Friday, June 14, 2013

Revisiting old friends

I just finished re-reading A Tale of Two Cities; Northanger Abbey; Pride & Prejudice; the Indian in the Cupboard series; and An Old-Fashioned Girl. I enjoyed Northanger Abbey much this time than I did 13 years ago, haha.

I'm a repeat reader, for sure. I have favourite books that I get off the shelf a couple times a year, especially if I'm sick or haven't been to the library lately. A handful of these include Harry Potter Book 1 and Book 7 (all of the Potters, really, but those two the most); Strong Poison, Gaudy Night, and Busman's Honeymoon, by Dorothy Sayers; The Hawk and the Dove, by Penelope Wilcock; and O Jerusalem, by Laurie R. King. A new addition to the favourites is The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green.

They're like my fuzzy bathrobe: familiar, comforting, welcoming.
Always waiting for me. Able to distract me when I'm hurting.

What books do you love to re-read? Or what have you re-read lately?

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

I don't want to be ______!

I was reading a memoir on Saturday, and I started thinking about adjectives. Not just the ones I like the best, or the ones I think are hackneyed, or ones I loathe....
I will confess right now, there are one or two I'm scared of.

I'm scared that they will be applied to me, either now or when I'm dead.
(It was a memoir about ALS. I don't have any lethal conditions that I know of.)
And the tragicomic part of it is, they're not exactly terrible words.
You'll see what I mean.

One of the ones I'm afraid of is 'flighty'. I am not always as reliable or as capable as I'd like to be, and I am trying to be better at following up on plans and projects, but I still fear being labelled for this.

I'm also scared of 'slob', 'dowd', 'sloth', and 'useless'. Oh, and 'untrustworthy'. And 'shallow'.

'Angry', 'bitchy', and 'snide' are probably all too applicable.

But my number one, as embarrassing as it is to admit, is 'sonsy'. Ooooh, it makes me cringe! I have this deep-rooted fear that it will be used to describe me at some point, and I can't bear the thought! I know it's silly, and I thought that maybe if I put it out there in the cyber-open, I could stop worrying about it more easily.

 Are there words that you're afraid someone will use to describe you?

(Don't worry, I have some more positive posts coming up.)

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Bath-song by J.R.R. Tolkein

Sing hey! For the bath at close of day
that washes the weary mud away
A loon is he that will not sing
O! Water Hot is a noble thing!

O! Sweet is the sound of falling rain,
and the brook that leaps from hill to plain;
but better than rain or rippling streams
is Water Hot that smokes and steams.

O! Water cold we may pour at need
down a thirsty throat and be glad indeed
but better is beer if drink we lack,
and Water Hot poured down the back.

O! Water is fair that leaps on high
in a fountain white beneath the sky;
but never did fountain sound so sweet
as splashing Hot Water with my feet!

Monday, September 3, 2012


I love slugging around, don't you? I especially love what I've dubbed a "British day",
where it's cool and rainy outside and I don my trusty bathrobe- the navy one with deep pockets that has a rip in the collar- to make several cups of tea per hour and try to read and write a little before returning my attentions to the laundry.

On such days my usual game is to imagine myself inside a favourite book- maybe Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, or Gaudy Night, or The Beekeeper's Apprentice.
I can turn this game into writing prompts by pretending to be Mary Russell, noticing details around me and trying to put them into a larger context.
Or playing at Harriet Vane, and turning everyday occurrences into scenes for a novel.

Another game which I invented years ago to make laundry and seasonal clothes-packing more interesting involves 'advertising' articles of clothing. (My sister and I used to play this in front of a big mirror as though we were on TV.) You hold up a piece of clothing and then describe it in detail- either accurately, or with advertising zeal, or even in a negative, affected fashion- and try to out-bid or out-do the other person.

I need to create a dialogue-based game, since I'm better at description and characterization than I am at generating good dialogue or plot points!

What's your ideal way to spend a quiet day?

Monday, August 27, 2012


As I'm getting back into the process of creative writing, a friend suggested that I find some blogs or tumblrs or writing sites that offer good writing prompts. I hadn't thought of it, but when she said that, it seemed so obvious! That's how rusty I am...

I have found one or two that I like on tumblr- though to be honest I only login once or twice a week- and a few good random ones here and here. We also have a book or two on our shelves here at home that have prompts, exercises, and ideas. I still enjoy the feeling of writing by hand for short pieces, so I think I want to answer prompts on paper and then take them to the computer if they seem to be leading somewhere.

