Sunday Salon: Hobbies

Sunday Salon

This week I read Venetia by Georgette Heyer. I still need to start Gone with the Wind and catch up to my library books, but I’m too busy today to read. Argh.

I have been very busy with work, life and my other interests to read much lately. When I was a kid, I only had one major hobby, interest and activity (discounting the TV): reading. Since then, I have accumulated more hobbies in my life and while reading is still the top, things are competing with my time.

Here is just a small list of them: Reading/Books, Knitting, Spinning, Photography, Writing/this blog, TV and Movies, Yoga, Badminton, Fiddle/Violin and more. Yes, this week, I’ve taken up the violin again by going to fiddle lessons. Is this long term? Doubtful, but I am entertaining it for the short term. I like to keep myself busy, and as an introvert, I’m not super social especially since most of my friends don’t even live in this town anymore. Still, I have to divide time for my family and friends as well. Not to mention full time work (however insecure that is).

The yoga and badminton don’t take much time of my week. I’ll probably stop going to yoga in the winter, but reading, knitting and this blog take up a good amount of time. I haven’t had enough time to really spin so that’s dropped off.

Well, I’m glad to be keeping busy and balancing things that I like to do for the most part though I have to watch the expense sometime too.

What are you doing to keep yourself busy?

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders Fields
by John McCrae, May 1915

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep,
though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

I have always liked this poem since memorising it as a little girl. For more information, read the wikipedia entry on it. Have a good Remembrance Day, everyone.

Monthly Movies 05/08

Adam’s Rib (01 05 08) – Isn’t it fun to watch onscreen couples knowing they are offscreen couples? The chemistry is marvelous. I love the pull and tug, and neither really right, but it’s such a nice little Hepburn/Tracy rom-com. Why aren’t there more rom-coms with married people like this anymore?
Penelope (05 05 08) – Produced by Reese Witherspoon, this is a cute, quirky flick with a very great cast. They shot it in the UK so there are quite a few brits, but only some of them kept their accents (Simon Woods, Lenny Henry, Russell Brand) while the others adopted American accents (James McAvoy, Burn Gorman, Nick Frost). The movie also stars Christina Ricci as the eponymous character, Catherine O’Hara, Richard E. Grant, and Reese herself. Sweet, short, and it has James McAvoy.
Hellboy (08 05 08) – I had the chance to watch this on a flight in 2004, but I dismissed it having heard mixed reviews. Since then, I’ve heard positive things about this film, and with the sequel imminent this fall, I decided to watch it. It’s my second chance at watching Guilerrmo del Toro after Pan’s Labyrinth. I can see his distinct dark fantastical style in both movies. Also, both films have fascists. I do think this film’s script is not the best comic book adaptation, but it really makes up for it with the characters. The romance is kinda sweet albeit rushed through the film. It’s fun and quirky too; I look forward to the sequel.
A World Without Thieves (09 05 08) – This is a Chinese movie starring Andy Lau; it’s okay. Lau’s wig is ugly, and all the females in Chinese movies are bone thin. They shot some of it in Eastern China, but it’s not exactly a strong script and some of the poignant, spiritual scenes are flat.
Message in a Bottle (11 05 08) – I refuse to read another Nicholas Sparks novel, but I actually like the casting in all the movie adaptations. I didn’t even recognize Princess Buttercup (Robin Wright Penn) in this movie. Kevin Costner wasn’t that bad, but he is no Ryan Gosling. I love Paul Newman. That is all.
Cranford (4, 11-12 05 08) – What is it about Elizabeth Gaskell that makes her books so adaptable to screen? I have yet to see an adaptation of Gaskell’s novels I did not like or am indifferent too (same can not be said for the Brontes and Ms Austen). This is actually based on three Gaskell novels, and the creators have weaved the stories so effortlessly and beautifully. The acting is magnificent. There is a lot of humor, a lot of death, but a lot of warmth too. Wonderfully done.
Todo sobre mi madre (All About my Mother) (12 05 08) – None of the Almodóvar movies I’ve seen so far are all that realistic in plots, but the important thing is that they all have raw and real emotional, beautifully written, acted and shot. I like the ambiguity and the humanity of all his characters; nothing is clear cut, and there is love and feeling amidst it all. I can understand why many think this is still his most mature film to date. This one has so many layers and themes with All About Eve and A Streetcar Named Desire attached to it. Almodóvar is love.
The Forbidden Kingdom (17 05 08) – So you don’t watch these movies for plot consistencies, dialogue or even characters. It’s all about the action sequences and the cinematography in China is very well done. Still, I am not going to lie: I cringed at some of the plot turns. Why did Sparrow speak in third person?!
Lust, Caution (19 05 08) – REVIEW.
The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (30 05 08) – A supernatural romance where Gene Tierney (Mrs. Muir) and Rex Harrison (the ghost Captain Gregg) fall in love. It is rather sweet, and I found myself relating to Mrs. Muir’s solitary nature. I am pretty sure this was the first time I’ve seen a Tierney film, and like the third time I’ve seen Harrison. They have such nice chemistry too. I have not watched George Sanders in a lot things, but he does play assholes really well.

