Things to catch up on…

Wow.

I was down for the count since the 1st with the lovely gift of the yucks.  I don’t recommend it.

What’s still on the nightstand

  • The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien
  • Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne
  •  The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan

What’s outside

002

003

006
I’m now aware the window needs a good scrub.

What’s going on today

Mmmmm...pie.
Mmmmm…pie.

OK.  It’s a cheaty cherry pie from Marie Callender, but I’ve been sick and I want pie.

The Classics Club: Persuasion

This week I have spent time outside lounging on a blanket under a tree in the backyard reading.  It has been wonderful.  I used to do this in high school, but had given it up for reading in bed or in a chair.  But there is just nothing that can compare to the bird song and the breeze in the leaves and a good Austen novel.  It’s awesome…and very summery.

I’ve read this book several times and adore it.  If you want summertime reading without too much effort, this is it!

What is there to recommend it?  Flouncy people with titles, dashing sea captains (and an admiral!), silly girls, dumb boys, social climbers, and a lost love…

And, after all, isn’t it the dream of every girl that the boy she loves will stop being an idiot and express how he feels so they can get on with it…?

What I dislike:  Anne’s tendency to shut her mouth and stay in the background.  Granted, I am aware this was written when women were expected to be genteel and operate within the social hierarchy, but Anne is such a meek, closed thing.  She takes all the crap everyone throws at her.  Even the meekest person will reach the end of the line and snap at something, but never Anne.  Seriously, she should be canonized…she is that saintly.

“…nor could she help fearing, on more serious reflection, that, like many other great moralists and preachers, she had been eloquent on a point in which her own conduct would ill bear examination.” (last lines of Chapter 11, Vol. 1)

Yep.  Goody-goody.

Even though Anne is so mild-mannered, it doesn’t mean that she doesn’t deserve love.  Perhaps the dashing Captain Frederick Wentworth can pull her out of her shell?

The real thing to think about is how we are influenced by those around us–whether by action or by suggestion–and if it is to our benefit or detriment.  Do those offering advice have our best interests at heart?  I think about this every time I read this book because I do not for the life of me understand Lady Russell.  I know she is much like a surrogate mother for Anne and therefore her opinions carry significant weight; however, I also find her quite spiteful and judgmental of all things.  For example, this is said of her:  “Lady Russell had only to listen composedly, and wish them happy; but internally her heart revelled in angry pleasure, in pleased contempt, that the man who at twenty-three had seemed to understand somewhat of the value of an Anne Elliot, should, eight years afterwards, be charmed by a Lousia Musgrove.” (Chapter 1, Vol. 2)  How bitchy!  She separates Anne and Frederick when they were younger, but when they are back together she reforms her opinions and acts “as a mother to the man who was securing the happiness” of Anne (Ch 12, Vol. 2).  Can a leopard change its spots so easily?  What other mischief might this woman cause?  For what interests does she act?  It seems as if she tries to bend the world to her vision, to her will, without caring about the lives of the other people involved in her meddling.  Will she not continue to do so?

The end.  Sometimes–depending on why I am reading the novel–it feels like there is a little something missing at the end.  Everything just tumbles into place without any kind of adjustment for the happy couple or their friends and family; it is all too perfect…even for a novel.  A “happily ever after” kind of ending when there was little threat of competition or alternate outcome.  But if you are reading (and have been sucked in by the romance) chances are that this won’t even register on the radar.  🙂

So, go out and grab Persuasion.  Flop down under a shady tree and read away an afternoon…

Trouble so early…

Usually I have no problem writing for Nanowrimo, but that does not seem to be the case for my experience for Camp Nanowrimo.  I am stymied by the weather and allergies and the desire to do everything else!

I couldn’t manage my 1700 words yesterday; I ended up about 400 short.  It was all about the apathy yesterday–bad, bad me!

The stat marker had 6666 words listed as the benchmark for Day 4.  Instead of doing my usual slog at the computer, I went outside with a notebook and pen to write by hand.  It did wonders for my mind and brought new life to the story.  I didn’t feel as pent up as I do sitting in an office watching the birds and flowers from the window…  I managed 2151 words today and have crossed the writing threshold at 6737.

Maybe if I try speed writing first thing in the morning I won’t feel so confined and pressured by the nice weather…

 

Peonies!

I absolutely adore peonies–they are so beautiful.  I would have them everywhere if it weren’t for the ants.  That was the one thing my mother impressed on me about peonies:  plant them away from the house because of the ants.