I think a realistic goal I will set from this week until Christmas is to answer a prompt every other day- and I'll probably have the best luck with it at lunchtimes or before bed.

And I should be sure to put a little notebook in my new purse so I always have some paper around, since as I mentioned previously, my style of humour and storytelling is very observational.

One book about writing that I like to read for its own sake is Anne Lamott's sweet and honest book Bird By Bird. It makes me laugh every time I pick it up, and inspires me to try afresh. I also love her style of writing; she has a distinctively wry voice which sounds so plaintive yet playful.

I've also been re-reading L. M. Montgomery's Emily of New Moon trilogy (for the millionth time), and her diary entries usually make me feel that I might be better off venting or recording my thoughts on paper instead of generally dumping them on MM all the time. (He tries to listen but I don't completely blame him for tuning out.)

What other resources do you find useful in prompting new material?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

I'm a Hufflepuff, and I'm happy that way

I was a late and reluctant reader of the Harry Potter series, only to fall madly in love with it when I gave in and started reading them. Now I'm a bit of a Potter nerd, and I'm not really sorry for that. It will be interesting to see what place the series holds in the hearts of future generations; I suspect it will rank alongside and below such works as the Lord of the Rings, but probably outrank the Chronicles of Narnia, the Chronicles of Prydain, and other such beloved works of fantasy, simply because of the sheer size of the Potter fandom (and the range in ages of its fans, some of whom were kids when the series came out, book by book, and some who were adults, not that it matters).

Nearly every time I take one of those Sorting quizzes, I get Hufflepuff as a result. Once or twice I've gotten Ravenclaw, but I think that's because those two houses are arguably more similar than any of the rest.

This used to upset me, at first. I mean, nothing against Hufflepuff, despite my love for badgers in literature, but I think most readers naturally favour Gryffindor which has a) the coolest name, b) the famous Potter, c) a reputation for bravery, and d) most of the adventures. And despite the fact that they are fictional houses, I don't think it's necessarily a futile exercise to assess oneself in such a way.

Slytherin maintains a bad reputation, of course, but also the association of cleverness and the ability to manipulate others through charisma (or old-fashioned threatening). Ravenclaw has the distinction of being genuinely wise, clear-sighted, and philosophical. Poor old Hufflepuff's sterling qualities are loyalty and friendship, which simply don't sound as grand.

Ah, but they are indeed qualities that matter, and matter to the majority of society in a more direct way than mere philosophy, manipulation, or even courage. Upon further reflection, I concluded that I simply am not brave. (I fear too many things to be considered brave, and I rarely confront those fears of my own volition. During at least half of Harry's exploits I would have stayed behind with Neville.)

Nor am I particularly clever. I have my moments, but the number of derpy, ditsy ones quite overwhelms the others. I have just enough cleverness to know my (manifold) limitations.

I hope I am not manipulative. I do not think I am charismatic. (I think most people who possess those two qualities can recognize them, like Tom Riddle did.)

I am, definitely, deeply loyal to my friends, and very much in need of them. I am a people person, first and last, and this is my strength and also my undoing. Of the handful of talents I possess, loving is perhaps the best. I deeply value fairness and temerity as well. Hufflepuffs are self-deprecating, easygoing, and always ready for fun.

There are downfalls to this personality, naturally.
I can get a little weird(er) if left alone too long. I feed off the energy of a group or crowd or even a single friend nearby, which can leave me deeply drained without my noticing. I can talk the leg off a table (yes, that is a downfall!). I have a lot of friends, some would say too many. I am a people pleaser, too, and often make promises I cannot keep. I like to do things for people- give special gifts and remembrances- and I've been told I have a saviour complex because I worry too much about others' affairs and grievances- specifically ways they might be rescued.

In the past year I have tried to emphasize keeping my word, not taking too much upon myself, and giving my worries to God more faithfully and frequently, with some success, though there is still much room to improve. I also have to work hard to keep my family and friends from becoming idols in my heart that take precedence before God.

I have to go now- but I have more thoughts on these matters for later.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Someone else said it better

 It seems to me that the great pleasure of human life is not in having an opinion, but rather in learning all the ways you are wrong, and all the nuances you failed to account for, and all the truths that turned out to be not as simple as you once believed.

~John Green, via tumblr