accident

The Teleportation Accident by Ned Beauman might be the strangest book I’ve ever read.  “LONGLISTED FOR THE 2012 MAN BOOKER PRIZE” is the phrase that impressed me I guess.  Truthfully, I don’t remember how it turned up on my kindle.  Or why.  Maybe it was one of those muddle-headed middle of the night minor mishaps, where I push some buttons on my e-reader with my eyes closed.

I read a few pages and thought, oh my God, what have I gotten myself into now?  Several chapters in I lost count of the times I’d  back-tracked and re-read passages and even whole pages trying to get it all to make a bit of sense.  Eventually I had one of those ah-hah moments.  Once I realized it’s simply an insane story that’s all over the place, that’s when I started to love it.

This partial quote from the Amazon  site sums it up well:

…..a historical novel that doesn’t know what year it is; a noir novel that turns
all the lights on; a romance novel that arrives drunk to dinner; a science
fiction novel that can’t remember what ‘isotope’ means; a stunningly inventive,
exceptionally funny, dangerously unsteady and (largely) coherent novel about
sex, violence, space, time, and how the best way to deal with history is to
ignore it.

If you can wrap your brain around thousands of brilliantly crazy metaphors and similes and want to read a book with four different endings, this could be just what you’ve been waiting for.  There are some difficult  parts and bits of bizarre cleverness that I’m sure went right over my head, but there are also hilarious scenes that had me laughing out loud.  For me it was a sort of roller-coaster read – I had to make myself sit back and enjoy the ride - so that when it was over, I found I couldn’t remember a whole lot about it except for the fun.

What A Difference A Degree (celsius) Makes

Yesterday was the first time I can remember feeling happier to be at work than at home and actually dawdling and dragging my feet when it came time to leave.  Eventually I had to give up the air conditioning, get blasted by the late afternoon heat and drive off in my oven of a car.

Now of course I’m second guessing our decision to pass on having central air installed along with our new furnace.  But that feeling will dissipate with the heat wave.  Our summers are short.  Around four in the morning we had enough of a thunder-storm to cool things down a few degrees, and enough rain to wet the grass.

It’s never too hot to read.  This is another Jincy Willett novel I devoured with lightning speed.

The Writing Class is funny, suspenseful, witty and impossible to put down until you find out who-dunnit.

Scary phone calls, obscene threats,  nasty and offensive peer evaluations on writing assignments, a couple of murders and everyone in the group is a suspect.

Maybe I’m more obtuse than most but I never did figure it out until I read the words that finally identified the killer.

I didn’t realize how dark it had become (with my tilted blinds and the reading light off because it contributes to the heat, if only in my imagination) until I decided to do a search on the kindle for Janet Evanovich because I’ve heard her Stephanie Plum series is really good.  I typed away on the tiny buttons of the keyboard and got this:

Search Results: “jqkmy rbamoniyvj” No items found.

Well, duh.  Never type with sweaty fingers in the dark.  Turns out there is something like nineteen books in the series.  I’ve got the first one now, (One for the Money).  This could be the start of something big.

I just checked our thermostat and the temperature has gone down a whole degree from yesterday!  Having six fans around the house going full blast is having the desired effect.  I’ll just slip happily off to work and leave them to it.

F is for Fifty Shades of F***ery

There have been so many horrible reviews written about the Fifty Shades Trilogy by E. L. James that my mind was made up to not bother reading any of it.  But Book One got downloaded to our shared Kindle (by either one or the other of my daughters, doesn’t matter who)  (and if I did it myself, I don’t remember!) and so there it was, and I thought, what the hell, and started reading.  Finished it and downloaded the second one.  Finished that and downloaded part three.  Seriously, it’s like some kind of strange addiction to the weirdest fairy tale ever written.  Somebody called it “literary crack”.  It’s a modern-day fairy tale fantasy for a day dreaming adolescent, unbelievable in so many ways, and yet I found myself reading away, wanting to believe the unbelievable.  Because it’s just so f***ing unbelieveable I can’t believe it.

Quick character synopsis – Ana Steele, a socially awkward 22-year-old virgin (rolling your eyes already?) who has no idea she’s brilliant, gorgeous and desirable,  meets Christian Grey, a drop dead handsome 27-year-old billionaire control freak who flies a helicopter, owns a jet, lives in a penthouse, employs full-time security staff, has darkly erotic tastes, plays the piano, suffers flashbacks and nightmares from early childhood trauma, was seduced as a teenager by a family friend old enough to be his mother, is heavily into sexual role-playing, has self-loathing issues and been in therapy all his life, and is using his vast wealth to combat world hunger.  Yes. Really.

