Thursday, February 28, 2008
I need your help.
I joined the One Book, One New Orleans project sponsored by the Young Leadership Council.
The book to be selected needs to be fiction and light-hearted. No Katrina books nor sad ones - we need some fun.
I think it might be too soon for Murakami's After the Quake, a novel which relates how people in Japan reacted to the Kobe earthquake of 1995 and decided to change their lives.
I am going to look over my list for appropiate books and if the author is alive, I hope the author can come to New Orleans.
I am not going to suggest any novels based in New Orleans, like Walker Percy's The Moviegoer (set in sad Gentilly neighborhood) nor John O'Toole's Confederacy of the Dunces (travels to some areas that are still in a sad state). Some of the settings would make me cry right now.
What are your suggestions?
Previous selections were:
Monday, February 25, 2008
This counts as a book in the
Expanding Horizons Challenge - Africa
I am noticing a little trend. Some bloggers are reading books from a child's point of view. The Asylum recently reviewed Child of All Nations. Reading Matters just finished reading The Book Thief.
I also read The Boy in the Striped Pyjama but haven't gotten around to blogging about it. And for an Africa book, I just happened to select another book told from the child's perspective.
Actually, half of the story takes place in Nigeria, but the spirits and feelings of that country follow Jessy to England.
Jessy is a sensitive child. I suspect she has autism, but she is never diagonised with that disease. While hiding in her cupboard at her home in Crankbrook, she felt calm, because "outside the cupboard, Jess felt as if she was in a place where everything moved too fast, all colours, all people talking and wanting to say things. So she kept her eyes on the ground, which pretty much stayed the same."
Her English father was more patient with Jessy than her Nigerian mom. When Jessy got too stressed, she would throw screaming tantrums at school. But, due to her mother's influence, Jessy skipped a grade in school and was reading Shakespeare, and other advanced literature at a young. However, her mom didn't tell her any European fairy tales; she told Jessy Nigerian folk tales and legends.
On her first trip ever to Nigeria, Jessy finally meets a nice playmate, named Titola or Tilly Tilly, since Jessy's Yoruba pronounciations isn't so good yet.
Tilly Tilly is magical. She takes Jessy to a closed amusement park. "The gates went backwards with a gust of warm air, and the padlocks fell to the ground, their chains loosened, sunken in the sand...It was as if the amusement park was alive."
Jessy soon returns to England, but she has trouble adjusting to school. Tilly Tilly shows up, and things are fine for awhile. Soon, Jessy notices subtle things. Tilly Tilly can take her to places and no one can see them. Beth of Little Women is now mean instead of being nice.
So who is Tilly Tilly really? As the story progresses, it gets more chilling.
Oyeyemi adopted a Yoruba tale of twins or multiples in a modern setting that travels to another continent.
Part trilller, part legend, part psychology, part family secrets, this novel works on many levels. And, amazing well written. Oyeyemi was between high school and college years when it was published.
I learned of the Nigerian Yoruba belief of Mulitples or Twins via the novel, The Icarus Girl by Helen Oyeyemi. (My book review here.)
The collage on the left is Tilly Tilly. She first appeared to Jessy in a cottony dress. I took a gauzy material that is used for book repairs and cut many layers to make a crude dress.
The right collage represents Jessy. She lives in England, so I made a little school uniform for her. I knitted the jacket, skirt, and hat(no, the round thing is NOT her hair.) I knitted a conservative scraf that blows in the wind. I found the English flag in a postcard and I made the Nigerian flag out of scrap watercolor paper and pieces of an old credit card.
I used a crayon and stencil to make the background design and applied one layer of watercolor paints.
I didn't dare draw a face, because I can't draw worth a lick. So, let the faces be abstractions.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
The print copy looks better than the above link, and unfortunately, I can't reproduce it for you each week.
Not only does it include the usual national best sellers lists and reviews of books, Susan Larson, the editor, has been interviewing literary individuals and book groups, to find out what they are doing!
I get to peek into the minds of other bibliophiles. How cool is that?
There are also extensive compilations of events coming up. This spring looks like it will be busy.
Click here for festivals and here for author signings.
I am hoping to attend one or two master classes in the Tennessee Williams festival. I want to attend book readings by Lisa See (who so nicely answered my emails) and Susan Vreeland. (Fingers crosses, please no rains those days; I don't want to be caught driving in flooded streets.)
I still haven't finalized my spring outings but I am having fun doing it. I am in the process of asking a few people to come along.
Maybe someday, MOI, will be interviewed? After all, I blog regularly about books and I started a book club. (snobby sniff here.)
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Ok - here's my confession; I don't like the following music genres because the most of the lyrics are so depressing - US country music, Tango (Carlos Gardel comes to mind), and Mariachi.
My friend, PD, gave me free tickets to Fiesta Sinfonica: Mariachi Cobre and the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, at Tulane University. (The Orpheum Theater, which was LPO's home, before the Katrina, is still boarded up.)
I was a bit leery at first, but I wanted to give mariachi another chance plus have a chance to dress up and go to a nice event with my family.
Well, I had fun and so did my young relatives.
