Saturday April 17th 2010, 9:19 am
Filed under: Books
This blog post should have been written right after I read the book, but I needed to wait for a time when I had lots of work and needed the procrastinating. As luck would have it, I forgot what I was going to say. I jotted down the page numbers of two quotes for future reference. I know I Capture the Castle was a good book, but it’s probably good I don’t blurt out any spoilers here.
Just read the novel – though with a word of warning if you don’t like teenage girls and their romances. The narrator here is one, though filtered through a woman in her fifties. Playwright Dodie Smith (most famous as the writer for 101 Dalmatians) took two years to write and re-write a year in the life of a 1930s teenager with literary aspirations living in a decrepit castle in England. The writing comes out pretty good, the characters are all perfect for not being perfect – normal people with no one entirely villainous, like most people in real life. There’s comedy too, with the bear fur coat part as my favourite.
Now for my two quotes – for my reference – probably boring for you, dear reader:
Page 277, on finding help in bad times:
Then I told myself that as I never gave the Church a thought when I was happy, I could hardly expect it to do anything for me when I wasn’t. You can’t get insurance money without paying the premiums.
Page 279, the best description for the use of religion I’ve heard, which more people should keep in mind:
‘It’s merely shorthand for where we come from, where we’re going, and what it’s all about.’
Monday April 05th 2010, 10:47 am
Filed under: Lists
Someone posted Shirley Eleanor Nash’s obituary on Facebook. Born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada in 1916, she died on Thursday, March 11, 2010 at 93. I don’t want to forget who she is nor how well she lived her life, so here’s the link to this great lady. Just in case, too, I am adding her photo here:
(Besides, they had more style back then. The hippies probably ruined North Americans’ fashion sense for ever.)
In case they ever remove the obituary, I made a bulleted list of her life’s highlights to refer to when I need a little push towards the life I want to live:
In 1940, yearning to see the world, she quit school, sold her car and bought a steamship ticket to China. As the only American, her fellow passengers were Japanese diplomats being ordered home and German army officers recalled to Berlin. Shirley told how the atmosphere was very tense with the two groups barely polite to one another. Arriving in Shanghai, she worked as a daily newspaper reporter in the city guarded by Japanese tanks and barbed wire barricades. In November 1941, she boarded the last ship out of China before the war. A sister ship, with all her belongings, was blown up in the Philippines.
In the 1950s, Shirley attended Whittier College on the GI Bill received a Bachelors and Masters with highest honors and worked as a college professor at Chaffey College for 25 years where she founded and headed the Interior Design department and taught architectural history.
Shirley was the first white woman to explore Dutch Guiana’s Suriname River, and she did it in a dugout canoe just 5 years after locals stopped practicing cannibalism. She taught school in St. Thomas and St. Croix during the 1960s and tromped through mosquito-infested jungles to photograph ruins in Uxmal, Chichen Itza, Merida and Palenque decades before they became popular tourist destinations.
Shirley became a scholar specializing in California’s estancia and adobe architectural history of the 18th and 19th centuries. She was part of a team of historians that catalogued many of the 19th century homes in southern California. Noted as feisty and finding ways to get things done, she once applied to Hearst Castle for permission to do on-site research of its architecture and interiors, but was declined. She then applied for a job as a guide and was hired, which allowed her to do her research and get paid too.
An art lover, Shirley was an award-winning photographer, a skilled carver, weaver, mosaic artist and a basket maker using traditional Native American materials.
Monday April 05th 2010, 10:30 am
Filed under: Art,Film
My dad sent me this video with no explanation. I thought everyone was crying with joy at the unbridled creative expression. What art lovers those Russians are, I said to myself. The artist used a light box and sand to create a performance where her drawing was almost, at parts, a form of dancing. I’ve always envied performers and musicians that their arts could be shared immediately with their audience (and make money busking should they ever find themselves on the streets), whereas poor writers and visual artists had to create something out of the public eye for exclusive venues like galleries. Ha! Light boxes on TV, I thought, that’s the trick! Maybe now we can have televised drawing on TV!
Turns out I should have researched this. The young woman is 24-year-old Ukrainian artist Kseniya Simonova on some sort of TV talent show. She won the $1,000,000 Ukraninan Hryvnia prize. Which is a good thing because the young mother from the Crimean lost her business in 2008.
It’s a good thing she’s got hipster bangs and dresses well.
There are two types of guinea pig poops: the normal hard ones and the soft caecotrophs. Caecotrphs have proteins and vitamins that the guinea pig takes back by eating right from its anus as it emerges, up to 150 a day.
Guinea pigs have 258 bones: 34 in the spinal cord, 43 in each front leg, 36 in each back leg, seven in their pelvis as a fused tail, and the difference in their ribs, skulls, and breast.
Female guinea pigs are sows and males are boars.
Besides the terrible kicks guinea pigs can get from rabbit companions, the bacterial infection Bordetella is another reason to keep rabbits and cavies separate.
Barbering happens among bored or hungry guinea pigs, when the dominant one begins chewing on the others’ coats. Better, more frequent food and more exercise helps relieve this.
As for the guinea pig language:
The meep-meep-meep sound indicates greeting, especially greeting the imminent arrival of food. Accompanies the fridge door opening and especially the opening of the vegetable crisper. Ears go up and down during the meep-meep-meep.
Purring happens when opposite sexes meet.
Angry purring and teeth chattering indicates an argument among guinea pigs.
General chirps indicate normal guinea pig conversations. Guinea pigs share tales of terror in this speech pattern after returning to the cage following a run-in with an overzealous, cuted-out human.