Monday, February 27, 2017

Secret Garden by Johanna Basford

By Jahanna Basford  Image

While the past 18 months has been somewhat marred by an underlying pain and discomfort, I can see light in the future. I've had my hip replacement surgery, with an awesome doctor, and while still early days of recovery, I'm feeling very hopeful. Hopefully this will manage the arthritis, and free up my mobility, and see me back doing things I love to do (and more) in the new few months. 

In the meantime, I'm on 6 weeks recovery, and a little house bound.. what does one outdoorsy girl do when slowed down.... colouring in. I know this was all the craze about 2-3 years ago, but now is just the right time fore me. And I'm really enjoying it. 

When I knew I was going to have 6 weeks of work, which keeps my mind very active, and that I was going to take a break from my postvgraduate studies... i set myself a grand reading list... but had no idea that post operatively I wouldnt be able to concentrate. I cant even seem to get into a magazine or newspaper now. But this is perfect. 

And my other new adventure is listening to books. I choose my first audiobook from the classics. I dont recall ever reading this when I was a child, and felt sort of left out because, while I knew all the names of the little women, I actually didn't know the story. (I've decided I wont be officially reviewing this, as you've all read it,  and Im afraid my femeinist and modern views of christianity are quite different to those of Mrs March)... 

So, each day, in hospital and now at home, I've sat listening to little women, and coloured in. I felt like part of the family, joining in around the the fire, as Jo would write, and Beth would sew or knit, I'd be colouring in... and creating....

And when I was playing with my image to put on Instagram, I found that I could do this to my image... it is a fun way to pass the day.

Here is what has been said of secret garden, by this blogger...

There are other adult coloring books out there, but Secret Garden and its companion, Enchanted Forest, are probably the king and queen of the genre—in other words, something pretty special. When my book arrived, I was delighted to discover 96 pages of beautiful pen and ink drawings on thick, creamy paper. The drawings feature the flora and fauna of Basford’s home in rural Scotland. At the beginning of the book is a guide to creatures that are hidden within the detailed drawings. If you visit Artist Goes Outside The Lines With Coloring Books For Grown-Ups on the National Public Radio Web site, you can see some images from the book and listen to an interview of the author..

So, what this space, and see what is yet to come... I may even get some books read yet...

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

JLC 10 - book review - the housekeeper and the professor

Japanese literature challenge 10

I read The Housekeeper and the Professor for this years Japanese Literature Challenge.  

It was a while ago when I read it, so I just refreshed my memory by reading this review by Lonesomereader. This was such a good review I thought I'd share it here. I totally agree, this was a simple but elegant story, that captivated me and some what excited me. 

I was worried that I wouldn't have the concentration to focus on some of my choices for this years JLC (as I'm on some pain medications at the moment). But not to worry, this was lovely, and just right. 

The story is about a mathamatician who has suffered a brain injury and can not remember todays events. He still has all his mathamatical skills. His sister in law hires him a housekeeper to help keep him independent at home. After a string of housekeepers, this one stays. 

Im not into maths or science at all, but this engaged me into his love of numbers, just as the housekeeper was entranced. She introduced her son to the professor, and the three of them somehow seemed to bring out the best in each other. The young boy understood the professors needs in a way that surprises the reader but touches the soul. The professor, who by all accounts, was unable to buikd relationships due to his memory, became strongly connected to the boy in a truly endearing way. 

From a Japanese cultural perspective, this story upholds the values of respect and dignity for the individual and family name, the importance of being, and the significance of community - which stand out to me in many classic Japanese novels. Needless to say, I loved this book... would read it again. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!
I cant believe its 2017 (and soon to be February) ... how did that happen? 

These Parsley Flowers are my New Years icon. They are a representation of my summer garden. I know it's the turning of summer when the parsley flowers. They then symbolise the changing seasons in my life, as I stop and start reflecting on the new year. I have much to reflect on... health, study, career, relationships & learning better to live in the now....

I have wondered alot about how much I want to put here in my blog space about my big year ahead, but I came to the conclusion it's a pretty big thing, and I think it may affect my blog alot. So...

After a 12-18 month journey through lots of pain, and a myriad of therapuetic options, I'm now 3 weeks away from a hip replacement.. and I simply can't wait. So I apologize in advance for some absences...

After recovering from that, I have plans to return to study & so much more....

Very soon I'll be posting my reviews for the Japanese Literature Challenge- 3 book reviews to add and some podcasts. I will also post my review of january's summer activities, cos I really had a great time, despite managing pain.