PD got us some nice seats. We were in the third row of the balcony and could hear well and see the musicians.
The combination of both groups lent an interesting interpretation of mariachi. The conductor, Carlos Miquel Prieto, was so enthusiastic in this concert! His smile was contagious; he loves hearing music from his homeland.
My young relatives got a nice exposure to a real orchestra; they participate in their school musical activities, but seeing and hearing the pros gave them another perspective.
I loved dressing up; it's been awhile since I have done that.
Maestro Prieto would talk in Spanish to the Cobre Musicians and then they would translate, but not every comment. My young relatives liked the fact that not everyone in the audience could understand all the conversation.
The Marchi Cobre singers hit high notes and were able to sing a note for a LONG time. The music from the violins, guitars, and trumpets were gorgeous.
When they sang the high notes, I didn't understand what they were saying, but that was ok. I admire the artistry of all creative people.
Here is more information on Mariachi Cobre
I am hoping that the trend of playing with an orchestra is not the beginning of the end of mariachi.
Waltz music used to be dance music at parties and balls. Now, the music is played by orchestra, and the only people dancing the waltz are people at a wedding or ballroom dancers in competition.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
In the Plant Category for What's in a Name Reading Challenge , I was looking for a nice book to read and couldn't find one in my stacks, so I went to the library for this one.
It's a fun mystery. Kay, an antiques dealer, and her husband, Alex, an architect move to an old home in Wilshire county, England and find a blue rose in their garden.
Blue roses don't exist in nature and if they ever exist, there will be a frenzy. (See more details in Flower Confidential).
Kay and Alex get caught up in the international flower trade and intrigue.
There is also a visit to a spy center that can decode some cryptic notes that have information about how the blue rose came about.
A fun read! You learn about horticulture and the flower business.
Plus, there are more books in the series. Psst, Psst, BookGirl - a new mystery series for you.
Monday, February 18, 2008
The two theories of light (if things haven't changed since I took physics in college) :
sometimes it behaves like a particle and sometimes it behaves like a wave.
So, my sun has both. I used a hole puncher to make the circles out of my paper scraps. Then I made my waves from other scraps. The background is watercolor paints.
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
What I do in my free time - so much to choose from.
I like to watch movies, read books, magazines, and newspapers,
knit, swim, write haiku, and do collage and assemblage.
I also like to travel and go out with friends but I didn't have any pictures of those activities to add.
Monday, February 11, 2008
I finished reading the very short Lady Susan by Jane Austen and will re-read it before I review it. The entire book is a series of letters (it could count as short stories, for those on the Short Story Challenge). I had problems keeping track of the relationships of who was writing to whom and had to make a little chart.
A Work in Progress had mentioned the PBS series on Jane Austen and I have been watching it ever since. A very relaxing way to end the weekend and to prepare for the work week! Lady Susan didn't make the cut for the series. Boo Hoo.
My last UK purchase was the Boy in Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne. I kept dreading to pick it up and when I got the courage to read it, I couldn't but it down. It's a story about the son of the German officer who makes friends with a boy in Out-With, Poland. The German boy had trouble pronouncing some words; he called the leader of the Third Reich, The Fury.
It's told from children's points of view. The adults are a bit more involved than the Charlie Brown parents, but not much. It reminds me of Book Thief in terms of the viewpoint of the protagonists and the time period, but the locations are different.
I will have a real review later. I need to digest the story some more.
Through Reading Matters, I found The Asylum blog. He has been lucky in getting advance reading copies and reviewing other books that will probably take a year to get down here. He just read Child of the Nation, that was written in the 1930s about a girl who has to leave Germany because of the Fury. And the viewpoint is from a child.
For the Expanding Horizon book challenge, I wanted an African book that WASN'T about anyone from Northern Africa, white people writing or moaning about the glorious colonial days, or depressing African stories about the recent wars and its effects on the children.
And due to the Katrina, my library lost a lot of books and is still in recovery mode and a lot of books are still not available. So, I was lucky to find The Icarus Girl by Helen Oyeyemi. A girl (I suspect that she has austism) of Nigerian-English descent goes with her parents to Nigeria and encounters a strange girl in her grandfather's compound.
The novel interweaves a Nigerian legend of doubles, so that's very interesting. I just started it and wish that I could stay home to read it.
I decided to join another challenge to motivate me to read my BIG books. Here is my list.
I also have a stack of magazines to read, but I'll do that on a rainy day.
I am bit bummed out about the fire at Camden Market in London. I went there last year and caught a tour boat to see the locks and visit the neighborhood. There are a lot of small businesses there; in fact, I bought my souveniers there. I don't know the extent of the damage; I wonder how much help the small businesses will get to restart them.
Thursday, February 07, 2008
Books - Book Review - Frenchmen, Desire, Good Children and other streets of New Orleans - John Chase
This is my first book for the Hometown Challenge.
John Chase drew political cartoons for a New Orleans newspaper that no longer exists. He also drew a mural of the history of New Orleans that you can still see when you check out books at the Main Branch of the New Orleans Library.
The first edition was written in 1949, and it is not politically correct. The terms like "red skins" was never removed from later editions, including the version that I have. So, be prepared for this.