Even Quicker plot synopsis – They can’t keep their hands off each other or be physically separated without feeling suicidal.  There is a lot of angst.  They work it out.

There is really not much of a plot, very little character development, repetition that will drive you mad, a bit of melodrama here and there, but never any doubt whatsoever that it will all end blissfully and happily like every good romance does.  Oh yeah, and physical intimacy and gratification on every other page. Sometimes every page for pages and pages and pages.  If there were a sexual olympics, Christian and Ana would definitely be contenders.

Who can say why this trilogy is a runaway best seller?  It’s not literary genius by any stretch of the imagination.  There are many more talented writers out there.  I didn’t love it, I didn’t hate it.  But I did read the entire thing.  Just like I read the entire Hunger Games Trilogy.  As for Twilight and Sleeping Beauty – couldn’t make it past book one in either case.

Anyway, now I guess I have a better idea what all the fuss is about.  Much ado about nothing much.  So of course perfectly suited to being turned into a full length movie or two!  My head hurts just thinking about it.  Read it for fun or diversion or to be a critic or to become a six star fan.  Or not at all.  More power to Ms. E.L. James who is laughing all the way to the bank in spite of what we think.  And threatening to write MORE!  I am SO biting my lip (and rolling my eyes) in breathless anticipation.

Things That Go Bump in the Night

Tonight we played the game called Things, which has motivated me to write about all the things that made me happy today.  Yes, I am THAT desperate for inspiration.

1.  We slept late. That’s the royal we.  Probably everyone else was up and being quiet.

2.  The fog rolled in and then it started to rain.

3.  The rain stopped and the sun came out.

4.  Canada won the Men’s World Curling gold medal, because Scotland let them catch a break.  It was very close.

5.  We had a lovely roast beef dinner.  My contribution was a broccoli dish which actually turned out to be edible.

6.  I got a really great picture of my grandchildren sent via phone, an easter greeting from my daughter, a couple of texts from W, and a gazillion requests to play Words With Friends.

7.  My brother told us some stories about the wild things he did when he was in his teens.  I don’t understand how he got away with them.  I wonder why I didn’t learn from his example.  Or maybe I did.

8.  I’ve been into the spiced rum.  It tastes just as good here as it does anywhere else. And after the third one, even better.  But I switched to Bailey’s after that and lost my powers of observation for a bit so I’m unable to comment on what happens after…how many did I say?  Four? And what was I counting again?

9.  I ate a piece of apple pie.  It seriously would not be an Ontario holiday if there wasn’t pie.

10.  I haven’t had time to comment on anyone’s posts, although I’ve been quickly reading and enjoying them when I can.  The only reason this is on my list of things that made me happy is because getting back to blog surfing is one thing I’m looking forward to when I go home.

My days seem to be getting shorter at one end and longer at the other.  Eventually I’ll have to get that turned back around.  A good start would be not reading half the night away.  Which I better get going on while I’m still conscious.  The only thing here that goes bump in the night besides the dogs tail is my book falling on my face when I doze off.  And if I’m reading my Kindle – ouch.

Here’s to March

With rushing winds and gloomy skies The dark and stubborn Winter dies: Far-off, unseen, Spring faintly cries, Bidding her earliest child arise; March!  (Bayard Taylor)

Taken from my front door, entitled “Waste and Recycle Collection Day on Gillingham”.  Not as poetic as the above, but really, really close.

It’s the beginning of the mad days of March, and the first day of yet another month to fill up with bold numbers on my little calendar over there on our right.  If this year ever ends I will probably go back to posting bi-yearly.  No, really, I’m having a blast, I swear.  When the swearing gets out of control you’ll know it’s no longer such a fun process.

I’ve heard the “in like a lion, out like a lamb” saying my whole life but today is not very lion-like.  There’s a bit of snow falling, but it’s not blustery and it’s only 13 below.  After tomorrow, we’re supposed to get sunshine for a week.  March winds, April showers, Bring forth May flowers….yes, we’re headed for spring.  Yay!

(Use your imagination.  There’s green grass under there somewhere.)

Today is also National Pig Day, but I don’t think we’re supposed to celebrate that by roasting pork. And it’s St. David’s Day in the UK, and Peanut Butter Lover’s Day wherever lovers of peanut butter hang out.  I’m content to simply celebrate my Thursday off, enjoying the early March weather by staying out of it, and savoring the view from every window in my house.  Or the vague reflection of it on my kindle screen – even better.