Saturday 26 October 2019

25 hour Readathon

It's 14.40 and I just got back from work, and welcome to the Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon, though this time coinciding with the moving back of the clocks, so we get an extra bonus hour of reading. Tish introduced me to a new member of the household, called  Geraldine. She is keen to join in so I am lending her a few books. 
I have actually bought several new books recently, including 'The Night of Camp David' by Fletcher Knebel which was rereleased last year in the light of the current political situation. Mum gave me 'Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine' and I am very much looking forward to that one, having read nice reviews.

So Hi to all fellow readers, will visit some other participants and maybe do some of the challenges later when we need a break; Monkey is back from volleyball soon and Tish may join us later after stripper class.

Well, ten pages in I had a little nap to recover from work but its all silent reading here now as we wait for the pizza to arrive.
I am reading 'A Keeper of Sheep' by William Carpenter, was part way in before we started but have read nearly 100 pages.
Monkey is reading 'Beautiful You' by Chuck Palahniuk and has read about 90 pages.
Toby does not want to share what he is reading, but he is here on the sofa with us.

Nearly 11.00pm
I finished my first book, 245 pages. Monkey finished hers and has moved on to 'Heroes' by Stephen Fry. I am going to make more tea, then start 'Eleanor Oliphant is completely Fine'.

Monkey and Toby left me on the sofa about 11. I read till about 4 when I was flagging so a couple of hours sleep. The cat woke me up about 7. I have finished 383 pages of 'Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine' by Gail Honeyman. Unfortunately I have to go to work this morning so I couldn't risk being awake all night, though I have only just remembered the clocks (the one on my phone and the kitchen one still showing summer time) so I have actually got time for breakfast and another hour of reading.

Thursday 24 October 2019

Granny's Chair (home making part 10)

Mum and dad are trying to downsize, so when they came up last month they bought me Granny's chairs. They were probably bought in the 1930s or 40s, and as children we slept on them when we visited my maternal grandparents; they lie flat and have metal legs that fold out. Or they used to. One chair is upstairs in my room but the other fell apart rather badly with the move. Dad had obviously bodged it back together previously, possibly several times as none of the joints sit together very well. If I had the skill and tools I would take the whole thing to pieces and start again but given that I don't I added another layer of bodge that should hold it together for a few more years. 

Then I went back to Abakhan and bought another metre and a half of the curtain fabric and recovered the cushions. And actually it looks pretty lovely.

Lyra thinks so too, it is now her official spot:

The Remainder

'The Remainder' by Alia Trabucco Zer├ín, translated from the Spanish by Sophie Hughes, was shortlisted for the Man Booker International Prize this year. It is about three young people, I want to call them friends but in some ways, although they have know each other for years, they are not. They have a shared history, does that make them friends? I think this story is very bound up with the history of Chile and the Pinochet era and the ongoing impact that such a regime has on a country. It is as if the three characters are just the different ways in which people adapt/cope with trauma, and how Chile has tried to cope. Felipe is obsessed with death, and sees dead people everywhere. Iquela is bound up with caring for her mother, who she cannot bear to be around and who is terrified and obsessed with the past. Paloma left, and only comes back now, to bury her dead mother in the country where she belongs. When the coffin is diverted on route the three of them acquire a hearse and drive to Argentina to collect it, through a surreal landscape covered in ash, only to find themselves thwarted by bureaucracy, and Felipe. The book feels like a glimpse inside the psyche of a country, surreal and perplexing.

