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29 May 2010 @ 10:25 am
"I know this sky, its shades of overlapping blue. I've memorized its patterns, the wispps of the northern lights. From here, I can't see the colors in the aurora borealis, only the white funnels against the night.
I know the crab apple trees, the weeping willows, the Manitoba maple trees. I know the layout of streets, the flow of the Winnipeg River, the rustle of bulrushes in summer. I know the Canadian geese, the blueberries, the shapes of moss and lichen, the sour-sweet taste of rhubarb."

From "Maya Running" by Anjali Banerjee.
18 March 2010 @ 10:04 pm
Still Thoreau, but this time from Walden.

Men esteem truth remote, in the outskirts of the system, behind the farthest star, before Adam and after the last man. In eternity there is indeed something true and sublime. But all these times and places and occasions are now and here.

A written word is the choicest of relics. it is something at once more intimate with us and more universal than any other work of art. It is the work of art nearest to life itself. It may be translated into every language, and not only be read but actually breathed from all human lips; - not be represented on canvas or in marble only, but be carved out of the breath of life itself.

I rejoice that there are owls. Let them do the idiotic and maniacal hooting for men. It is a sound admirably suited to swamps and twilight woods which no day illustrates, suggesting a vast and undeveloped nature which men have not recognized. They represent the stark twilight and unsatisfied thoughts which all have.
17 March 2010 @ 07:10 am
More quotes from Consciousness in Concord - one of Thoreau's journals.

"I had two friends. The one offered me friendship on such terms that I could not accept it, without a sense of degradation. He would not meet me on equal terms, but only be to some extent my patron. He would not come to see me, but was hurt if I did not visit him. He would nnot readily accept a favor, but would gladly confer one. He treated me with ceremony occasionally, though he could be simple and downright sometimes; ...."

I stood by the river today, considering the forms of the elms reflected in the water. For every oak and birch, too, growing on the hilltop, as well as for elms and willows, there is a graceful ethereal tree making down from the roots, as it were the original idea of the tree...

To my friend I write a letter, & from him I get a letter. It is a spiritual gift worthy of him to give & of me to receive. It profanes nobody. In these warm lines the heart will trust itself as it will not to the tongue...

Methink I hear the clarion sound, and the clang of corselet and buckler from many a silent hamelt of the soul. The morning gun has long since sounded, and we are not yet at our posts.

I should wither and dry up if it were not for lakes and rivers.

The dead tree still stands erect without shame or offence amidst its green brethren, the most picturesque object in the wood. The painter puts it into the foreground of his picture, for in death it is still remembered.
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12 March 2010 @ 08:42 am
These people seem like my kind of people:

Reading addiction all in the family for Hutt libraries' biggest borrowers

That's an impressive total of books!
04 March 2010 @ 08:15 am
I love reading books that make me want to read other books. Madeleine L'Engle is like that, a bit, though more than books she makes me want to listen to the classical music that she mentions in her book.

Recently, I've been reading Dorothy Butler - the second part to her autobiography ("All This and a Bookshop Too" - of course, I did read the first part "There Was a Time" first), which includes the trials and triumphs of opening a bookstore.

The bit I want to quote, though, is an echo of what I noticed in early Spring in the eastern United States, and in Winter in Paris and the area we visited in Southern France, particularly around the Rhône:

I was struck by the beauty of the huge bare trees, towering over the houses which were all two or three storeys high. Later, people kept saying, 'Wait until the trees are all in leaf!' and I looked forward tot his; but the branches were delicate in a way no New Zealand trees are. They seemed to form a fretwork, through which the pale-grey sky had a sad beauty. I did look forward to seeing the trees in leaf, but I was glad I had seen them bare too.

She mentions so many books that had a part in my growing up, books set in England and the US (because there weren't a lot of NZ authors publishing), and which populated my belief in universal myths of children's literature - that arrowheads can be found in gardens, and that wandering around the countryside you can find roman roads.
21 December 2009 @ 05:57 pm
Okay, whose bright idea was it to buy people round plates for Christmas? They're devilishly hard to wrap.

However, also on that note, whose idea was it to buy STARFISH SHAPED plates for people for Christmas? They're even HARDER to wrap!!!