I leave you with this image of the hopping mouse figurine from my girlfiends backyard... it reminds me to be cheeky!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Book of Tea: Kakuzo Okakura

I read this as part of my participation in the Japanese Literature Challenge, and really enjoyed it. As mentioned in the clip above, this was published at the turn of the 20th century, but regardless of its age, it was still relevant in today's times. I just wanted to share some quotes...

"Tea began as a medicine and grew into a beverage. In China, in the eighth century, it entered the realm of poetry as one of the polite amusements. The fifteenth century saw Japan ennoble it into a religion of aestheticism—Teaism......a cult founded on the adoration of the beautiful among the sordid facts of everyday existence."

"It is in the Japanese tea ceremony that we see the culmination of tea-ideals. Our successful resistance of the Mongol invasion in 1281 had enabled us to carry on the Sung movement so disastrously cut off in China itself through the nomadic inroad. Tea with us became more than an idealisation of the form of drinking; it is a religion of the art of life. The beverage grew to be an excuse for the worship of purity and refinement, a sacred function at which the host and guest joined to produce for that occasion the utmost beatitude of the mundane."

"A special contribution of Zen to Eastern thought was its recognition of the mundane as of equal importance with the spiritual. It held that in the great relation of things there was no distinction of small and great, an atom possessing equal possibilities with the universe. The seeker for perfection must discover in his own life the reflection of the inner light."

The whole ideal of Teaism is a result of this Zen conception of greatness in the smallest incidents of life. Taoism furnished the basis for aesthetic ideals, Zennism made them practical.

"The Taoist and Zen conception of perfection, however, was different. The dynamic nature of their philosophy laid more stress upon the process through which perfection was sought than upon perfection itself. True beauty could be discovered only by one who mentally completed the incomplete. The virility of life and art lay in its possibilities for growth. In the tea-room it is left for each guest in imagination to complete the total effect in relation to himself. Since Zennism has become the prevailing mode of thought, the art of the extreme Orient has purposefully avoided the symmetrical as expressing not only completion, but repetition"

"Thus they sought to regulate their daily life by the high standard of refinement which obtained in the tea-room. In all circumstances serenity of mind should be maintained, and conversation should be conducted as never to mar the harmony of the surroundings. The cut and color of the dress, the poise of the body, and the manner of walking could all be made expressions of artistic personality"

I really enjoyed this book, and also found links to free audio editions. Its 7 chapters focus on different elements of the art of tea, including schools of tea, Taoism & Zennism, the tea room, art, flowers & the tea masters. If you're interested in tea, rituals, and Japanese culture I recommend it.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The Spy : Review

Paulo coelho has written a plethora of great books. I've read enough of them to feel confident that picking up one of his books would be rewarding. I have enjoyed Coelho's spiritual and story lines. Brida stands out as one of my favourite "youth hostel" find. (That's a book you swap when your in a hostel)

Sadly, this one didn't join my list of good reads... Ally commented in my last post, that this disappointed her so much. Still I persisted... and now I can join Ally. This is a disappointment for the Coelho fan. Now I'm tempted to find another Coelho book to restore my faith. Any ideas?

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Summer Reading Plans

Yeh! It now feels like summer is really here. I've finished the first of four years in my Masters, and the Frangipani is blooming... thats a true sign of summer.. 

So, with no study on my mind, I have found my summertime reading (very ambitious for me)... along with these hard copies, Ive also got some on my Kindle, including 

I'm still committed to the Japanese Literature Challenge, and have already posted on my intentions for that here. I plan to read those books as well.... maybe a little ambitious... 

Ambitious or not, I'm certainly looking forward to the summer. I also have set myself the goal of getting to the beach or lake each week. I live 2km from the sea and 4 km from the lake, but year after year, I am embarrassed to say how little I get to the water. This summer I cant ride my bike or do long walks as I would like to, so swimming & kyaking will be my new thing. Im looking forward to those mini adventures. 

And of course, there's my gardening hopes. I'll post more on the garden soon. Recently I've found it a source of joy & strength to me, a place of solace and rejuvenation, and my gift. 

Comming soon...  book review of "the book of tea" by Okakura Kakuz┼Ź (February 14, 1862 – September 2, 1913) for the Japanese Literature Challenge. 
Newcastles working harbour

Monday, November 21, 2016

Time to prepare for exams

Last weekend I gave myself a brain break and went for a walk along my beach and went kyaking on my lake.  Had a lovely time..

Now its time to study..

I'll be back refreshed (and relieved) in a few weeks...