Total: 10.

What’s in my school/gym bag.

What's in my school/gym bag

I haven’t posted a Worldess Wednesday in awhile because I am too busy to take some serious photos. I was going to wait until Wednesday to post this, but I decided just to do it now while I have now.

Flickr has a very popular group called What’s in my bag? which is essentially people sharing the contents of their bag. It’s quite the portrait of people’s lives and can be rather addictive to see glimpses into what we carry in our bags. I’ve wanted to do it for awhile, but finally managed to do it today. I’m a bagaholic so I tend to rotate my bags for different outings and occasions.

This week, I decided to start going to the gym at school which makes my bag a lot heavier, but less than when I use to carry my laptop to school once in awhile. Click on the photo to go to the flickr page and see the items in more detail and explanation. Not pictured things including: food container+fork (which I carry some days), reading material (novel, this week it was Anne of Green Gables), and sometimes I’ll take my a personal journal to school (with a fountain pen).

Now that I’ve started this, I think I’ll be doing this periodically. It’s rather fun and allows me to organise bags such as this. What’s in your bag?

Remembrance

Peace and Victory

In Flanders Fields
By: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)
Canadian Army

IN FLANDERS FIELDS the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

The Cult of Lululemon

Lululemon Velocity Gym Bag

A friend and I joke about that Lululemon is a cult. It bases itself on yoga philosophy, and in the beginning, produced all its clothing in Canada. Now, it makes it in China like every other business, but their yoga pants are still like $80. I refuse to to buy their clothing; it’s out of my budget for one thing, and it’s ridiculous how trendy and expensive it is.

But I bought one of their bags today. Namely the Velocity Gym Bag pictured above. For a lot of money. Why? I have a thing for bags. I love handbags. I constantly rotate my bags for the occasion and the “season” as it were. I bought a H&M bag last year for much less to be my book bag, and now this one will replace it. Due the cult of Lululemon, the bag is popular for school, but not as popular as the less expensive Aritzia TNA bag which is of similar size and style.

The bag does look sturdy, and it should last me a few years considering what I paid. The vinyl is waterproof which is a big advantage. My Macbook fits snuggly in with lots of other room. I also do intend to use it as a gym bag. I will use the included wet bag for my running shoes, and the pockets for my H20 and cell. As well as the external straps for a yoga mat. I also love removable straps as I won’t always have to carry this under my arm. It seems to be a great bag for carry-on airplane travel too.

All in all, I can say this is my back to school gift to myself. But I’m just making excuses. Oh why must I adore the bags?

In other news, I am finding it difficult to find a decently priced moisture-wicking tank top that I can wear for running, gym and yoga. The running is great though; I’m back on Week 5 since the illness set me back a few weeks. A few more weeks and I’m going to do my first 5K.

Image from Google Images.

June Days

Some blog business first off: I’ve installed a WordPress plugin to allow people to edit comments. In addition to the other comment plugin of subscribing to posts which is useful if you want to know my reply to your comment which happens fairly often. I also have a nifty new archives plugin that is flashy. If anyone wants to contact me, the contact form still exists as do the comments. I also have all the major IM programs, but I have no excuse to really use them anymore. I prefer long or fascinating emails really.

Updates were fewer at the end of the previous week because I was working. I’m working four three days next week plus the following Sunday. This past weekend, I’ve been knitting and listened to the audiobook for Harry Potter book two. I finished the Rose’s Wrist Warmers today too; I’ll blog about that on Tuesday. I also added another item to my knitting project queue this week. I will need a pair of decent pair of mittens this winter. I bought the needles for the Swallowtail Shawl so I’ll start that after the socks. Right now, I am casting on the wool hat for Dad. This would be a late Father’s Day present, but it’s probably going to be an early birthday present since his day is in August. He’s been asking for a winter hat since I started knitting. The first one was a bit of a failure.

The hat will be good knitting for tomorrow because I’ll doing a one day roadtrip with the family tomorrow. Must be up at 5AM, back home before midnight. No posts tomorrow, but I will be back to blogging and reading on Tuesday. Maybe I will have some pretty photos of the highway to put on flickr.

Home Sweet Home

Books Books Books

Nothing like coming home to your books. I got home from work two hours ago. It was a very hot and humid day, but it rained a great storm when I was at work (which was thankfully not too busy). The evening was cool from the rain and the air was beautifully fresh. I came home, and I saw the above pile of books on my printer as if to say “Welcome, home.” instead of “You’re disorganized for putting a big pile of books on a printer.” I made this pile today after getting a lot of these books from the library.

As you can see, most of these books are for the Book Awards Challenge. I’ve decided to read Street of Riches instead of The Tin Flute because I am going to read the books in French and try to make room for some French Milan Kundera as well. I may still read TTF in the near future though. The pile on the left has the first three Harry Potter books stacked on top of my copy of Toni Morrison’s Beloved.