"He got up off the floor and began pacing around the room, all the while staring at Paloma, looking for some vital clue.
'So she died in begin but you want to bury her here, in Santiago?' he scoffed, his footsteps out of sync with the sugary, pop beat of 'Time After Time', his fingers counting and his face forlorn.
Paloma nodded. Of course, what with Ingrid being Chilean, there was no issue with her being buried in Santiago, but for that she'd had to be returned. 'Be returned,' Paloma said, but I realised that this wasn't what she meant. She was looking for the exact word, but it had escaped her, and I was primed to jump in.
'Repatriated,' I said.
'Repatriated, that's it,' she repeated, relived and grateful (and I began to wonder if only the dead could be 'repatriated').
Felipe couldn't believe his ears.
'That's all I need,' he said, burying his face in his hands and letting out a pained sigh that slipped entirely from my mind as we moved on to our second or third round of pisco.
He was still pacing around the room muttering and jotting down phrases in a notebook when, eventually, he announced that he was leaving. He was always doing this: upping and leaving without wanting. And I always wanted to know where he was going, and why, and how long he'd be. But there was something about Paloma that was stopping him, holding him back. It must have been her eyes, because the only thing she did was stare at us and smoke.
'Cigarette, Iquela?' she asked, inhaling deeply (perhaps remembering, perhaps not).
Felipe eventually came out with the question he really wanted to ask.
'Hey, Fraulein,' he said, already halfway out of the apartment, his hand on the door handle, 'why don't you just burn her?'
I looked at him agog, certain, now, that Paloma really would lose her cool, and I immediately corrected him as if to protect her from the word 'burn'.
'The correct term is "cremate", Felipe.'
But Paloma didn't bat an eyelid. Felipe opened the door to go wherever it was he was going, and from there, standing on the threshold, he turned to me and, with a smile, a wink, two chuckles and a shrug of his shoulders, he said:
'Tomaytoe, tomahtoe ...' " (p.67-69)

Tuesday 15 October 2019

Home Making part 8 or 9: Meet Lyra

More house stuff. I put off taking down the tatty net curtains from the front window for several months because of being exposed to the street. Problem solved with this window film; you can get all sorts of fun designs these days but this one is faceted and makes rainbows in the front room when the sun shines in:
and looks like this from the outside in the evening:

We had been cat-less for more than a year, putting off adopting until we were settled in the new house. Monkey and I went up to Rochdale RSPCA centre after Julie had seen an elderly one-eyed cat in the adoption centre at Pets at Home. Sadly he was already taken when we visited so we spent an hour or so meeting all the other cats waiting for new homes.
We could have taken any (or all) of them but Monkey fell in love with Lyra:
partly because she is a shoulder cat:
and we got her just in time to help with the curtain making:
The living room is kind of done but not finished or tidied up so I have not posted photos, but we bought this fabric from Abakhan:
and here are the lovely curtains that I made:
And these are the lovely outer space curtains Monkey made for her bedroom:
I spent far too many weeks making a new duvet cover, patchworked with silk remnants and some sari yarn and backed with brushed cotton so it is lovely and cosy:
And then the other day my bedroom door conspired to prevent me going to work and Tish had to barge it open and rescue me. This confirmed a vague plan to replace it with a curtain. I rummaged through the stash and gathered all the remnants of velvet and patched them together, and lined it with some leftover quilting:
I am sure lots of people have a home without a pet, but having one is so friendly. Lyra definitely likes to climb, and look outside, so a nice climbing tree is next on the list.

Sunday 13 October 2019

Saving the world one sheet of paper towel at a time

I read an article recently where someone described how a friend who was a frequent business flyer asked them if it was better to use the hand dryer or a paper towel. I understand that there is not much in it carbon footprint wise, though patting your wet hands on your butt has no carbon footprint at all. The point being that the person was missing the point. If you want to change stuff in your life to reduce your carbon footprint, do the big things first. What do you do when you get down the list of things to do? I still walk round my office every day turning off the hundred or so lights that burn for nobody, despite the fact that I know there are hundreds of Royal Mail offices round the country where nobody is doing this. 
Here are stupid things I do that make no difference at all to the environmental catastrophe but make me feel a little less shit:
reusable kitchen roll, made from chopped up old sheets:
washing up cloths from old swimming towel:
plastic bags washed and reused for my lunch sandwiches:
Some of the left over lino repurposed as a heat mat on the kitchen side:
Conkers collected in Alexandra Park, chopped and dried to try making soap 
yogurt pots for planting tree seeds:
tree seeds, collected at the park and when out on delivery at work:

So, when you've done the no-car-no-flying-no-meat thing (we are not meat free but are eating very little and no red meat at all) you can still stop yourself sinking into a pit of self-hatred for breathing and producing carbon dioxide.