Here are the two bushes of white peonies I currently have:

And here are two gorgeous red peonies I just bought:

I don’t think they’ll bloom this year, but they will be stunning next spring.  I am very excited!

Ok.  I am off to plant some salvia and speedwell.  But to tide you over…have a bearded iris:

Current Alternates List

I wanted to post my current alternate list.  It is quite likely that several of them will start popping up to replace or augment my Classics Club selections…

  • Aldous Huxley.  Brave New World (1932)
  • Ann Radcliffe.  The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794), The Romance of the Forest (1791)
  • Anthony Trollope.  Can You Forgive Her? (1865)
  • Arthur Conan Doyle.  The Lost World (1912), The Complete Sherlock Holmes, Vol. 1 (1927), The Complete Sherlock Holmes, Vol. 2 (1930)
  • Ayn Rand.  The Fountainhead* (1943), Atlas Shrugged (1957)
  • Benjamin Constant.  Adolphe (1816)
  • Betty Smith.  A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1943)
  • Blaise Pascal.  Pensées (1654)
  • Bram Stoker.  Dracula (1897)
  • Carson McCullers.  The Heart is a Lonely Hunter (1940)
  • Charles Dickens.  Our Mutual Friend (1865), Barnaby Rudge (1841), Little Dorrit (1857)
  • Charlotte Brontë.  The Professor (1857), Shirley (1849)
  • Chaucer.  Troilus and Criseyde (ca. 1380), The Canterbury Tales* (1390)
  • Chrétien de Troyes.  Arthurian Romances* (12th century)
  • Christine de Pizan.  The Book of the City of Ladies (1405)
  • Christopher Marlowe.  The Complete Plays (16th century, compiled)
  • Dante.  The Divine Comedy* (1321)
  • Dashiell Hammett.  The Maltese Falcon (1930), The Thin Man (1932)
  • Edith Wharton.  The House of Mirth (1905)
  • Edmund Spenser.  The Faerie Queene (1590)
  • Elizabeth Gaskell.  Mary Barton (1848), North and South (1855), Wives and Daughters (1866), Cranford (1851)
  • EM Forster.  A Passage to India (1924), A Room with a View (1908)
  • Émile Zola.  Nana (1880)
  • Emmuska Orczy.  The Scarlet Pimpernel (1903)
  • F. Scott Fitzgerald.  The Great Gatsby* (1926), The Beautiful and the Damned (1922)
  • Fanny Burney.  Evelina (1778), Camilla (1796)
  • Francis Bacon.  The Essays (1597)
  • François Rabelais.  Gargantua and Pantagruel (1532)
  • Fyodor Dostoyevsky.  Crime and Punishment* (1866)
  • Gabriel Garcia Marquez.  One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967)
  • Geoffrey of Monmouth.  The History of the Kings of Britain (1138)
  • George du Maurier.  Trilby (1893)
  • George Orwell.  Animal Farm (1945), 1984 (1949)
  • Giovanni Boccaccio.  The Decameron (1351)
  • Gustave Flaubert.  Salammbô (1862)
  • H. Rider Haggard.  King Solomon’s Mines (1885)
  • Harper Lee.  To Kill a Mockingbird (1961)
  • Henry David Thoreau.  Collected Essays and Poems (19th century, compiled)
  • Henry Fielding.  The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling (1749)
  • Herodotus.  The Histories (429 BC)
  • HG Wells.  The Time Machine (1895)
  • James Fenimore Cooper.  The Last of the Mohicans (1826)
  • JD Salinger.  The Catcher in the Rye (1951)
  • John Ford.  ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore and Other Plays (17th century, compiled)
  • John Kennedy Toole.  A Confederacy of Dunces (1980)
  • John Webster.  The Duchess of Malfi and Other Plays (17th century, compiled)
  • Jules Verne.  Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (1870), Around the World in 80 Days (1872), Journey to the Center of the Earth (1864)
  • Laurence Sterne.  The Life and Opinions of Tristam Shandy, Gentleman (1759)
  • Leo Tolstoy.  Anna Karenina (1875)
  • Ludovico Ariosto.  Orlando Furioso (1516)
  • Margery Kempe.  The Book of Margery Kempe (1438)
  • Marguerite de Navarre.  The Heptameron (1558)
  • Maria Edgeworth.  Castle Rackrent (1800), Belinda (1801)
  • Marie de France.  The Lais of Marie de France (1160)
  • Mary Elizabeth Braddon.  Lady Audley’s Secret (1862)
  • Mary Shelley.  The Last Man (1826), Frankenstein (1818)
  • Mary Wollstonecraft.  A Vindication of the Rights of Woman* (1792)
  • Miguel de Cervantes.  Don Quixote (1605)
  • Nathaniel Hawthorne.  The Scarlet Letter (1850)
  • Oliver Goldsmith.  The Vicar of Wakefield (1766)
  • Oscar Wilde.  The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890)
  • Pierre Abélard.  The Letters of Abélard and Heloise (1139), The Story of my Misfortunes (1135)
  • Pierre de Laclos.  Les Liasons Dangereuses (1782)
  • Plato.  The Republic (380 BC)
  • Rafael Sabatini.  Scaramouche (1921)
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson.  Essays and Lectures (19th century, compiled)
  • Raymond Chandler. The Big Sleep (1939)
  • RD Blackmore.  Lorna Doone: a Romance of Exmoor (1869)
  • Samuel Pepys.  The Diary of Samuel Pepys (1825)
  • Sebastian Brant.  The Ship of Fools (1494)
  • Sophocles.  Oedipus Rex (429 BC), Antigone (422 BC)
  • Thomas Hardy.  Jude the Obscure (1895), The Woodlanders (1887)
  • Thomas More.  Utopia (1516)
  • Truman Capote.  In Cold Blood (1965)
  • Unknown.  Beowulf* (ca. 10th century)
  • Unknown.  The Nibelungenlied* (ca. 12th century)
  • Unknown.  The Saga of the Volsungs (1290)
  • Upton Sinclair.  The Jungle (1906)
  • Vladimir Nabokov.  Lolita (1955)
  • Wilkie Collins.  The Woman in White (1859), The Moonstone (1868), Armadale (1866)
  • William Golding.  Lord of the Flies (1954)
  • William Langland.  Piers Plowman (1360)
  • William Makepeace Thackeray.  Vanity Fair (1848)
  • William Shakespeare.  The Norton Shakespeare (1623, compiled)

