Saturday, February 12, 2011

Daybook, February 12, 2011

Outside: Simply beautiful. Sunny and 72 degrees

In the garden: Blueberries and strawberries are developing. Calla lillies and camellias are in bloom and the bird of paradise planted last summer has a couple of blooms that are radiant in the late afternoon sun.

At the feeder: Finches and more finches. White crowned sparrows, towhees and a couple of iridescent green hummingbirds that won't pause long enough to let me identify them.

In the kitchen: Counter tops rediscovered! Pumpkin bread that I've been wanting to bake since November.

On my music stand: Elgar Salut d'amor for prelude tomorrow morning at church. Beethoven string trios that need to be practiced with a metronome.

On my night stand: Two non-fiction works, that are wonderful but not catching my attention, and a stack of fiction.

On my mind: Finding joy in the most mundane parts of the week while I savor the time we are sharing as a family. My older teen boys are at a stage where they are fun to be around, and they are simply entertaining. This may be the last extended time we share as a nuclear family as the oldest will head off to college in the fall.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

January reading

My reading has gotten off to a very slow start, partly due to life, partly that I haven't had a page turner in my hands so far this year.

Terry Pratchett's Discworld series continues to be a staple of my audio book life. I read Thief of Time in January, with its riffs on quantum mechanics and string theory and time made it tie in quite nicely with all the Fringe episodes we've been watching. My current "car book", which is what I turn to when on the freeways, is Nightwatch. It is another Discworld time travel book but this time featuring my favorite character, Sam Vimes caught in the ol' Star Trek paradox of being stuck back in time but having to be careful to not change history.

Someone asked me where to start with the Discworld books, and I have to say I think the best starting place is Going Postal, a book about bringing the mail service back to life in the Discworld city of Ankh Morpork. It has all the best Discworld elements: terrific characters, very funny writing, and a terrific story that you want to finish. Discworld is, well, I'll let Terry Pratchett's cite explain what it is.

Bridge of Birds was the first book of the year for a virtual book club organized by a friend. What a delightful discovery! It is an epic fairy tale set in a "China that never was". The story follows the epic quest of Number 10 Ox and Li Kao who must find the cure for the children in a small village. It is a Chinese epic, rather than a Western one with the hero who discovers he has unknown skills and gifts. The elements of the story are all based in real Chinese myths and stories, which for me with my Chinese Studies background was so much fun. One thing or another would seem familiar, would niggle loose a memory from college classes, and I'd have to put the book down to research the Chinese word or story to refresh my memory. It is one I'm going to have to re-read in order to simply enjoy the story instead of treating it like a comprehensive exam.

I've been re-listening to Bill Bryson's At Home when I just need something to fill few minutes. It is as great the second time as was the first, and as it is so packed with information you pick up something new each time you listen (or read.)