As a testament to my messy but manageable style, there are another two small pile of books on this desk as well, not to mention the twenty library books perpetually on the floor beside it. I need to clean my desk, but the books always remain where they are on my desk, in my life.

Bitten

River Boating on flickr

My trip from the wilderness (cottage country) allocated me some wonderful souvenirs: big, itchy bug bites! I always seem particularly susceptible, and I don’t own bug spray since I don’t go to the country too much.  I’m one of those people that bugs seem to be love to consume because even with a few people around me, I am the one that receives the most ugly of bites. I’m treating them with aloe vera and Asian Tiger balm. Other than the bites, we had a nice lazy day in which my friend and I planned to read, but ended up wading in water and watching My Best Friend’s Wedding very briefly.

My plans to knit and read these last couple of days have been thwarted. I haven’t exercised either. It’s been particular hot and humid. Tomorrow, I’m getting up bright and early for an annual garage sale to catch some deals.  I’ll cast on Monkey socks tonight. I am pretty sure I can do everything; the only thing I am worried about is the gusset.

Here’s a book meme that I found from Dewey:

“You simply have to grab the book nearest to you (no cheating here), turn to page 161, and post the text of the fifth full sentence on the page along with the body of the instruction on your blog. Then you tag 3 people.”

I haven’t started this book, but I will soon because it’s due next Friday. From Death by Black Hole by Neil Degrasse Tyson.

Glowing objects, like stars, come in three basic colors: red, white, and blue–a cosmic fact that would have pleased the founding fathers.

Heh. I’d be more amused if I was American, and it was weird for me to write the “color” because I am a staunch Queen’s English speller of “colour”. That’s for another post about my language idiosyncrasies.

Literary Links; Classics Debate

I’ve been attracting some literary links while surfing lately.

TwitterLit – Updated twice a day on the various Twitter accounts with the first line of books. A very good way to get book recommendations if you’re a Twitter addict as I’ve recently become. Can be also used via email or a RSS reader.

Buyafriendabook.com – Buy a friend a book for four designated weeks a year, or just give them a book to share the literary karma. It’s like Bookcrossing (which I seemed to have given up on years ago), but more direct.

What is Stephen Harper Reading? – Canadians may only get the humor in this. Yann Martel, author of Life of Pi has decided to send a book to the Prime Ministre a book every two weeks with a letter on the choice. The image of PM Harper reading The Death of Ivan Ilych almost discombobulates me. Image does not process.

Publisher makes lite work of classics – An article from The Times Online about a publisher that is making shortened versions of classics for “convenience”:

Tolstoy, Dickens and Thackeray would not have agreed with the view that 40 per cent of Anna Karenina, David Copperfield and Vanity Fair are mere “padding”, but Orion Books believes that modern readers will welcome the shorter versions.

Padding, right. This is not a new concept, and it could be helpful if you’re doing a book report about a book you don’t want to read. Goodness knows I didn’t enjoy every single moment of Vanity Fair. Though, if you want to know what happens or some literary insight, there’s Cliff Notes, Spark Notes, Wikipedia, and a lot of other choices. Someone in the article is quoted as saying that they hadn’t read Anna Karenina because it is long and finds these light versions “a breath of fresh air”.

I guess this is alright if you just want the plot, but reading has always been more than that for me. Altering or changing the books by 40% is sort of alarming. Sometimes, long books reveal a lot more than “padding”. I also think it’s completely subjective of what should or shouldn’t be taken out from a book based on some unnamed criteria they have. Do I think some of the classic authors padded? By the Dickens, yes. That does not mean it ruins my experience; sometimes there’s a lot of literary brilliance in the padding… if you like that sort of fun wordplay.

The thing is, no one is forcing you to read these classics. If you don’t like DC, AK, VF, or even Jane Eyre (which they are also book dieting), don’t read. Most of my friends are not bibliophiles, and I know lots of people who don’t like classics. Read what you like. Nick Hornby writes in one of his criticisms that we should all just read what we like and shouldn’t be forced or pressured into liking what we read. All because a book is a classic, a Pulitzer prize winner, or on the New York Times Bestseller’s list does not make it good, fun or even worth your time. Life is too short to read to books you don’t like. I just like spending my ethereal existence with long classics.

No ice cream for me

It is Ben and Jerry’s free cone day. I planned to go out for it, but due to unforeseen circumstances, I am not keen on going out. I’m going to read more of The Omnivore’s Dilemma and my new disturbing fascination with Doctor Who fanfiction. I installed the new del.icio.us Firefox extension, and it warped my bookmarks and I can’t change it even after I uninstalled it twice. I love Firefox, but it’s been a pain in the neck lately since I upgraded to the latest release. It’s crash prone and slower. I’ve had to use Safari a couple of times to supplement it. I’m just going to wait for big upgrades next time to avoid all these minor releases that seem to just bug.