Squares and rectangles and boxes are oh so much easier!
07 December 2009 @ 06:38 am
Days until Christmas: 17
Days since last mailing date to "Rest of the World": 7
Gifts wrapped: 11
Gifts given: 11
Gifts sent: 8
Gifts addressed: 8 (all sent)
Gifts purchsed: many
Parts of gifts purchased but not completely assembled: many
Fully assembled gifts: 5
Christmas cards sent: 0
Christmas cards received: 0
Christmas decorations up: 6, all by my desk at work.
Carols CDs listened to: 8
03 December 2009 @ 08:01 am
I don't know what it is about this time of year - though it's possibly the whole "Summer is coming!" thing - but I keep wanting to break out into song. I'm not usually like this, but sometimes....

It's also due to the Christmas time of year, I think. I vaguely remember a very summery christmas song, only I don't remember any of the words of it and I used to know it by heart. I also used to know which order the verses and lines in Little Drummer Boy went, but I keep stuffing that up these days.

Two and a half more weeks of work to go this year. Yikes!
Current Mood: chipperchipper
10 November 2009 @ 10:13 am
I'm listening to an audio book of "Drawing Lessons", by Tracy Mack. Some time in the long distant past I'm sure I read the book - I don't remember when, but a lot of the story rings bells for me.

But right now, the odd part isn't that I only half remember the story, from a long time ago. The odd part is that the main character is Rory, and her friend is dating a guy called Dean.

It also reminds me more than a little of Donna Jo Napoli's "Changing Tunes".

Gilmore Girls, anyone?
14 September 2009 @ 11:37 am
One of my colleagues just came back from a month's holiday - in Canada. She brought back cookies for all of us.

So ... WHY did none of my canadian friends tell me about these absolutely wonderful Maple Leaf cookies with real maple syrup in the icing, I ask you?

Were you trying to save me from myself?
Current Mood: ecstatici want MORE!
03 August 2009 @ 06:51 am
on Saturday I went to Variety's Monster Book Fair, and found myself trawling through the children's section (as is my usual at bookstores and libraries). What struck me about this one was the books it contained - and what I collected as I trawled through it.

Oh, it contained the bright white pages and colourful spines that denote a book published in the last decade or so. Scholastic with it's bright red icon, page edges crisp and glowing in white. But also it contained volumes I've never seen or read, or only seen when I was younger and not thought of since. Spines faded from years in the sun, pages browned with age and reading. Copyright dates in the 40s, reprinted in the 60s, covers of dark green and simple drawings. Books akin to those I last saw on my school library shelves in the 80s and early 90s.

Simple stories, where all comes right inn the end, however badly they go in the beginning. Bullies getting their comeuppance, though not through revenge. And I pulled title after title from the rows of books on the table, and since then I've dived straight into some of these stories, as if I've always read them. Some are comfort books for me, memories of lazy hazy days of summer, when my world seemed to be brighter than it is now. School days when I borrowed a book every day at lunch time, and returned it the next lunchtime. Refreshing as sunshine and birdsong and spring blossom at the tail end of winter.

So, on Sunday night, I read a book until midnight. It wasn't the latest thriller, or gilt covered bestseller, or the latest instalment in a favourite author's repetoire. It wasn't a mystery I needed to solve, or a space battle needing winning, or full of the thrill of the chase. No, I couldn't put it down becausse it was a book of childhood - one that tugs at sweeter heartstrings than those of sorrow or loss, than those that bring me to tears. A tale of friends and dreams and childhood and gifts with no repayment sought, and luck and a thrift our world doesn't seem to like to remember.

I don't think the particular title or author matters here.

Suffice to say, I'm glad I went to the book fair, and sad I hadn't before. And next year, if at all possible, I'll be there. Trawlling through the volumes that marked my childhood.
30 July 2009 @ 08:00 am
You know how, some days, everything just compounds and piles on you? Until you get to the stage where you're frustrated and feeling hemmed in and have used up your entire store of patience for the day? It always gets like that for me during the last few shopping days before christmas.

It doesn't often get like that for me by 8am. But, today....

At the bus stop I'm currently catching the bus there is meant to be a bus at 20 past, 25 past, and half past. This morning there was one at 7.19 (I missed it), another at 7.20 (which I also missed) ... and THREE at 7.32. It's been doing this for a week or longer. You'd think by now I'd manage to get myself out of the house and to the bus stop in time for the 20 past bus, but ... No. It doesn't seem to be happening. And today it frustrated me.

Then, on the bus I did get on, the stop before mine it pulled in at an angle in front of another bus, and the driver beeped at the one in front to let him further in or out or something. Okay, fair enough. EXCEPT that at the stop I get off at, another bus pulled in front of mine at an angle, and after all the passengers had gotten off he beeped and beeped and beeped for the bus in front of him to let him out. Completely forgetting that two minutes ago he'd been doing exactly the same thing.