No only do you learn the origins of the name of several streets, you also learn how different parts of the city were developed. The names of several developers also became street names, and it's fun to read how their neighborhoods came about.
This book will be of interest to natives of New Orleans and anyone who has visited here and was intrigued by the quirky names and directions that the streets take.
The most interesting fact for me to find out is that when streets take strange turns, it's probably the boundary of two former plantations. When I drive to the Uptown Whole Food on Camp St, I have to take a left turn, drive a bit on Joseph St, and then get on Camp again. Now the mystery of this weird path is revealed! (See map here to see what I am talking about.)
Chase also talks about the nearby suburbs and their name origins. Gretna was the most interesting to me. I saw the name Gretna Green last spring, on my trip from Wigtown to Manchester; I kept wondering whether that was where the name of my Gretna came from. And I was half right.
A comedy called Gretna Green or a trip to Scotland, was very popular from 1829 to about 1841. It is possible, but it hasn't been proved 100%, that the name for my Gretna came from here.
Each chapter begins with a a cartoon by Chase to summarize what you will read.
This book will not interest everyone, but it was informative for me to read it.
Wednesday, February 06, 2008
This short novel recounts the ancient story of Buddha and Angulimala, a murderer who terrorizes a province. Mr. Kumar retells this tale to make it applicable to our times.
When Buddha first meets Angulimala, Buddha is not afraid of him, and Buddha takes the time to have an actual conversation with him to understand him.
“The rich are cruel to the poor. The high castes are vicious and deceitful to the lower castes. Why should I love them? I will not stop until I have killed them all.”
Buddha replies, “ Angulimala, I know you have suffered at the hands of the higher caste, the rich and powerful. There is cruelty in the world but cruelty cannot be dissolved by cruelty, oppression cannot be ended by oppression. Fire cannot be put out with more fire. Try to overcome cruelty with compassion, hatred with love, and injustice with forgiveness. Stop traveling on the road of hatred and violence. This is true stopping. Stopping leads to calming, calming to resting, resting to healing; healing of self as well as healing of others…Happiness is born of kindness. When you are kind you are happy and when you are happy you are kind.”
This short work is powerful. You learn about another culture’s stories and see the common thread that runs in all stories of all civilizations.
The true stopping resonates with me. During my recovery of my foot surgery, I really had to stop. If I wanted to recover, I had to be still. It was hard, because I like to do many things. However, I learned the value of stillness. I took advantage to read more books and enjoy all the words more.
This story also tells us of how we can control certain portions of our lives. There are some aspects that we can’t control, but what we can control will determine how we live our lives. Being mean might let you win, but will you be happy?
If you know a bully and the bully wants to change, reading this work may help.
Tuesday, February 05, 2008
In early January, I finally gave in to my need to buy new books. I looked at the Hesperus catalog and then contacted the US distributor, IPG to order my books.
Some of the books that I saw in the catalog are not yet available on this continent, so I received only 2, Lady Susan by Jane Austen and Somebody's Luggage by Charles Dickens. Michelle of IPG was nice enough to tell me that the backordered books will be sent ASAP! So, I will have nice treats coming in the next few months.
These are the most durable paperbacks that I have ever had. Not only is the nice paper glued on snuggly, but it's also stitched in.
Ellie of Hesperus wrote to me that the press doesn't have a store in London, in which customers can come in (like at Persephone), but she recommended that I visit Mr. B's Emporium of
Reading Delights in Bath, England. That bookstore has displays of Hesperus books. So, if I ever go back back to England, I will go this Mr. B's.
Monday, February 04, 2008
Red Scarf Project and received a lovely thank-you card!
So, I am starting my scarves for this year.
The one on the left is blue wool that is not smooth(Twirl from Knitpicks.com) with a soft fluffy one, called .Suri, which is an alpaca yarn, also from Knitpicks.com) I am making it with size 11 circular needles.
The other one I actually started in September 2007, but I knew that I wouldn't be done by October 2007, so I hope to finish them by this year.
It's made of several colors, with each yarn rolled into bobbins to make it easier to work with. I am using size 5 needles and stitch markers, so I don't lose the count. I was dropping (losing) stitches before I used used the markers. It's made of wool and cotton yarns. I just don't feel like concentrating right now, but I will start on it soon.
Sunday, February 03, 2008
This week's theme is Blanket.
I covered up a library card pocket with various scraps and did a simple weave (with glue) to create a patchwork blanket.
Layer 1 - thin fabric - stamped - with machine embroidery already on fabric
Layer 2 - color writing from the 19th century
Layer 3 - UK map
Layer 4 - picture from a clothing catalog
Layer 5 - soap covering
Layer 6 - inside of Avon Bohemia perfume box
Horizontal Layer - stamps on watercolor paper.
I inserted two pictures (that I bought in Dallas or Plano, Texas antique marts).
The first is the lady on the moon. She looks like she is having fun.
(P.S. The second picture didn't make it on my original post. But it's here now.)
The second is a group sitting on a fence. But, since the pocket cut off the fence, it looks naughty.