So many yummie books!

Feeling guilty over my spring fever

Ok.  Since I left you all in limbo earlier…

Enjoy some peaceful spring evening pictures.  [Keep in mind this is MARCH and I live in an area that should mostly still be having snow showers and freezes until late April or early May.]

I hope you enjoyed my beautiful magnolia tree.  Feel the love…

Gardening Geeks Unite!

Ok.  I’m not a spectacular gardener by any stretch of the imagination, but there are people who are–and they often share what they know!  Your Garden Show is a social networking site for gardeners.  It is awesome with lots of very helpful information on gardening know-how!

They are running a contest this year called Grow it Forward.  Basically you keep tabs on your garden and make yourself all popular and you get to win cool prizes!  But behind the contest, the point is to gather data about growth rates and harvest times in different regions for all kinds of plants and veggies to help future gardeners.

There are also citizen science programs you can participate in to help gather data for researchers:  pollination, allergens, seasons.  I think I might try to do The Great Sunflower Project to help track bees this summer.  I always seem to have a lot of honeybees in the yard–even without a stellar garden.  There has to be something here they like…but I’ll give them Lemon Queen Sunflowers if that’s what the project calls for (there are a few other options as well).

So I’m going to see if I can do a better garden than last year–anything has to be better!  Join me and eat tons of good, fresh food.

Geez, Louise!

I can’t believe it is above 80 today!  And it is supposed to be in the mid to upper 70s until the end of next week.  Holy June, Batman!  Normally we are hovering in the low 40s–and NO ONE is mowing their lawn.

Apparently that is not the case this year.

I planted my tomatoes and peppers in their little peat cups this afternoon and left them outside to soak up the wonderful sun.  I also started some pumpkin seeds, but I don’t know if they will take to being “started” or if I just have to plant them in the ground.  I thought I’d test that out.

Sometimes I forget how warm the south side of my house is.  I started out in a long sleeve shirt and ended up in a tank top.  I swear the south side of my house could give lessons on being hot-as-hell.  It does, however, make a spectacular place to grow lavender.  [And ditch lillies, but they grow everywhere.]

I don’t have the urge to pull out the lawn mower quite yet, but we’ve had plenty of rain and humid weather and everything else is sprouting up fast.  It won’t be long–early April, I suspect–when I will have to suck it up like a good little buttercup and mow.

Tomorrow, I may tackle the garden and the burn pile.