*parp!* *parp!* *parp!*

And the sound was so blaring and noisy and so NOT a morning sound that it just closed me in on myself some more.

It's not going to be a good day if I've lost my patience stock before 8am...
01 July 2009 @ 07:55 am
Happy Birthday Canada!!

Happy Citizenship Day caragana_leaves's mom!

14 June 2009 @ 09:05 pm
Generally speaking, one should not remember at 8.30pm that one is meant to make brownies for morning tea for work tomorrow, or that one has not yet eaten dinner.


Brownies are now in the oven, dinner is in the microwave. And I'll probably end up watching the first half of Bones on the "+1" channel, after finishing the second half. I have been listening to the first half, just not watching it. And it's a little freaky - not surprising for a season final, I suppose.

Today has been productive, at any rate.
12 June 2009 @ 08:45 am
wenzel will probably be amused at this.

This week purple is obviously the "in" colour in our office spaces. One day this week there were I think five of us wearing at least some purple - plus several others around the building, including one of the presenters. Today there are two or three, plus one of the presenters.

Yesterday it was red - half the office had at least some red, and three were wearing solid red tops. But definitely, this week, Purple is the color to be.
29 April 2009 @ 06:33 am
In preparation for going to see the "Monet and the Impressionists" Exhibition in a week and a half, I borrowed the Exhibition catalogue from my library and read it.

Yes, I'm a geek.

From Andre Masson's "Monet the founder" Verve, vol 7, nos 27-28, 1952:

"Monet's work is one of the great turning points of painting, a commotion, the primacy of light (or, if you prefer, of colour-light). He spoke of the flash, the flare, the flame of Bordighera: 'Here everything is pigeon-breat and brandy-flame'. These few words sufficed to commend the place. Sun-loving, he saw luminosity everywhere, even in shadow, and there was nothing black in the festival he brought along with him, not even coal. His logic required it thus, his poetic also - and, though his luminist impulse affected all his companions, none followed him absolutely in this respect.

He was a painter of appearances (not a theologian), in tune with his vision of reality, of which he gave a lyrical, enthusiastic account. He accpeted the flight of time, the ephemeral. hee had a new way of seeing, feeling, loving nature. Perhaps he went too far in letting others say that he was satisfied with recording colour-sensatins, 'letting the eye take its coourse'. the truth is that he knew better than anyone how to 'organise his sensations', how to choose a representative colour from the flood of infinite iridescence.

It must be emphasised: this atmospheric envoelopment was recreated at the artist's initiative. He didn't abandon himself to a passivity of sight. Nature offered him a profusion of rapports which he simplified into a set of principal accords: here imaginiation exercised its rights.

There was no a priori form: based on the power of light, the exaltation of colour caused a negation of contours (or limits). The completed work found its balance through the fusion of elements.

Absense of formal limitation led to a fantastic inventiveness where touch was concerned. Touch distinguished the various aspects of the painting (the main body of it being atmosphere) - a touch of many accents: crisscrossed, ruffled, speckled. you have to see it in close-up - what a frenzy!"


From Lilla Cabot Perry "Reminiscences of Claude Monet from 1889 to 1909. The American Magazine of Art, vol 18, no 3, March 1927, pp119-25

"I remember him once saying to me:
'When you go out to paint, try to forget what objects you have before you, a tree, a house, a field or whatever. Merely think, here is a little square of blue, here an oblong of pink, here a streak of yellow, and paint it just as it looks to you, the exact colour and shape, until it gives your own naive impression of the scene before you.'

He said he wished he had been born blind and then had suddenlyy gained his sight so that he could have begun to paint in this way without knnowing what the objects were that he saw before him. He held that the first real look at the motif was likely to be the truest and most unprejudiced one, and said that the first painting should cover as much of the canvas as possible, no matter how roughly, so as to determine at the outset the tonality of the whole. As an illustration of this, he brought out a canvas which he had painted only once; it was covered with strokes about an inch apart and a quarter of an inch thick, out to the very edge of the canvas. Then he took out another on which he had painted twice, the strokes were nearer together and the subject began to emerge more clearly.

Monet's philosophy of painting was to paint what you really see, not what you think you ought to see; not the object isolated as in a test tube, but the object enveloped in sunlight and atmosphere, with the blue dome of heaven reflected in the shadows."
05 April 2009 @ 05:24 pm
I went to The Bridge Project's production of Tom Stoppard's adaptation of Anton Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard today. It was one of those productions that just get you thinking ... and keep you thinking.

I was glad I'd read the play yesterday, even though it didn't make it all perfectly clear to me. I read the NY Times' review last night, which gave me a few ideas about what the production I was about to see. But such things will never take the place of actually attending.

Some moments I wasn't entirely sure what made them funny, only they were.

I sat next to three older women, who had been to My Fair Lady yesterday. During the interval we discussed what we thought of the show thus far, and varying ways of interpreting some of the comments earlier. Including the misquoted Hamlet.

One of the things that struck me was the austerity of colour. It's the second production in a month that I've seen with the same sort of colour scheme in costume and scenery. I suppose this is hardly surprising given that both productions were set in the same sort of era - though one was set in an era of this world and the other in an era of a world none of us know.

Even during the party scenes, when some of guests and family are decked out in jewel colours and jewels themselves, with glittering chandelier and ornate parlour furniture. Flickering candlelight in elaborate arrangements, the magic of illusion, the music and laughter and gaiety echoing back from the room off stage... a dream attempting to banish the impending result of the auction - which no one but Varya wishes to accept the response.

I loved Varya, the adopted daughter (or so the programme says) who appears to be appreciated by no one - and the only one who truly seems to appreciate the idiocy of spending money like it was a commodity, when their lives are about to descend into ruin around them. She moves with a purpose, always, giant ring of keys jingling at her belt. And yet, with Anya, she is soft and gentle and loving. And when the news comes of who now owns their ancestral home, she removes the keys from her belt, holds them in her hands. I wondered, then, would she pass them to Lopakhin, whom everyone believes she will one day marry. Instead, after a few moments of indecision, she throws them to the floor at his feet, and marches out. The inability of so many to understand was just ... unbelievable. Makes me wonder how much this sort of story will parallel other, less fictional, stories in this global climate.

Everyone believes, and speaks incessantly of, the upcoming nuptials of Varya and Lopakhin. She hates the talk of it, as he has never asked her, never spoken to her in such a way. Does not even know she exists. At the very end, when her mother suggests he propose, he begins, but ... he cannot continue. He stumbles over it, and speaks of nothings - something so many of us can understand.

When the lights go down, after a final sad scene with Firs, the audience erupts into applause, that doesn't diminish until after the lights come up and we have to admit that it is all over. I could not help but reflect on such applause, contrasting it against the applause for The Arrival a few weeks ago. This play got such applause and earned it. That show, it didn't get the audience that it deserved, and consequently (though it earned as much as this one did) not the applause. I hope that one day it comes back, that one day The Arrival gets such acclaim and applause. But for now, The Cherry Orchard was as magnificent as I could have hoped it to be.

I think I learned something today. I'm glad I went. And now, I think, I shall re-read the play I read only yesterday. Somehow I think my reading of it will be different this time around.
Current Mood: bouncyamazed
04 April 2009 @ 04:52 pm
"Dear, honored bookcase, I salute thy existence, which for over one hundred years has served the glorious ideals of goodness and justice; thy silent appeal to fruitful endeavor, unflagging in the course of a hundred years, tearfully sustaining through generations of our family, courage and faith in a better future, annd fostering in us ideals of goodneess and social consciousness..."

"All Russia is our orchard. .It is a great and beautiful land, and there are many wonderful places in it.
Just think, Anya: your grandfather, your great-grandfather, and all your ancestors were serf-owners, possessors of living souls. Don't you see that from every cherry tree, from every leaf and trunk, human beings are peering out at you? Don't you hear their voices? To possess living souls--that has corrupted all of you, those who lived before and you who are living now, so that your mother, you, your uncle, no longer perceive that you are living in debt, at someone else's expense, at the expense of those whom you wouldn't allow to cross your threshold ... We are at least two hundred years behind the times, we have as yet absolutely nothing, we have no definite attitude toward the past, we only philosophize, complain of boredom, or drink vodka. Yet it's quite clear that to begin to live we must first atone for the past, be done with it, and we can atone for it only by suffering, only by extraordinary, unceasing labor. Understand this, Anya."

From "The Cherry Orchard", by Anton Chekhov
17 March 2009 @ 12:04 pm
I have a very odd request...

Do you know where to find the websites that let you cheat at writing an essay - preferably one that gives you one with mistakes in it and then the polished version as well?

Or, really, any other cheating websites?

What about a website that helps catch cheating?

(My mother works at a high school, and they suspect someone of cheating.)


(Comments screened to protect the innocent.)